Katharina Rauch is the founder of Pretty Bee Fresh, who makes natural and plastic-free alternatives to cling film, sold here at Spitalfields Market on Saturdays and Sundays.
With all that we see and hear in the news about plastic pollution and the damage it is doing to our planet, it’s important that we all take steps to change our habits. We caught up with Katharina to find out a little bit more about her product, brand values and sustainability efforts. We’re feeling inspired to make changes and we hope you will too…
1. Where did the idea for Pretty Bee Fresh come from?
The idea is not new, it comes from way back when plastic and cling film wasn’t a thing yet. Before cling film was rolled out, (around the mid-1950’s) people used to make wax paper to store their produce as it helped them to keep their food fresh. Already our grandparents’ generation were aware of the healing powers of beeswax, however, it got lost over time and the convenience of cling film and single-use plastic took over. It is only now, that we’re waking up to the damage we’ve created and I want to help bring these old traditions back, promote positive change and sustainability.
2. How do the beeswax wraps work?
Beeswax wraps work just like cling film, just 100% natural. They can be used to wrap bread, sandwiches, cheese, leftover fruit & veg or to cover bowls. With the heat of your hands, they’ll mould around any shape or form and create a breathable seal. Due to the antibacterial properties of beeswax, as well as pine resin and jojoba oil, it keeps the food fresh for much longer than cling film and prevents mould. They can be washed in cold water and reused up to a year. The only rule is not to use them for raw meat and raw fish, anything else is possible and people get very creative in their usage. Your imagination is the limit really.
3. For anybody who doesn’t know about Pretty Bee Fresh, how would you sell the product to them?
Pretty Bee Fresh is the natural, reusable and eco-friendly alternative to plastic and cling-ﬁlm. The wraps are sustainable, reusable, antibacterial and biodegradable. They’re all unique, handcrafted using 100 % pure cotton, pine resin, organic jojoba oil and beeswax from local bees. The wraps come in various different shapes, patterns, colours and sizes. You simply use the wrap to cover any leftover food or sandwiches you have, wash it in cold water, dry it and reuse up to one year over and over again.
In order to respect and live in tune with nature, we need to change the way we treat our planet. Plastic is polluting our oceans, poisoning our marine life and ultimately ourselves. We at Pretty Bee Fresh believe in the importance of giving back to our planet. We work incredibly hard to encourage people to live a more zero-waste lifestyle, using less plastic and looking at alternatives wherever possible. As a business, we try to reduce our own carbon footprint as much as we can and reuse/recycle materials instead of ditching them after ﬁrst use.
The ﬁght against plastic is one we can’t win alone, hence why we have partnered up with Plastic Oceans UK to help combat the 8 Million tonnes of plastic entering the oceans every year and promote sustainability. We’ve therefore joined the Plastic Oceans Re-circle Program, showing our support and our core values for this pressingly urgent issue.
We’ve also just started to work with Trees for Cities, a UK charity working on a national and international scale to improve our livelihood by planting trees in cities in order to tackle climate change. We are donating 10% for every purchase of over £50, which is just the amount we need to plant one tree. With the support of our customers, we can make a real difference!
4. How important is it that we move away from single-use plastic?
It is extremely important that we move away from single-use plastic. Ever since the 1950s, we’ve produced a shocking amount of 8.3 billion tons of plastic worldwide. Only 9% of this is actually being recycled, around 12% has been burned and the rest ends up in landfill or the oceans. In a landfill, it will sit and leach its chemicals for years, not degrading also being a risk to wildlife or fish who may get caught up in it or eat it. Even when the animal dies and its body decomposes, the plastic inside will stick around ready for the next hungry creature to come along. It deeply saddens me to see beautiful marine life creatures who are facing extinction, getting washed up at shore with tons of plastic in their stomachs. We’ve all seen the shocking pictures of whales, seals and turtles entangled in plastic waste and it’s truly devastating to see this happening under our own watch.
We need to change our attitude to plastic and our overall consumer behaviour. This is not something that happens from one day to the other, but we all need to start making changes to our lifestyle in order for us to have a chance of turning this crisis around in the future. There is no such argument as “this is not our problem” because, in fact, it is and it concerns each and every one of us. How can it be possible that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute? Every minute… and this number is set to increase by another 20% (according to a report by the Guardian) if we don’t act now.
It starts with a conscious decision every one of us has to make, followed by small changes to our lifestyle in order for us to move towards a more sustainable future. We need to move away from the habit of ditching products after ﬁrst use and instead ﬁnd creative ways of reusing them. It all starts with awareness and no effort is ever too small to make a difference.
It’s impossible (at least at the moment) to completely move away from single-use plastic as it is virtually everywhere and big supermarket chains don’t really make it any easier for us but we have to wake up, acknowledge this crisis and do everything we can to at least reduce the plastic waste we produce on a daily basis. For us, our future and our environment.
5. What do you love most about Spitalfields Market? Why did you choose to sell your product here?
I absolutely love Spitalfields Market. It’s just such a great vibe there, the fellow traders are all so lovely and you get to see products there you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s just such an iconic market with so much history and I am so proud to be a part of it. I always loved Spitalfields even before I started trading there, so it was without a doubt the best place for me to sell my products. There are a lot of markets in London and they all have their unique charm, but nothing beats Spitalfields – it’s just the perfect one-stop-shop.
6. What other personal changes are you making to commit to a more sustainable/environmentally friendly lifestyle?
I’ve realised long ago that we cannot continue living in such a wasteful society as we currently do. It’s not only plastic that is the problem, but it’s also the fast fashion industry, single-use products, our dietary habits, fossil fuels and our overall carbon footprint.
I refuse to buy plastic bottles and always carry my refillable bottle with me. Sometimes when I’m extremely thirsty and finished my water bottle already, I wait until I find a place to refill instead of going to buy a new one. It’s not always easy but we owe it to our planet and the future generations to follow. I also don’t buy any plastic bags, try to avoid plastic packaging as much as I can and always carry a foldable shopping bag with me. I also swapped to a bamboo toothbrush, eco-friendly laundry detergents, recycle and up-cycle as much as I can and stopped buying new clothing items. I only shop in charity shops and find it so much better overall – better choice, better price and better conscience. It’s extremely hard to find things that aren’t wrapped in plastic, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables. The best thing to do is to go to a local farmers market and get your fresh produce there without any unnecessary plastic packaging.