Ambassador Spotlight: Interview with Toni Desrosiers of Abeego
We're happy to share the stories and positive work of our Ambassadors in their own words. Our Be Zero Ambassadors bring life to the Be Zero Mission by sharing and inspiring ways to live simple and low-waste lifestyles. In this post, our Ambassador Tracy, shares a recent interview with the founder of Abeego natural food wraps!
Written by Tracy Puhl
Beeswax food wraps are a staple in my house ever since we ditched plastic wrap a few years ago. As a business owner myself, I’m always interested in how other companies work toward zero waste in their business practices, so I jumped at the opportunity to interview Toni Desrosiers for the Be Zero blog.
Toni Desrosiers invented Abeego in 2008. The idea for a natural way to store food popped into her mind and then haunted her every waking (and sleeping) moment until she agreed to create it. As a result, Abeego is the first food wrap that picks up where the peel leaves off. Abeego’s mission is to Keep Food Alive, and their reusable beeswax wraps protect food from air and moisture and let it breathe--just like nature's lemon peel, onion skin and cheese rind.
Tracy: What inspired you to invent Abeego?
Toni: I believe nature's intelligence far exceeds our ability to understand it. Two major concepts pushed me to invent Abeego. First, I was convinced that nature would not offer an abundance of fresh living foods if she did not also offer the materials needed to keep it fresh for a period of time. Secondly, every time nature has wrapped food it's been in an breathable and opaque (peel, skin, rind, shell) wrap that protects from air, light and moisture. There's not a single airtight and transparent food wrap in the natural world! Sit with that for a minute. Nature never once sealed, locked or trapped your fresh, living food in an airtight, transparent food wrap yet humans have accepted this as normal. I made it my mission to disprove this concept and bring the principles of nature back to food wrap.
Tracy: What does zero waste mean to you?
Toni: The concept of using the whole beast was present from the day I invented Abeego. The value of the natural resources used to create Abeego was unmistakable. I knew it was my responsibility give every shred it's fullest life so we've adopted a near-zero waste principle. Almost every piece of Abeego is used to create a value-add product for our brand. Every package of Abeego comes with a 2"x 2" square that can be used to cover the top of a wine bottle. We want people to know even the smallest amount of Abeego is useful! We share the long shreds with our local weaving guild who teach people to make useful products from gleaned resources. Our Abeego Twist (launching this fall) is our commitment to using the the whole beeswax wrap. It's long strips of Abeego that can be used as a firestarter, twist tie, weaving material and many other things & it'll be gifted with all purchases over $50.
Abeego is on a mission to Keep Food Alive and that means ending food waste. Did you know that average household tosses almost 40% of the food they buy! When we wrap fresh food in airtight plastic wrap it sweats, suffocates and rots and that contributes to the billions of dollar North Americans toss into the compost heap every year. Keeping your fresh food in a breathable food wrap dramatically reduces the amount of food you waste and that has real meaning when you're on a zero waste mission!
Tracy: What challenges have you faced in integrating zero waste concepts into your business practices?
Toni: Our grandest ideas have not always been easy to put into practice. For example, right now there are ozens of Abeego Twists sitting in my garage and my husband is convinced I'm a hoarder. We've been saving every scrap from Abeego with the plans to launch them as a product but little things kept getting in the way and the boxes kept piling up! Not using the resource was starting to look a lot like waste so we got our butts in gear and will be launching the Abeego Twists this fall!
Waste management is a big part of running a business and reducing it can be challenging. We're constantly reviewing the materials that come into our studio, planning our orders to reduce waste and assisting our suppliers to find new ways to ensure they aren't sending us waste. One supplier was still using packing peanuts (if you can believe people still do that!) and we helped them find a better way to pack the goods they were shipping us so we weren't left dealing with the waste. In the end they found a more sustainable what to operate and were grateful that we worked with them to improve their offering.
Tracy: What has changed about Abeego over the past 9 years? What has stayed the same?
Toni: The biggest change to Abeego in the past 9 years was our entire look! In 2016, we relaunched Abeego as the beautiful product you can find on the shelf today. We obsessed about our mission, messaging and the impact we wanted Abeego to have in the world and went from there. Abeego is still made by hand and we're still using the original formula I developed in 2008.