Northampton family commended by Sir David Attenborough after setting up clingfilm alternative business

One Northampton family has answered Sir David Attenborough's rallying call to ditch single use plastics by starting up their own business selling an alternative to clingfilm.

Friday, 5th April 2019, 5:35 pm
Updated Friday, 5th April 2019, 5:47 pm
Host of Blue Planet II, Sir David Attenborough. Credit: Getty.

The final episode of Blue Planet II, in 2017, saw Sir David Attenborough investigate the impact of human activity on marine life, which left the Willis family, from Abington, determined to make a change to the amount of single-use plastic they used, which in turn became a successful business venture.

Shortly after the episode aired, BBC Radio Northampton set the family a two-week challenge to save every scrap of plastic they had used. In the first week of the BBC challenge the family - who already used reusable shopping bags, coffee cups and water bottles - counted that they had used 118 pieces of plastic, and in the second week they got that down to just 17.

It was in May 2018 the family's business idea GoodToBee got off the ground, which makes alternative food wraps from organic cotton fabric, local beeswax, organic Jojoba oil and tree resin, now used by Sir David Attenborough.

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The Willis family started their business venture after being inspired by Blue Planet II.

The family sent Sir David Attenborough a set of their wraps to say thank you... but they never dreamed they would get a personal response, in the form of a letter.

Founder of GoodToBee, Madeleine Willis said: "We were overjoyed - I didn’t stop smiling for a month. It’s amazing to think that Sir David Attenborough has our wraps in his fridge.

"Setting up GoodToBee has been extremely hard work but when I’m exhausted I just a glance at his letter, which we have in a frame on our wall, and it makes it all worthwhile, we couldn’t possibly have any greater acknowledgement."

During the first week of the BBC challenge, Madeleine made her first reusable wax wraps and drummed up lots of support from her friends.

Here read's Sir David Attenborough's personal letter to the Willis family commending them on their hard work and efforts to reduce plastic use.

It wasn't long before she rented a stall at Towcester Food Festival where her product sold out on the first day.

"I had to work completely through the night to make more for the next day," she added. "It was then that I realised I may be able to turn it into a business.

"People’s response has just been overwhelming - it’s so wonderful to see how eager they are to give up plastic and help our planet."

Almost a year on from launching her business she has sold over 5,000 products.

"It’s much better to have lots of people doing a little bit to be plastic-free than a few people doing it perfectly," she added.

"So to anyone thinking of trying it I’d say - go for it.

"Try little things that are easy and work them into your everyday life, like our wraps, and then build on that over time. To go completely plastic-free can be daunting but in small steps you can do it."

The beeswax in the wraps makes the fabric durable and the oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties - similar to a wax coating on cheese and made clingy by the tree resin.

The wraps are suitable for sandwiches, and should be used just as you would use cling film. They last for about a year, are easy to wipe clean and when finished with it can be thrown in the compost heap.

The Willis' also replaced the plastic straws their disabled son Aiden used to drink from and have changed to using a metal one. Their daughter, Freya, makes her own make-up removal pads too, to avoid buying wet-wipe packaging.