Last week, UC Sustainability held a DIY workshop to celebrate our favourite month – Plastic Free July!
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution. It’s a month long challenge which encourages all of us to ‘choose to refuse’ single use plastics – like takeaway coffee cups, drink bottles, straws, bags and plastic wrappers. We decided we would tackle Plastic Free July by showing our UC community how to make their own alternatives to single use plastics – and we had so much fun doing so!
Almost 100 students (and staff too!) came along and learnt how to make a DIY beeswax wrap and a produce bag with us, so we could all ‘choose to refuse’ this month (and hopefully longer!).For those that missed out, we’ve put together a guide for making your own wraps at home – they make great presents for friends and family too! Read on to see how we made our own beeswax wraps with nothing but some organic beeswax (grated), cotton fabric, scissors, baking paper and an iron. We hope you’ll be inspired to tackle Plastic Free July with us!
Step one: gather your materials
We recommend using only 100% cotton for making beeswax wraps – but don’t feel as though you have to rush off to a fabric store! All the fabric in these photos are either old tee shirts, or are from second hand stores (sheets and pillow cases are usually 100% cotton, and come in funky patterns – just give them a wash and an iron before use). If you want to buy new, Spotlight often has sales on cotton, and there’s a heap of different fabrics to choose from.
We sourced our beeswax from a friend who has bees, but you can get unpackaged beeswax in a small block from most Farmers Markets (including Riccarton Bush and Lyttelton). Bin Inn also sells beeswax in small cubes, but we prefer a block for grating.
We went through a whopping 1kg of beeswax making 100 wraps, but 100g – 200g of beeswax will be more than enough for making your wraps at home.
Step two: cut to size
What sizes you’re after is totally up to you! Here’s the guidelines we used:
- Small (17cm x 20xm) is good for covering leftover dips, the end of a cucumber, half an avo, or the last mouthful of cheese
- Medium (31cm x 27cm) is the popular size – it covers a small plate, wraps a sandwich, fits over the end of a 500g block of cheese and perfect for smaller snacks and treats
- Big (35cm x 33cm) perfect for a large sandwich, wrap, easily covers salad bowls and leftovers in the fridge, and also doubles as an excellent plate on your picnic!
Step three: let’s make your wraps
Now for the fun part!
1. Place your fabric onto a piece of baking paper (we put a towel down first, to avoid a mess!). Sprinkle a small handful of grated beeswax onto the fabric (less is more, as you can always add more afterwards). Make sure the beeswax is spread evenly.
2. Place another piece of baking paper on top of the fabric.
3. Using the iron, firmly press down onto the baking paper. You’ll see the beeswax melting almost immediately. Iron the baking paper as you would normally iron fabric – making sure the beeswax is pushed all the way into the corners (you’ll be able to see through the baking paper – see the pictures below).
4. When all the beeswax is melted and your fabric looks wet, you’re done. Remove the top layer of baking paper and check the beeswax is melted. It should look like the picture on the left below, with an even amount of melted beeswax. The picture on the right needs another go with the iron to melt and re-spread some of the beeswax that has already started to dry.
5. Next, remove the beeswax from the bottom piece of baking paper and hang to dry before it hardens and sticks (you have to be a bit speedy here, but be careful as the wax will be hot). We recommend pegging the wet wrap to a coat hanger or a washing line. It will only take a few minutes to harden and dry completely.
6. You’re done! You’ve just made a beautiful beeswax wrap which will help you say goodbye to plastic cling film for good (plus it makes for much prettier lunches!). To use, wrap around your food or bowl as you would with plastic wrap, and use the warmth of your hands to ‘seal’ the wrap in place. Instant eco-warrior!
Just a few things to note…
- to clean your wrap, gently hand wash in cool water with a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Hot water will remove the beeswax!
- please don’t cover raw meat with your wrap – if you need to cover raw meat, use a container or cover it with another plate in the fridge
- if your wrap starts to lose its ‘stick’ – simply begin the process again! You’ll be able to re-wax and continue to use your wrap for years to come. If it eventually starts to look a little worse for wear, pop it into your compost bin (another reason we love cotton!).
Thanks to everyone who came along to the workshop last week, we hope you had as much fun as we did, and are enjoying using your beeswax wraps. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more Plastic Free July activities later this week, including student bloggers and the last of our plastic free giveaways.
If you make these at home, we’d love to see the results! Send your best wrap pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This message was bought to you by the UC Sustainability Office. Stay connected and follow us on Facebook, Instagram or sign up to our newsletter to stay in the loop about campus sustainability. This is part of our contribution to Plastic Free July, where we encourage our UC community quit single use plastics for the month. For more information and tips, see the Plastic Free July website.