This guide covers Central Otago District only. For other parts of the Otago Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in Otago homepage.
NB: All our regional guides cover as many low-waste options as we could find for food, drink, kitchen and food packaging, cleaning products and bathroom products – scroll down to view each category.
FOOD OPTIONS (I.E. STORES THAT OFFER LOOSE ITEMS WHICH YOU CAN PUT, UNPACKAGED, INTO YOUR OWN BYO BAGS/CONTAINERS)
- Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street, Alexandra – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk/unpackaged (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, legumes, flours, dried fruit, pasta, and baking goods like baking soda and baking powder), a range of spices, sweets, treats and snacks, and liquid foods like vinegars, oils, honey, syrups etc. They also have a peanut butter extruder, just BYO jar! All Bin Inns across the country offer a 5% discount if you bring your own bags and containers.
- The Fridge Butchery Delicatessen, 48 Tarbert Street, Alexandra – get a range of unpackaged meat, olives, salads, smoked salmon and unpackaged cuts of some cheeses like brie straight into BYO containers – woo!
- The Courthouse Café, 8 Centennial Ave, Alexandra – bakes and sells some beautiful bread in-store which you can get without packaging, just BYO bag!
- Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra – stocks fresh dates unpackaged, Ceres Organics Raw Goodness bars (which are wrapped in Econic home compostable packaging), and also offers refills of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup (just BYO clean bottle). Thrive does order in bulk organic dried goods, but it’s unclear whether customers are welcome to BYO bags/containers to be filled directly out back – we have been told both yes and no by different people. Your best bet is just to keep asking!
- New World Alexandra, 89 Centennial Ave, Alexandra – as well as the usual pricey bulk bin/pick and mix section (use BYO bags), this New World also sells unpackaged bread and bakery goods (BYO bag) and unpackaged live mussels (we put these straight into an upcycled ice cream container). They also stock Trade Aid 2kg bags of sugar, Trade Aid chocolate bars, and Loving Earth raw chocolate (which all come in home compostable packaging).
- Sausage Alley, 27 Sunderland Street, Clyde – only open Fridays 8am-5pm. We didn’t get there when it was open, so hopefully they have their meats, sausages and small goods unpackaged so you can BYO container – if not, just ask!
- The Fridge Butchery Delicatessen Cromwell, 9 The Mall, Cromwell – sells unpackaged meat and cheese off the wheel through the deli cabinet, just BYO container to have it put into!
- New World Cromwell, 2 Murray Terrace, Cromwell – stocks Trade Aid 2kg bags of sugar – comes in unlined brown paper bags which are great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home compostable also.
- Cromwell Farmers’ and Craft Market, Cromwell Heritage Precinct (9am-1pm, every Sunday from Labour Weekend through to mid-April) – there’s nothing like going along to your local market to find packaging-free food (and also all kinds of other local creations). Shopping local is a great way to reduce waste because the food and goods don’t have to be packed up for travelling long distances and because you can have direct one-on-one conversations with the grower or producer, explaining that you don’t want their beautiful product in a packet, and brainstorming alternatives together (a kind of conversation/collaboration that is very difficult to have with a supermarket!!) For example, even if the seller has already packaged-up the goods, often you can ask to have them transferred to your own bag/container and have the seller keep their bag/container for reuse. Or ask the seller if they ever take back returned empties (whether glass jars for preserves or glass pottles for cosmetics/beauty products) for sterilisation and refill. Often the answer is yes, and you’ll also find that there are plenty of farmers and producers in around Central Otago already doing this!
- Milk – In Alexandra you can get milk powder put into your own bag/container at Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street. If you live nearer to Lawrence (although not technically in Central Otago), you are lucky to have access to Windy Ridge milk in reusable glass bottles – you can buy them from Blue Spur Butchery, 13a Ross Place, Lawrence. Windy Ridge uses glass milk bottles which you return when empty for sterilisation and reuse. So, when you buy your first bottle, you pay slightly more to cover the deposit on your bottles. When you’ve finished the milk, return the empty bottles and you can either have your deposit refunded or just buy your next bottle of fresh milk (at a lower price the second time on).
