From the very earliest days, I knew that I wanted Bee’s Wrap to be a different sort of business. I founded Bee’s Wrap in my home, experimenting with solutions for storing food that cut down on waste and single-use plastics. Very quickly, though, I began exploring another kind of innovation: I wanted to build a business that championed the environment, enriched the lives of employees and my community, and asked, at every turn, “How can we do things differently?”
I approached this question with a certain degree of freedom. Because I’d come to Bee’s Wrap without a traditional business background, I didn’t have a roadmap for how business “should” be done, and instead had some utopian ideas about what a business could be. I wanted to make a product that radically changed the way individuals think about food, waste, and single-use plastics.
I also wanted to build a workplace where decisions are made after first asking, “What’s the best way to do this?” I wanted to create a company where coworkers took pride in their work, and were supported in their lives at and beyond the workplace — where our footprint on the earth is small, but our impact on the lives of each other, and our customers, was lasting.
Happily, there’s a growing community of businesses that also want to do things differently, that believe business can be a force for good in the world, for environmental stewardship, and for community building. Many of these businesses are B Corps.
Today, I’m happy to announce that Bee’s Wrap is now a Certified B Corporation®. After taking inspiration from B Corporations in our earliest days, we began pursuing our B Corp certification in earnest last year. In joining this community, we continue to publicly voice our commitment to do right by people and the planet, and to continuously improve the way Bee’s Wrap exists in the world. Consider it another step on our path to make those utopian ideas a reality.
Certified B Corporations use business as a force for good, solving social and environmental problems in a way that’s good for people and the planet. Certified by the B Lab, an international nonprofit overseeing the network of B Corps, these companies must meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Today there are more than 2,700 B Corps in 67 countries. In earning our B Corp certification, we’re thrilled to be joining the likes of Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and King Arthur Flour on the B Corps roster — not to mention the hundreds of lesser-known companies making enormous strides to better business.
B Corp Certification evaluates more than a product or service: It also looks at a company’s impact on workers, customers, community, and environment. B Corp Certification means a company is committed to: verified performance, as assessed by the independent B Lab; legal accountability, in the form of amended legal governing documents to require the balance of profit and purpose; and public transparency.
We’d already embraced many of the ethics of B Corp community: taking care of our employees, carefully evaluating the impact of our ingredients on people and the environment, and giving back locally and nationally. Going through the B Corp assessment provided a valuable tool for us to see where, as a rapidly growing company, we could do better, formalize our systems, and protect the values that have been part of Bee’s Wrap since the beginning.
We also appreciate the third-party validation that communicates what we do and why we do it. We hope that the “B” stamp on our packaging will communicate and affirm our values to our customers.
Our B Corp application required a deep dive into the way we do business, and the process provided us with an opportunity to celebrate our successes and identify the places where we want to grow. We learned that we’re already doing a lot of things right, including: responsibly sourcing our ingredients, using all parts of our ingredients and product, and consciously creating a product that limits waste — specifically plastic — going to landfills.
With volunteer days for our staff, and our giving through 1% for the Planet and the Bee Cause, we earned kudos for giving back and civic engagement. Our strong corporate culture provides employees with abundant training, opportunities for growth, job flexibility, and funding for professional development. We’re woman owned, and our lowest paid hourly worker is paid more than 25 percent above the local minimum wage.
Now, in part with B Corp’s help, we look to the future. As we work on continuously improving the way we do business, we intend to incorporate a full 360-degree feedback review process for our entire team. We’re working hard to do more proactive giving, and have formed a Giving Committee to oversee our donations of products, time, and money in more ways than ever before. We’re beginning to advocate for social and environmental justice in a more public way, and have teamed up with one of our local representatives to lobby for a plastic bag ban in Vermont. We’re also working with our local utility, Green Mountain Power, to further increase the amount of power we receive from renewable resources.
