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Khala Cloths: zero waste food storage wrap

Khala Cloths are an all-natural replacement for plastic when storing and packaging food.

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The idea is to take sustainably and respectfully-sourced spun cloth and infuse it with sustainably and respectfully-sourced wax to create a replacement for plastic wrap. We call them “Khala Cloths,” where khala means “food” in Tibetan. The idea is to “honor your food,” its socio-ecological source and the community connection it creates through eating, by storing and presenting it in earth-honoring, zero waste ways. Food stays as fresh or fresher than it does with plastic wrap, and when a Khala Cloth is done storing food it can be handwashed like a dishtowel and hung to dry like one too. Once dry, it is reusable, compostable, or creatively recycled like dishtowels can be.

Currently we use beeswax from apiaries committed to bee-first practices, tree resin from trees used in reforestation projects, and monkey-free coconut oil. Everything is also either organic, natural, and/or ethical in nature, but we are always trying to do more. Such as create a vegan version! As stressed and imperiled as bee colonies currently are, while we try to support apiaries committed to overcoming colony collapse disorder (CCD) and the possible extinction of critical populations of bees, we are sensitive and motivated enough to look to non-bee harvested wax as a further solution and improvement. So far, we have experimented with a variety of plant-based waxes and oils and want to proceed further along these lines.

Idea Title

Replace plastic with washable, reusable, and compostable waxed-cloth alternatives.

Company / Organization Name

Website

www.khalacloths.com

Where are you / your team located?

Boulder, Colorado, USA

How does this Idea redesign unrecyclable small format plastic items that often end up as waste?

The idea is to take sustainably and respectfully-sourced spun cloth and infuse it with sustainably and respectfully-sourced wax to create a replacement for plastic wrap. Food stays as fresh or fresher than it does with plastic wrap, and when a Khala Cloth is done storing food it can be handwashed like a dishtowel and hung to dry like one too. Once dry, it is reusable, compostable, or creatively recycled like dishtowels can be. Khala Cloths: taking food packaging from landfill to reuse / compost.

Which use cases does your Idea apply to?

Khala Cloths can lead to the phasing out of unrecycled plastic based on the Use Cases of (1) single use sachets and (2) tear offs. Khala Cloths’ non-plastic wax wraps can be designed to enclose and open like a sachet (we already hand-fold them into bags), or cover containers just like a tear-off would (as they are already manufactured flat). After use, both Khala sachets and Khala tear-offs can be handwashed and reused, or composted/repurposed.

In what geographical context or area does your Idea plan to operate / solve?

The Khala Cloth replacement for sachets and tear-offs can work for companies and users alike where ever there is a non-exploitative source or supply of cloth, beeswax / plant-wax, tree resin, and coconut oil, and access to stove and oven.

How do you envision scaling up your Idea?

We will have to pitch to companies the possibility of replacing plastic sachets and tear-offs with Khala Cloth versions. In order to do so, we will need to present a plan that shows how we can best research, build prototypes, test, tweak, launch, and sustain replacements – what kind of money and timeframe needed. We need the personnel and productive capacity in place to do so. Obstacles we foresee are reliance on old ways of plastic use and cost concerns without solid "how to change" education.

At what stage of development is your Idea?

  • Piloting: You have started to implement your solution as a whole with a first set of real users. You may have started to develop a business model for your idea, including identifying key customer segments, relevant partnerships, go-to-market strategy, and draft financials.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea and working with the Think Beyond Plastics Accelerator Program will help to accelerate your solution.

Based on our existing production of plastic wrap alternatives for individual users, our goal is to mass produce Khala Cloth replacements for sachets and tear-offs. Step 1: secure ethical and consistent suppliers. 2: move into larger production space with product testing facilities. 3: streamline production for mass quantities. 4: create relationships with companies and markets that will support these replacements. Success Year 1 = at least 3 companies replacing with Khala sachets or tear-offs.

Please describe from where your Idea emerged

Khala Cloths was born when the owners’, Asa and Tamar McKee’s, family began to grow and they wanted to reduce the amount of plastic they used. Also concerned about what kind of environment their children would inherit, the McKees researched “What did people do before plastic?” They re-discovered waxed cloth and tree resin storage techniques and began experimenting with at-home beeswax based cloth wraps.

Tell us about your work experience

Tamar McKee is a PhD trained anthropologist with a focus on human-environment relationships. Asa McKee is a professional skiier, angler, gardener, and entrepreneur. Together, they blend head & heart.

Please describe your legal and organizational structure

Khala Cloths is a trademarked LLC registered in the state of Colorado, USA.

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Very cool! It's available to buy?