- Coffee – wherever possible, we encourage people to find places that sell whole or ground coffee beans unpackaged and have them put in BYO bags/containers. In Alexandra you can get coffee beans/ground beans put straight into your own bags/containers at Tin Goose Cafe, 22 Centennial Ave (from Unknown Chapter Coffee Roasters), or at Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street. In Cromwell your best bet is Trade Aid instant coffee (which comes in Econic home compostable packaging) which you can buy from New World Cromwell, 2 Murray Terrace.
- Beer – look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. We found locally brewed craft beer on tap at The Victoria Store Brewery, 34 Sunderland Street, Clyde; and a mix of craft and classic beer, both local and otherwise, at Super Liquor Alexandra, 33 Centennial Ave, and Super Liquor Cromwell, Barry Avenue. Or else, most liquor stores do ‘swappa crates’ of beer – i.e. crates of twelve 745ml bottles of classic NZ beer (e.g. Lion Red/Brown, Speights, Tui, Export Gold etc.) which can be returned (when the bottles are empty) so that the bottles can then be sterilised and reused (a better outcome for glass bottles than recycling because reusing the same bottle over and over requires way less energy and resources than recycling).
KITCHEN/FOOD PACKAGING ALTERNATIVES
Reusable drinking vessels (cups and water bottles)
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Find reusable takeaway coffee cups at Tin Goose Cafe, 22 Centennial Ave, Alexandra (Joco brand) and Nom Nom, 23 Holloway Street, Clyde (Express Cup brand); get reusable metal water bottles at Wrapt Gifts & Decor, 66 Centennial Ave, Alexandra.
Say “no straw thanks” next time you order a drink out and either use your mouth to drink, or get yourself a reusable metal straw instead. If you’re keen on a reusable metal straw, you can get them from Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra; Touch Yarns, 19 Sunderland Street, Clyde; and Paper Plus Cromwell, 19 The Mall, Cromwell.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap – find at Unichem Alexandra, 4-6 Centennial Ave (the Munch brand), Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra (the Honeywrap brand), and Freeway Orchard, 180 State Highway 8B, Cromwell (although this one is wrapped in plastic). NOTE: making your own beeswax wrap is much cheaper than buying it pre-made. To make it yourself you need to get natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. Touch Yarns, 19 Sunderland Street, Clyde is a great spot to get offcuts/discounted cotton fabric with pretty patterns, or keep a look out in second hand stores. Freeway Orchard, 180 State Highway 8B, Cromwell, sells unpackaged beeswax.
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra, and Go Bamboo veggie brushes (which can also be used as a dishbrush, and is home compostable) at Thrive and New World Alexandra, 89 Centennial Ave. We also encourage people to move away from using dishclothes, sponges and bench wipes made out of synthetic material (as these leach microfibres and they’re also destined for landfill when they wear down) and to use natural fibre cloths instead. New World Alexandra, 89 Centennial Ave and Four Square Clyde, 5 Fraser Street, Clyde both stock the Budget brand 100% cotton dishcloth. You can get the fancy Bianca Lorenne 100% cotton cloths at Touch Yarns, 19 Sunderland Street, Clyde, and locally knitted 100% cotton dishcloths at Gumnut Creations, Scotland Street, Roxburgh.
- Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street, Alexandra – stocks a wide range of both liquid and powdered cleaning products/ingredients you can fill your own bottles and containers with, including epsom salts, washing soda, baking soda, eco laundry powder and nappy wash.
- Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra – offers bulk refills of Ecostore dishwashing and laundry liquid, and also stocks Go Bamboo pegs made from bamboo with a metal spring mechanism.
- New World Alexandra, 89 Centennial Ave, Alexandra – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!) and Go Bamboo pegs made from bamboo with a metal spring mechanism.
- Low Waste Dental Care – Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (though bristles are still plastic and need to be removed from the handle and put in your rubbish bin). You can get the Humble Brush brand at Unichem Alexandra, 4-6 Centennial Ave, Alexandra Pharmacy, 60 Centennial Ave, New World Alexandra, 89 Centennial Ave (not in the toothbrush section but in the ‘organic’ section…!?), Splurge/Touch Yarns, 19 Sunderland Street, Clyde, Cromwell Pharmacy, 22 The Mall, Cromwell, and Lake Dunstan Pharmacy, 2A The Mall, Cromwell (who also stocks the Grin brand). You’ll find the Go Bamboo brand at Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra, and the Munch brand at Paper Plus Alexandra, 64 Centennial Ave, Alexandra.