All this to say, as we celebrate our B Corp certification, I’m incredibly proud of the work our team has done, and I speak for us all when I say we’re energized to continue on our path. The utopian ideals I envisioned for Bee’s Wrap in those early days are, increasingly, becoming the stuff of reality. And I can only hope that in the years to come, this way of doing business — honoring people and planet in addition to profit — will be the bar we all must meet.
Founder and CEO
At Bee’s Wrap, beeswax is central to what we do — and we think of this substance as nothing short of magical. Beeswax is useful, renewable, beautiful, antibacterial, versatile. We’re grateful to go to work everyday in a workshop that smells faintly of wax, a smell we adore. It's the smell of sugar cookies and brown sugar, of melting sweet cream butter and honey.
We’re also grateful for the incredible bees, and thoughtful beekeepers, who make and harvest this wax — and who taught us, in our early days, about how to best be stewards and friends to the bees. Our friend Kirk Webster, who lives down the road here in Vermont, was one of our earliest teachers. Everything he’s taught us about responsible beekeeping helps us evaluate the practices of the new beekeepers we partner with as Bee’s Wrap grows. We make it part of our mission to source the best possible beeswax from the most responsible beekeepers, and we rely on the advice of experts like Kirk to help guide our research as we find the best beekeeping partners.
We caught up with Kirk one afternoon last fall to take a peek at the season's honey extraction operation and to chat wax.
Part of our commitment to sustainability is using wax that comes from the cappings of the honeycomb, a byproduct of the honey extraction process. “The bees seal their honeycombs with wax, that’s what the capping is, and we have to cut them off in order to get the honey to come out,” Kirk told us.
“In North America, that’s what makes most of the wax that’s on the market,” Kirk said, using an uncapping fork to scratch the wax cappings open.
By cutting off the cappings and leaving the rest of the honeycomb intact, Kirk says, “you can reuse the combs for many years. This one could be thirty years old.”
“There’s all kinds of mechanical contraptions to cut the cappings off of the combs, and this is one of the simplest ones,” Kirk says. “This is so safe, there’s no moving parts, you can put your hand right on it and it won’t cut you, and it just works so well and is so simple.”
Access to clean forage is another critical factor in producing the healthiest wax. Our beekeepers keep their hives away from areas with high pesticide use, like golf courses and non-organic farms; this helps prevent the accumulation of pesticides and herbicides in our wax, and protects bees from the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs.
The beekeepers we work with also leave enough honey in their hives to allow the bees to comfortably overwinter, resting up until spring arrives.
Our beeswax is never chemically altered or bleached, and is tested by the USDA for 200 pesticides and herbicides, ensuring the use of the cleanest possible wax. The beekeepers with whom we work are on the front lines of supporting a healthy, vibrant pollinator population.
We’re honored to partner with sustainable beekeepers who, as Kirk says, are working to put their bees on “the path back to balance, stability, resilience and health.” And we’re committed to making Bee’s Wrap with only the cleanest wax we can find, for the good of us all.
Bee’s Wrap is, by design, versatile — ready to cover a bowl, wrap up leftover ingredients, or pack a snack for the road. It’s also user friendly. Maybe you’re a Smoosher, quickly gathering a wrap round a piece of fruit and pressing the edges together freestyle. Maybe you’re a Folder, making a tidy envelope around herbs or a loaf of bread.
If you’re looking to expand your repertoire of Bee’s Wrap techniques, read on for our step-by-step instructions to whip up a clever origami pouch. We love using this technique to pack crackers, nuts, berries, popcorn, or other tasty snacks for our lunch box or backpack.
Step 1: Lay your wrap flat, at an angle with one corner pointing toward you. Any size will work; we’re using a medium wrap here.
Step 2: Bring the bottom corner up to the top, aligning the right edges.
Step 3: Bring the right corner of your wrap up to the left edge, a few inches from the top.
Step 4: Fold the left part across, aligning the point with the right edge.
Step 5: Use the warmth of your hands to seal the wrap to itself.
Step 6: At the top of your pouch, fold the smaller, interior triangle down.
