Hemp Food Wraps: Sustainable Food Covering As A Substitute For Plastic

Hemp food wraps, created by an Australian couple, are a new, sustainable alternative to plastic for covering food.

After launching her hemp business with her husband, Maxine Woodhouse didn’t want to concentrate on products she felt were already being done, like oil and protein power.

So she chose something that would stand out – hemp beeswax food wraps.

Available in funky retro tie dyed colors, which makes them perfect for a dinner party, you might say they really are the bees’ knees of food wraps.

“We decided we wanted to have something different because we want our business to be a bit unique from everyone else, so we went ‘okay what if we dyed them and dipped them and we get our beeswax’,” Maxine Shea, co-founder of Australian-based business Hemp Collective and Fields of Hemp, told us.

LOCAL BEESWAX & HEMP COMBINE FOR SUSTAINABLE HEMP FOOD WRAPS

The locally made wraps, which can be purchased online, are all-natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, water-resistant and sustainable.

An Australian couple created sustainable hemp food wraps using local hemp and beeswax. Photo: A picnic party place setting including a bowl covered with a hemp food wrap.

An Australian couple created sustainable hemp food wraps using local hemp and beeswax. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

The beeswax is sourced locally and infused with organic coconut oil and pine tree resin from the Byron Bay community in northern NSW, not far from where Shea and her husband and business co-founder Mike have a hemp farm for industrial use.

“People go ‘oh is it farmed from bees that are being harmed’ and we went ‘well no the bee keepers look after their bees,’” Maxine said.

With a background that includes studying and teaching about waste education, the product also fits in with the ethos of the couple and their business.

“We came up with the hemp beeswax wrap because we’re trying to eliminate plastic within our business. I come from that zero waste (belief) and also moving forward I think it’s important to do that for society,” Maxine said.

“There’s so much going on with plastic at the moment that it is an unsustainable product and it is killing a lot of wildlife, so the beeswax wraps made sense.”

Perfect for storing food and keeping produce fresh – from vegetables and fruits to flowers to kids’ lunches – the list of uses for the wraps is endless, say the Hemp Collective.

The biodegradable wraps, which can be moulded into a pouch or cone (no pun intended) are also easy to use, are water-resistant, and are easy to wash.

FROM HEMP FOOD WRAPS TO HEMP PAPER: HEMP IS WHERE WE ARE

Following their launch, the Hemp Collective unveiled their hemp paper and hemp business cards.

“I couldn’t find any hemp business cards. I thought ‘no one’s actually making them in Australia’,” the entrepreneur said.

“We went ‘okay you know what we could actually do wedding invitations, we could do all sorts of things with it.’ But the business cards were what we started out with.”

The fact that it’s a premium product again sets it aside from the others that do exist, Maxine said.

Photo: Hemp food wraps molded into a cone shape to hold fresh fruit on a table.

The reusable sustainable biodegradable hemp food wraps can also be turned into pouch or cone shapes for serving snacks. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

The Hemp Collective’s soaps come in myrtle, activated charcoal, lavender oil, peppermint and eucalyptus, and oatmeal flavors. Ingredients include organic cold pressed coconut oil, purified water, Australian hemp seed oil, and organic unrefined shea butter.

“There’s probably seven ingredients in there and it’s all either organic or Australian,” Maxine said.

Next up they will launch their hemp shampoo and conditioner bar range. A healing balm is also in the pipeline.

The main concern for their products, Mike said, is that they are producing high quality.

“We made sure that we got not just any coconut oil, we made sure that it either came from a sustainable source but also good quality,” he says.

“The same with the shea butter.”

MAKING HEMP FANS IN AN AUSTRALIAN TOURISM HOT SPOT

The couple’s business is based in the small town of Mullumbimby, not far from the tourist hot spot Byron Bay, with a wall of hemp that the community helped make for their office.

“We said we’re going to build this hemp wall. Ten people (said) ‘oh we’ll come and help’,” Maxine said.

“We hand harvested that hemp. The community has been amazing around here.”

The couple, who have been together for 17 years, were based in New Zealand, where they had a distribution company, before they moved to Australia in 2017.

Photo: Three different colors and textures of hemp paper from Hemp Collective.

In addition to hemp food wraps, Hemp Collective makes hem paper and body care products. (Photo: Hemp Collective)

Maxine had earlier given birth to the couple’s son who was diagnosed with a severe form of eczema. Maxine was later diagnosed with a brain tumor, a type that affects only one to two per cent of people. In New Zealand, they were given some CBD oil.

“When we came over here, we did a whole change and we looked at hemp and went yeah, I think there’s something in this,” Mike said.

“And then the food law changed (in November 2017) and that’s when we thought ‘well this is what’s going to get the wheels moving for the hemp industry.’”

The couple say they have recurring customers and their main customers are probably mostly female, but their ages are different.

“The soap gets an older demographic whereas we feel like shampoo bars and conditioner bars are going to be good for that travellers 18 – 35 type age groups where they’re kind of on the move,” Maxine said.

“It’s perfect for travel, you just shove it in your bag. You don’t have to carry all these big bottles.”

“Artists are loving the paper.”

HOPES FOR HEMP’S FUTURE IN AUSTRALIA

Maxine said there’s also some exciting things happening “behind the scenes”.

“We really want to start getting some infrastructure happening around the region, farmers growing but growing so they’re actually going to get better yields and outputs and also money because farmers are always struggling,” she said.

Maxine Shea poses with a collection of Hemp Collective products and a small hempcrete wall.

Maxine Shea poses with a collection of Hemp Collective products and a small hempcrete wall. (Photo: Ministry of Hemp / Pearl Green)

She said the Australian hemp industry was “stifled due to a range of different things”.

“It’s stifled due to thought process the fact that there’s stigma around the products,” Maxine said.

“Australia is behind due to its crazy policies.”

Maxine said her vision for the hemp community in Australia was one where people could collaborate but every single person could still have a niche within their business that sets them, their story, and their product apart.

“If everyone can work together you’ve actually got a bigger way of talking to government and getting things changed,” she said.

Pearl Green

Pearl Green is the pseudonym of an Australian freelance writer who covers lifestyle, human rights and other issues.

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