- Unpackaged bars of Soap – find at Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra (including Ecostore bars and liquid hand soap refills), Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street, Alexandra, Wrapt Gifts & Decor, 66 Centennial Ave, Alexandra (Inga Ford soaps), Folklore Clyde, 19 Holloway Street, Clyde (made in-store), Creative Framing and Gifts, 25 The Mall, Cromwell and Cromwell Pharmacy, 22 The Mall, Cromwell.
- Bars for Shampoo/Shaving/Deodorant/Moisturiser – We’d encourage you to get your everyday toiletries – from shampoo through to shaving soap – in bar form, which means you totally avoid the plastic/aluminium bottles that liquid products usually come in! You can get the popular Ethique range of soap bars from Paper Plus Alexandra, 64 Centennial Ave, Alexandra (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging), and Paper Plus Cromwell, 19 The Mall, Cromwell.
- Menstrual Cups/Washable Pads – these are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. You can buy menstrual cups at Fine Things Lingerie Boutique, 50 Tarbert Street, Alexandra, Alexandra Pharmacy, 60 Centennial Ave, Alexandra, and Lake Dunstan Pharmacy, 2A The Mall, Cromwell.
- Shaving – avoid plastic shavers that are designed to be disposable and go for 100% metal razors that will last you decades and only require the 100% metal and recyclable blades to be replaced (or sharpened with a leather strop!). And remember to use a bar of shaving soap instead of shaving foam that comes in an aerosol can – you’ll need a shaving brush to make this work. We didn’t find anywhere that sells razors (though you can usually get your local barber or hairdresser to order them for you wholesale), but shaving brushes are sold at Unichem Alexandra, 4-6 Centennial Ave, Alexandra and Alexandra Pharmacy, 60 Centennial Ave, Alexandra.
- Other – Bin Inn Alexandra, 38 Tarbert Street, sells baking soda in bulk which you can use to make homemade toiletries. Thrive, 43 Tarbert Street, Alexandra, sells Greencane toilet paper (which is wrapped in home compostable packaging), Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds and Pitstop Power – a Dunedin-made organic natural deodorant which you can buy refills for that come in a cardboard box and wrapped in compostable baking paper (while you can buy the initial plastic dispenser for the refills, we reckon you can just go straight for the refill and use it like a deodorant bar, skipping the need for the plastic dispenser).
COMMUNITY GROUPS, SUPPORTIVE NETWORKS, AND HELP WITH TRICKY WASTE STREAMS
- Food Waste – food waste and scraps going to landfill not only produces methane, but also represents the loss of an excellent resource that could be turned into compost to enrich our soil, or, if the discarded food was still edible, the loss of perfectly good food that could go to someone that wants to eat it. If you haven’t yet got a system for dealing with your food waste and are unsure where to start, you could ask a neighbour or friend to help you set up a compost, or you could go to a workshop run by Central Otago REAP, 14/20 Centennial Avenue, Alexandra which runs semi-regular composting workshops. Or, you might want to purchase a worm farm or bokashi bin – you can get subsidised bokashi bins from Health 2000 Alexandra, 50 Tarbert Street or Wastebusters Alexandra, Boundary Road (discount subsidised by Central Otago District Council), or a subsidised worm farm from Central Wormworx, Cromwell. Don’t forget about greenwaste too, which also doesn’t belong in landfill. You can drop greenwaste off at the Ranfurly, Roxburgh, Alexandra and Cromwell transfer stations for a small fee, where it will be mulched rather than landfilled.
- E-waste – electronic waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, with huge environmental implications because of the toxins this waste leaches, but also the loss of incredibly precious resources embedded in these items that are not recovered when the waste is dumped in landfill. Rather than throwing your broken electronics out – have you considered trying to get them repaired first? You could pay someone to do it, or look out for Repair or Fix-it Cafes where experts donate their time to fix people’s broken items for free at a designated repair event (usually run by community centres, churches or councils – perhaps ask if a centre near you might be interested in running a session). If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to Wastebusters Alexandra, Boundary Road, for recycling and safe disposal (a small fee will be payable for the processing of the electronics for recycling).