Step 7: Pick your pouch up and fill with yummy snacks!
Step 8: Fold top triangle over to seal. Voilá!
Bee’s Wrap, the product, began with a question: Could we find a better way to store food, without the waste and without the plastic? Bee’s Wrap, the company, poses another: Can we find a better way to build a business?
Today, we’re hard at work on answers for both of those questions. The last few years have brought significant growth for Bee’s Wrap — an exciting prospect as we work hard to put our reusable food storage wraps in the hands of more people. With growth come challenges, and up until a few months ago, Bee’s Wrap was bursting at the seams. We’d outgrown our workshop in Bristol, Vermont, and needed to find a new home — one with more space for production, more room for warehousing, more desks for our growing hive.
Which is why we’re so delighted to have landed in our new home, just down the road in Middlebury, VT. Today our team of more than 30 people is all under one roof in a sunny, spacious, light-filled building, powered by approximately 75% renewable energy.
It’s a big change from the early days of Bee’s Wrap, when a small band of us — neighbors and farmers, mothers and friends — painted wax by hand onto fabric wraps in the basement of Sarah’s home. We’ve since developed custom machinery that allows us to wax whole rolls of fabric at a time.
As we settle into our new digs, we’re taking the chance to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. We come to work every day on a mission to help more people ditch disposable, single-use plastic in favor of a natural and sustainable alternative. We’re also passionate about the company we’re building — the close knit team that tackles challenges with creativity and goodwill.
Every Wednesday, we gather for a zero-waste lunch, and once a month we sit down to a community meal to celebrate milestones like birthdays and team successes. (And all of our food scraps go to a few coworkers’ chickens!) Our new space has a yoga room where employees can take a break to stretch and refresh, and a break room we stock with bulk snacks from our local food co-op. We’ve added lots of beautiful, air-purifying plants, and we’re not far from the great outdoors; we’re lucky to be in close proximity to a walking trail that winds along the Otter Creek.
We also look beyond the walls of this hive, thinking about the lives our employees lead in our community and the health of the place we call home. We value a flexible, family-friendly work environment, one that allows employees to fulfill familial obligations to a child or aging parent, and balance the demands of work and life. We’re proud to offer paid volunteer time and paid voting time to all Bee’s Wrap employees.
And at work, we value collaboration and creativity. We’ve started forming committees that pull employees outside of their day-to-day roles to work on bigger picture projects. We bring this approach to product development, as we think about new products and initiatives, and to problems that stretch beyond Bee's Wrap — like advocating for a plastic bag ban in our town and participating in statewide advocacy against single-use plastics.
This is not a time without challenges. At Bee’s Wrap, we do everything ourselves — from sourcing and warehousing ingredients to manufacturing to shipping to marketing and sales. We’re growing quickly. We’re balancing our sometimes utopian vision of what a company can and should be with the very real day-to-day challenges of our to-do lists.
We couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve built so far. And we couldn’t be more excited about what’s yet to come.
We’ve all seen the images — of cast-off plastic bags suspended in the oceans, of beaches strewn with plastic debris. Plastic waste is one of the most important environmental crises of our time. An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year — adding to the estimated 150 million metric tons already circulating there. Plastic already outweighs plankton in our seas, and if we don’t shift course, plastic could outweigh fish in the ocean in 30 years.
This was the inspiration for our newest release, the Oceans print. In particular, we were inspired by the plight of marine wildlife — our neighbors on this blue planet who’ve inherited the problem we created.
The average sea turtle is estimated to live 80 years — roughly the same life span as the average American. That means there are turtles in the ocean today who were born long before the advent of the modern plastic age, who knew the oceans as home before we began to cast off our plastic debris in such staggering volume. The changes that have come to our oceans have been rapid, relentless, overwhelming.
In one recent study, researchers from the UK, US and Australia sampled all seven species of sea turtle in the world, looking at 102 sea turtles from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean Sea. Their findings: Every single one had ingested plastic. Worldwide, scientists estimate that half of all sea turtles have ingested plastic.
