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 didnât want to concentrate on products she felt were already being done, like oil and protein power.
So she chose something that would stand out â 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 beesâ knees of food wraps.
âWe decided we wanted to have something different because we want our business to be a bit unique from everyone else, so we went âokay what if we dyed them and dipped them and we get our beeswaxâ,â Maxine Shea, co-founder of Australian-based business Hemp Collective and Fields of Hemp, told us.
The locally made wraps, which can be purchased online, are all-natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, water-resistant and sustainable.
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.
âPeople go âoh is it farmed from bees that are being harmedâ and we went âwell no the bee keepers look after their bees,ââ 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.
âWe came up with the hemp beeswax wrap because weâre trying to eliminate plastic within our business. I come from that zero waste (belief) and also moving forward I think itâs important to do that for society,â Maxine said.
âThereâs 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.â
Perfect for storing food and keeping produce fresh â from vegetables and fruits to flowers to kidsâ lunches â 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.
Following their launch, the Hemp Collective unveiled their hemp paper and hemp business cards.
âI couldnât find any hemp business cards. I thought âno oneâs actually making them in Australiaâ,â the entrepreneur said.
âWe went âokay you know what we could actually do wedding invitations, we could do all sorts of things with it.â But the business cards were what we started out with.â
The fact that itâs a premium product again sets it aside from the others that do exist, Maxine said.
The Hemp Collectiveâs 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.
âThereâs probably seven ingredients in there and itâs all either organic or Australian,â 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.
âWe 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,â he says.
âThe same with the shea butter.â
The coupleâs 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.
âWe said weâre going to build this hemp wall. Ten people (said) âoh weâll come and helpâ,â Maxine said.
âWe hand harvested that hemp. The community has been amazing around here.â
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.
Maxine had earlier given birth to the coupleâs 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.
âWhen we came over here, we did a whole change and we looked at hemp and went yeah, I think thereâs something in this,â Mike said.
âAnd then the food law changed (in November 2017) and thatâs when we thought âwell this is whatâs going to get the wheels moving for the hemp industry.ââ
The couple say they have recurring customers and their main customers are probably mostly female, but their ages are different.
âThe soap gets an older demographic whereas we feel like shampoo bars and conditioner bars are going to be good for that travellers 18 â 35 type age groups where theyâre kind of on the move,â Maxine said.
âItâs perfect for travel, you just shove it in your bag. You donât have to carry all these big bottles.â
âArtists are loving the paper.â
Maxine said thereâs also some exciting things happening âbehind the scenesâ.
âWe really want to start getting some infrastructure happening around the region, farmers growing but growing so theyâre actually going to get better yields and outputs and also money because farmers are always struggling,â she said.
She said the Australian hemp industry was âstifled due to a range of different thingsâ.
âItâs stifled due to thought process the fact that thereâs stigma around the products,â Maxine said.
âAustralia is behind due to its crazy policies.â
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.
âIf everyone can work together youâve actually got a bigger way of talking to government and getting things changed,â she said.
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