- Wastebusters Alexandra, Boundary Road – Wastebusters Alexandra is wonderful and is run by Wanaka Wastebusters (long recognised as one of the leading community recyclers in the country). Wastebusters is the place to take your recycling in Alexandra because its approach often means it achieves better recycling outcomes than the local kerbside collection (for example, Central Otago District Council recently revealed that glass recycling put out on the kerb for collection has been taken to landfill, while all glass recycling taken to Wastebusters Alexandra is sent to New Zealand’s only glass recycling in Auckland to be recycled back into new glass bottles and jars). Apart from a drop-off for household recycling, you can also drop-off harder to recycle items here, from batteries through to e-waste, textiles, and building materials and other hardware. The range of things the community can drop-off also makes Wastebusters a GREAT place to get your magpie on and scavenge some real treasures. The on-site re-use shop is excellent, very well-stocked, making it a perfect place to find secondhand items rather than buying them new. If you’re wanting a new appliance or gadget, new toys or bikes, or if you’re undertaking a craft, building or home maker project and need some wood off-cuts, scrap metal, bolts, nuts or other building equipment, go to Wastebusters before you go anywhere else – you’ll be amazed at what you can find, at super low prices.
- Central Otago REAP, 14/20 Centennial Avenue, Alexandra – Central Otago REAP runs a huge range of workshops and programs to support more sustainable living, and many touch on waste issues or the kinds of resilience skills that help you to reduce waste at home. In particular, check out Making a Difference for Central Otago (MAD4CO), which is the action arm of the Sustainable Living Program at the Central Otago REAP. Through MAD4CO, local groups, businesses, schools, Council and individuals work together on community projects centred on sustainability, resilience and wise use of resources. The group also holds regular forums where local experts share their knowledge on issues, many of which touch on skills that are really helpful for reducing household rubbish, such as ecological footprinting, permaculture and organic gardening, and food resilience. So check out both Central Otago Reap’s website and the MAD4CO Facebook page for info on upcoming events and to start connecting with interested locals.
- Central Otago Alexandra Buy, Sell, Exchange – are you on the lookout for something in particular – a knick knack, a household appliance, hardware, anything?! Before going to buy it new in a shop, see if you can find it on the Alexandra Buy, Sell, Exchange Facebook page first! And, if you’ve got items you no longer want but which someone else might, don’t chuck them out, list them on this page to see if someone else wants them instead!
- Boomerang Bags Alexandra – Boomerang Bags is an excellent initiative spreading across the country that equips people to avoid plastic shopping bags by making cloth bags available on stands inside and outside local stores and supermarkets. Look out for the beautiful Alexandra Boomerang Bags on stands around town. These bags are sewn by local volunteers out of upcycled fabric at regular sewing bees. If you’re interested in sewing bags then join the Boomerang Bags Alexandra Facebook group, or get in touch with Amy Delport, the local facilitator. Even if you don’t know how to sew (yet) there are things you can do, and it’s probably a great way to learn! We believe sewing is an essential resilience skill for low-waste living, so what better way to start learning than through helping to reduce plastic bag consumption and divert textile waste?!
- Sewing Angels at The Hospice Shop Alexandra, 53 Centennial Avenue – The Alexandra Hospice Shop has a group called the Sewing Angels who use their creative genius to make all manner of handmade items from upcycled fabrics. Many of these items can help people reduce waste, like reusable shopping bags. Go in to The Hospice Shop to check out the Sewing Angels’ work (you might even be tempted to buy one of the creations OR maybe you can request one of the Angels make you a particular upcycled fabric item to help you reduce waste – like a cutlery holder or a reusable sandwich pouch). If you’ve got sewing skills and would like to help divert some textile waste as well, or if you’d like to learn a thing or two, maybe you can become a Sewing Angel too!
- Toy Libraries – reduce the wasteful over-consumption of toys and save money by joining a toy library! Check out this list of toy libraries in Central Otago to find the nearest one to you!
- Menzshed – Menzshed provides a great opportunity for men of all ages to share tools and a workspace (reducing the wasteful overduplication of these resources) and to pass on skills of woodworking and other trades. Menzsheds frequently offer communities the service of repairing broken items like furniture (at a small cost), work with upcycled material that might otherwise go to waste, and create bespoke items for community and charitable purposes. Definitely look up your local – there’s a Menzshed in Alexandra.
- Manuherikia Food Forest Group – on the Eastern corner of Centennial Park you’ll find a developing treasure – a food forest for Alexandra! Drop down to check out what delicious, unpackaged food is hanging from the trees, or take the chance to learn more about gardening and planting by volunteering some time or joining for a working bee session.