An estimated hundreds of thousands of sea turtles die each year from ocean pollution, with many ingesting or becoming entangled in marine debris. Plastic and other garbage looks an awful lot like a jellyfish in some cases — but in consuming this debris, sea turtles can suffer blockages in their digestive systems that may lead to their death. In other cases, plastic in their guts may damage a turtle’s ability to absorb food and nutrients, weakening the animal over time.
The plastic problem starts much lower in the food chain, of course. The majority of plastic in the ocean is what is known as microplastic — tiny fragments, five millimeters or less in size, broken down from larger pieces. They’ve turned the oceans into what scientists are calling a “plastic soup.” Marine animals are consuming this plastic — and we, in turn, consume those animals. Plastic-contaminated fish are now showing up in supermarkets, and scientists are trying to figure out not if we’re eating plastic in our seafood — we already know we are — but what the effects might be, and how it got there.
For our sake, and for the sake of our marine neighbors, we must do better. We’re proud to partner with 1% for the Planet on this product, and have committed to donating at least 1% of sales of the Oceans print to organizations supporting ocean conservancy, beach cleanups, and water stewardship.
It’s our duty to choose change — choosing to reuse, to conserve, to protect. We created the staggering problem of plastic pollution in the oceans. But we, too, can stem the plastic tide. We hope our Oceans print serves as a small reminder in your daily life that we all have choices that add up to big change — and that if we don’t act now, the waters that surround us may never recover.
We love the tradition of New Year's resolutions. At one of the darkest and coldest times of the year, a resolution is a chance to choose optimism, and to reflect on the year behind and the year ahead. A resolution provides an opportunity to commit to taking better care of ourselves, our community, and our planet.
We asked members of the Bee's Wrap team about their sustainability resolutions for the year ahead, and are sharing a few here. What will you do in 2019 for the good of the planet? Resolutions can be wildly ambitious or small and concrete; either way, we'd love to hear about your commitment to the planet.
From our family at Bee's Wrap to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, productive 2019. Let's make the year ahead count.
Nancy, head of finance
Evan, production (waxing and cutting)
Jess, team leader for production
When we gathered in a Vermont farmhouse earlier this fall for one of our latest photoshoots, we were thrilled to welcome chef Julia Clancy into the fold. Julia arrived with armfuls of the most beautiful Vermont fall produce, an infectious love of food, and a truly joyful, generous approach to cooking and eating.
Julia grew up loving food and cooking, and after college, she headed to Cork, Ireland, to attend the intensive cooking school headed by chef Darina Allen. There, Julia spent twelve-hour days in the kitchen — mastering tarts, planning menus, preserving food, roasting the perfect chicken, and more.
Next she headed for San Francisco, where Julia interned at Chez Panisse and then landed a job at Zuni Cafe. When life brought her to Vermont, she started writing her own menus for pop-ups at a local farm, writing about food and drink for our local alternative weekly, and then working in the test kitchen at EatingWell magazine.
We caught up with Julia this month to talk about food and her tips for everything from low-waste cooking to feeding a crowd.
On her menu for our Bee’s Wrap feast
When Julia developed her menu for our Bee’s Wrap shoot, she took into consideration a few elements. First, a sense of place — her food is always driven by where she is, and what ingredients are fresh, vibrant and colorful. The spread she whipped up was as beautiful as it was tasty, including (but not limited to!) a pressed picnic sandwich, smoky red beet yogurt spread, a “halvsies” salad with an herby vinaigrette, and a gorgeous citrus rye tart with mascarpone cream.
Julia says she’s inspired in her cooking to find a balance of richness and freshness — something warming and zippy, with the right play of acids and fresh herbs. She loves to cook family-style meals.
“I want to make food that is beautiful and seasonal and compelling,” said Julia — but not so beautiful as to be untouchable. “I want you to put your elbows on the table, bring your appetite, and go to town.”
