Over plas­tic? Try beeswax

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - ANDRE CHUMKO

Eigh­teen months ago, Hawke’s Bay cou­ple Sta­cia Jensen and Miko Hayashi had no idea how big their beeswax wrap ven­ture would grow.

Now, they are lead­ing the charge to­wards us­ing less plas­tic.

The pair have de­vel­oped a food wrap that is plas­ticfree, reusable and com­postable.

Jensen said the ven­ture was borne out of a de­sire to re­duce their own car­bon foot­prints.

‘‘When you think about it, plas­tic ac­tu­ally hasn’t been around for that long. So we were cu­ri­ous as to what peo­ple did be­fore plas­tic, which kind of led us in this di­rec­tion.’’

The recipe in­cludes lo­callysourced beeswax, as well as nat­u­ral cot­ton, or­ganic co­conut oil and a tree resin called dammar gum.

Users are able to wash wraps with cold wa­ter and re­use them af­ter they dry, with one be­ing able to last an en­tire year, de­pend­ing on care.

Sales started small – at a lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket – but the prod­uct quickly drew in­ter­na­tional in­ter­est.

The pair now sells on­line and to re­tail­ers in coun­tries in­clud­ing China, Bahrain and Saudi Ara­bia.

Hayashi said so­cial me­dia helped ex­pand the busi­ness.

‘‘Peo­ple hang out on Face­book and In­sta­gram and places like that to find ideas and in­spi­ra­tion and dif­fer­ent things, so our brand fits into that re­ally well where it’s a topic of con­ver­sa­tion in the world now any­way - the plas­tic is­sue.’’

The prod­uct is made at a ware­house in cen­tral Napier, where the pair em­ploy a small, loyal team who help run cus­tomer ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Em­ployee Monika Laky­ova said the com­pany re­ceived an enor­mous amount of pos­i­tive feed­back.

‘‘There’s lots of com­ments from par­ents whose kids take lunches to school with our Li­lyBee Wraps and it’s a chain re­ac­tion, be­cause the other kids see that and they also want Li­lyBee Wraps.‘‘

Hayashi said the ven­ture was about em­pow­er­ing peo­ple to make a small, but achiev­able change.

‘‘It’s that thing like one small habit that you change which can lead to the next habit and the next. So it sparks that de­sire to use less plas­tic [in other ar­eas].’’

Mo­ti­va­tion also came from want­ing to give peo­ple an ac­ces­si­ble op­tion, Jensen said.

‘‘That’s one of the rea­sons we were re­ally in­spired to do it, was to give peo­ple a start­ing point.

‘‘Be­cause there’s so many things that you can do, but where do you start? If it’s eas­ier and works for the en­vi­ron­ment, it’s a win-win.’’

‘‘We were cu­ri­ous as to what peo­ple did be­fore plas­tic, which kind of led us in this di­rec­tion.’’ Sta­cia Jensen

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