| Ivelina Nikolova

Beeswaxed Wrappers

It is not a fashion to try to live green any more, it is not some extravaganza scream for being noticed in the crowd, it is not a crime and most certainly it is not a heroism, it is a necessity! Our planet is exhausted, heavily inhaling Her last breaths, trying to let us still exist, but for how long could She bare the ignorance of our plastic artificial life, it is to be determined. For those of us, who have memories from our childhood, for those, who dare to remember, it is obvious how much life has changed for the last twenty years. Although the NYLon was invented way before my childhood, the impact that this particular manmade product has on the modern life is excruciatingly bigger. This is only because of the abusive use by every company, neglecting the thought of the afterlife of this plastic bag, per se, or that nylon wrapper. 
I go to the local grocery shop, that prides itself with delivering fresh vegetables and fruits from the nearest farms, and the disgust that surrounds all the freshness is unbearable. It sits in nylon beds (not cardboard, for example, or even better - wooden cases, like the ones we used to have when collecting fresh fruits right from the field. The last ones are reusable, breathable and safe for the produce, if not treated with some chemicals for extra preservation :(... something to think about). Once I make my pick of fresh produce, I look around for paper bags to take them home. (We even see them in the movies - favourite characters from the screen, coming home with arms full of paper, paper, paper, and more paper bags). There are rolls and rolls of nylon bags, next to every stand, some of which are rolling sadly on the floor, people jumping them over, or simply kicking them in the nearest corner, reaching out to the next closest, to pull a few of the bags out and fill them with goodies. It is hurting my eyes every time. It makes me sad and angry. I go prepared, with my fabric drawstring bags, but I can not unsee the ignorance.
We are so blessed to have air that we could savour. We very often neglect to take advantage of this blessing. We suck the air out of our life and store it in a nylon bag. Everything needs to breathe - our food, whether fresh or processed; our clothes - whether wet or dry; our body; our mind and soul. Using items, made from natural ingredients only makes our life healthier and happier. I wish more people could see that.
Statistics show that roughly one third of the food, produced for human consumption gets wasted. Surely, statistics measure it all in billions of US dollars, but imagine the impact that has on the planet - it can not measure the resources, wasted for processing this food, the packaging and the resources for producing that packaging, the transportation and at the end - the storage of that waste. How much of that food gets to the waste in its organic dress? Most of it gets thrown in a plastic packaging.
I, finally found a way to get rid of the nylon packagings that our processed food comes in. This is my way of protecting the fresh produce and safe the life of my favourite cheeses. This is my way of not wasting food anymore - kept in the nylon bag from the market and ruined. The worst part is when we have our greens 'refreshed' by the water sprinklers. Taken wet from the shower and thrown in the nylons shortens the life of the greens drastically. 
Beeswax is the natural plastic substitute. It is produced by the honey bees and it serves the purpose of honey storage as well as it is a home to the larvas in the beehive. I believe, it is a testament enough for me to trust the beeswax with my food. Nature created this phenomenal product to preserve the life of one very special species. I am not the one, questioning Her intentions.
There are few brands out there, offering this kind of food protection. I think I have a favourite one of them, but I still decided to make my own. The convenience in it, is ... well ... the conveniences are:
1. I choose the size of the wrappers I make.
2. I know exactly what ingredients I use for making them.
3. I involve my family enthusiasts into the process, teaching my girls the importance of living green.
4. My house smells like a beehive - sweet and natural.
5. I get to try to reach more people with my words and make them think about the future.
The inconvenience is the time and effort. We tend to turn our efforts into inconvenience, so I would put that as a number 6. above, because if we inconvenience ourselves into doing something for our life, then the evolution is going in the wrong direction. Since human existence, people have been working hard to reach the point at which we are now. The effort of surviving and making our lives more sufficient is the wheel that evolution rode onto. Making the effort to prolongate the life of the food we use and not waste it, is a small part, but imagine it multiplied by five billion or so...
materials needed:
1. handmade natural soap (no artificial dye, nor chemical ingredients)
2. natural beeswax - check your local bee farm
3. light weight fabric:
My choice for fabric is DailyLike. How lucky for me to have DailyLike Canada around. They first hooked me up three years ago with their motto: simple fabric ... for simple life :) Why DailyLike? Wouldn't any cotton do the work? Firstly, because of the choices they give us. They have a cotton classification, depending on the thickness: 60C, 40C, 30C and 20C, that is the quilting cotton. The higher the number, the thinner the cotton. For our project, we need thinner cotton, so today I am experimenting with 60C, that is really thin and voile-like and 30C, still lighter than the regular quilting cotton. Secondly, because of the service, and not lastly - because of the feeling their products influence on me - living simple and clean.
tools needed:
regular packaging paper
parchment paper
old towel
old pot
tin container
painting brush
pinky shears
Note: I had my pieces cut in advance, before washing the fabric. I would recommend cutting the desired sizes after washing. Fabric will fray less.
1. Wash the fabric with the soap and hang it out under the sun to dry. The sun rays are the natural predator to bacteria and bad microorganism. This is the best way to disinfect all your clothing after washing. It preserves the clothing and the planet. The driers are another manmade invention that doesn't take under consideration the future, and in this case - the very near future.
2. Prepare all the needed materials.
3. Set your working table:
I worked on my ironing board. It was set in the following manner:
Before you reach the point of ironing your wrappers, continue with the next step:
4. Slice shavings of the beeswax and place them in the prepared tin container. I placed the tin in another metal container and then in the water bath of my old pot. 
Melt the beeswax over medium heat. It really is quite a satisfying process - melts smoothly and in no time. Do not leave it unattended. 
5. Move the whole pot to your working station. Have a potholder ready nearby so you could set the pot safely, without burning any surfaces. Have your brush and lay the fabric on the working paper over the old towel. This paper is hygroscopic - the beeswax will pass through, that is why the towel is needed underneath. You could use another layer of parchment paper, instead of the regular paper. I did not, because I wanted the excess amount of beeswax to be discarded, not accumulating on my cotton wrapper.
Brush your cloth with fast movement, without a glimpse of a care to be precise:
Do not worry if you do not cover the cloth evenly. The iron will fix that. The beeswax dries out immediately, the brush also dries fast, but not to worry - that is why you have the whole warm pot around. It all comes to balance once you return the brush back to the tin with the rest of the melted beeswax.
When you cover fully your cloth, return the pot to the warm stove - make sure it is switched off. Leave it there and come back to your working station. Set it in the way, shown in step 3. and iron over the parchment paper, covering the waxed cloth. The beeswax will melt and spread evenly, covering smoothly the whole cloth. 
Peel off the parchment paper, take off your cloth piece and lay it flat on a paper towel on your counter. It will set very fast and will be ready to use immediately.
Repeat the steps for the rest of your fabric pieces, warming the beeswax to liquid consistency for every piece. Always check for your hot plate to be turned off when you return the pot back and you will be off to ironing your pieces!
How beautiful is this 'Leaf' cotton for my fine herbs, like the dill and for the soft mozzarella!!! It is the 30C cotton, as well as the stripes with the aubergines.
'Pure Flower' and 'Misty Mint' are 60C cottons, very fine and delicate. I find them perfect for my mint and softer vegetables and fruit. Also, the finer the cotton, the more pliable it is, that is why I used the smaller pieces of the 'Misty Mint' to individually wrap the aubergines. 
It is all ready to go back in the refrigerator in their new clothing - safe and protected for longer.
A few notes, that will spare you the surprises:
1. Prepare to starve - the aroma that the beeswax releases in the room sends signals to the brain that there is some honey around and you will feel like a black bear, desperately looking for a beehive to ruin :). This will unlock the sensor for hunger, but I doubt you would want to interrupt your work before the last cloth is finished. 
2. While you beeswaxing the cloths, you will notice the change of colour to the fabric. It is quite obvious on the white fabric, like the "leaf" and the stripes in this case. It doesn't bother me, because I know I am using the natural beeswax, instead of the discoloured, brought to white pallets that are sold on the market. If it bothers you, choose different than white fabrics. There is still going to be a change in the colour, but you may tolerate the hue better.
3. The cloths could be stored flat, preferably stored flat. They are molded into the shape of the product by the warmth of your palms - another satisfying experience.
4. The cloths could be gently cleaned with slightly soaped paper towel and rinsed under gentle cold water, set to dry before stored away for next use.
5. Eventually, the beeswax may be worn off. I have no experience with that and I can not advice, but will update this post once I have more information.
Happy working!

Ivelina Nikolova

Instagram @mon_etui
Etsy Shop www.etsy.com/ca/shop/HappyDashesAndDots
Blog monetui.blogspot.com/



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