On reducing waste in the kitchen
“Understanding how to be a good cook is understanding how to be an efficient cook,” Julia said. Reducing waste as a chef just makes sense: it’s good for the environment, and it’s also good for the bottom line. “If you’re throwing out half of your ingredient into your compost or your trash can, you’re losing a lot of money as a cook.”
Julia’s training and professional experience has centered on kitchens where zero- or low-waste cooking is the norm, and when she moved to Vermont, she found that ethic shared by food-lovers and farmers.
“What the home cook can learn from people who cook professionally is how to use more of the ingredient,” she said. That means using the tops of radishes and carrots in a way that’s actually delicious. Julia gushes about broccoli stems — her favorite part of the vegetable. “Peel it like you would a carrot, slice it, and it’s a gold mine.”
Save potato skins to make chips. Use apple skins to make vinegar. And if that’s a little “eager mcbeaver,” as Julia put it, start with using the freezer to cut down on waste. She freezes herb stems from basil, cilantro, and parsley, then stuffs them in the cavity of a chicken or under a fillet of fish. She freezes the rinds from her parmesan cheese to chuck into soups, and vegetable peels to simmer into future stocks.
On Bee’s Wrap in her kitchen
“I save bits and ends of everything — everything,” Julia told us. She’s not kidding: The rinds of parmesan, fresh and woody herb stems, apple peels, citrus peels, halved avocados. The only downside to this thrift, Julia said, was that she was using more tin foil, Ziplock bags, and plastic wrap than she’d like. She first encountered Bee’s Wrap as a recipe developer and tester at EatingWell, and quickly made the switch to using it in her own kitchen.
She uses the larger wraps to store extra greens, herbs, and herb stems. She also uses the the larger wraps to make pie crust or fresh pasta without needing to scrape down her counter.
“I like that Bee's Wrap gets better with age. Better! Less waxy, more nimble, very second nature to use,” said Julia. “It's also beautiful; it makes me happy to use something as attractive as it is functional as it is sustainable.”
On cooking for a crowd
During a time of year when many are entertaining, we asked Julia for her tips for cooking for a crowd. She gravitates toward dishes that hold their integrity at room temperature, so she isn’t rushing to nail the timing of a meal at the same time she’s enjoying the company of guests. She’ll make a salad, cover it, and keep it in the refrigerator until dressing before serving. She loves one-pot, family-style meals that can be doctored with a few accoutrements.
Think: grain salads that get better as they sit, or a big salad with seasonal veggies and a zippy dressing that can be made ahead. Little touches — like a fennel or chili oil drizzled over a big pot of soup — help make a meal more special without radically increasing the effort.
On advice for novice cooks
Julia loves cooking — but she’s quick to be realistic about the act of feeding one’s self and one’s family.
“I don’t think everyone has to love cooking,” she said. “I think that puts a little too much pressure on the act of cooking itself.” Sometimes it’s late, you’re exhausted, and cooking is a chore. She recommends that first, individuals think about what kind of cook they are. Do you want to be on your feet for thirty minutes, actively cooking a quick meal? Do you want to throw ingredients on a sheet pan and walk away for an hour? “It’s not one size fits all,” said Julia.
Then, she said, find a few tools to make your life easier in the kitchen. Start with a sharp chef’s knife and a cutting board. Add a couple of clean kitchen towels, a skillet and a pot, and a wooden spoon. Find the hacks that work for you.
“If you don’t want to chop, grate a tomato and an onion [with a box grater] into a skillet and that’s the basis of a sauce,” she said.
And finally, learn the basics. “You don’t need an elaborate recipe,” Julia said. “Just get a couple of techniques down. You can go online and get a recipe for anything. And that’s exciting. But it’s also unnecessary. If you can get certain techniques down — how to cook rice, or how to poach chicken breasts — it gives you a lot of freedom if you feel like you have mastery. Then you can start getting more experimental.”