This guide covers Christchurch Central only. For other parts of Christchurch, please refer to the Zero Waste in Christchurch City homepage.
Lots of pantry staples – from flours, grains and rice, through to condiments, spices, legumes, nuts, seeds and liquid foods – usually come in single-use packets. These shops stock all manner of pantry foods loose in bulk bins (or operate return & refill systems for their packaging), allowing you to put these goods straight into your own bags, jars, containers and bottles, and skip the packaging!
- Yogiji’s Food Mart, 569B Colombo Street – this Indian grocery store stocks a wide range of loose/unpackaged grains, lots of flours, sugar, dried fruit, nuts, legumes, spices, seeds, salt, and more.
- Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street – this well known and loved, long-running organic bulk store stocks a range of loose/unpackaged seeds, nuts, dried fruit, grains, sugar, cereal/muesli, legumes, and more. There’s also a great range of liquid foods on tap, including syrups (e.g. maple, agave), oils (incl sesame, olive), honeys, vinegars, tahini, tamari, and more.
- Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue – this super affordable organic store (we call it the Pak’n Save of organics) stocks a decent range of loose/unpackaged goods, including nuts (in shells), legumes, grains, buckwheat, seeds, sugar, salt and peanuts, as well as having a good range of produce, and organic flour in large paper bags.
- Supermarkets – all major supermarkets in Christchurch have well stocked bulk bin/pick and mix sections with wholefoods (BYO bags for these). However they’re pretty expensive, often more so than equivalent ingredients in packets (bah!), and more so than the bulk bins at places like Bin Inn or Piko Wholefoods.
The following shops sell unpackaged meat, sausages, smallgoods, seafood, cheese and/or deli foods and will happily put these straight into a BYO container – woohoo!
- The Mediterranean Food Co., 322 Tuam Street – BYO container for deli food over the counter, including olives, sundried tomatoes, anchovies and cured meats/salami.
- Try your luck with BYO containers at the supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more – all unpackaged. Some supermarkets will allow you to BYO container for these goods, while others won’t. It can be hit and miss, often depending on the staff member you talk to. It’s always worth asking wherever you shop though!
- Supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering unpackaged meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more. All Countdown supermarkets officially allow you to BYO container for these goods! Watch this space for when New World and PAK’nSAVE supermarkets extend this practice to the South Island also…
The following stores bake and sell unpackaged bread and bakery goods (in some of these stores some items might be pre-packed or wrapped in cling film, just avoid those things!). Simply BYO bread bag to put the bread/bakery goods into. Some places will bag up their bread later in the day, so you want to get in there before they do that (i.e. before 1pm).
- Uh-oh! We haven’t filled this info out yet for Christchurch Central – any places you know of?
- Markets – No two ways about it, if you want a good source of unpackaged (often locally grown) produce, markets are the place to go! At most markets you can meet the grower/producer face-to-face, making them an ideal place to start fruitful conversations about waste-free food, and to develop relationships and systems that enable you to get your favourite fruit, vege and preserves without the packaging. You may also find local producers of pre-made foods like tofu, preserves and sauces etc. Have a chat to see if you can leave containers with the stall holders for them to fill with your desired product for you to pick up from them the following week, or if the stallholder uses glass jars for packaging, ask whether they will take their empty glass jars back for sterilisation and reuse. Often the answer is yes! There are some splendid markets in Christchurch and we weren’t able to visit all of them to see what low-waste goodies were on offer – but we encourage you to find your local market (if you haven’t already) and have a hunt around for what you can get without waste!
- Trade Aid – Trade Aid‘s 1.5kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home compostable once they do fall apart. You can get them from FreshChoice City Market, 71 Lichfield Street.
- Veggie boxes/co-ops – there are lots of fruit and veg co-ops around town from whom you can order your veggies each week. Around the country we’ve found that unless these co-ops have a zero waste policy, the fruit and veg will usually be pre-packed, so it’s essential to contact them before ordering and have a conversation about whether the co-op is willing to use reusable bags for your box, or to leave things unpackaged (you may be the first person who’s ever asked, so always good to plant the seed!). Generally, if it’s a local operation, it should be possible to arrange this. If it’s not possible to arrange, we recommend looking elsewhere or simply getting unpackaged fruit and vege from markets or supermarkets. Some veggie box schemes to look at are the Affordable Fruit and Vege Group (which many community organisations are linked into, so there’ll likely be a local pick-up in your area), Veggie Co-op New Brighton, Lyttelton Fruit and Vege Collective, Christchurch South Fruit and Vegetable Collective, Ooooby, and Lucy’s Growers Market.
Look out for places that sell whole or ground coffee beans unpackaged, and bring your own bag and container to fill. Going direct to coffee roasters is the best option, but you can also look out for bulk dispensers of unpackaged coffee in other stores (which usually have in-store grinders also). Here are the spots we found that offer these options:
- Magnitude Coffee, 2/314 Tuam Street
- Underground Coffee Roasters, 190 Durham Street South
- Unknown Chapter, 254 St Asaph Street
- Coffee Culture, 2 Elgin Street
- Black & White Coffee Cartel in SIX(!) central locations: 83 Victoria Street, 32 Oxford Terrace, 150 Lichfield Street, 71 Lichfield Street, 169 High Street, and 27 Plymouth Lane
We avoid teabags as most have plastic in them, which we don’t want in our tea or our soil. Using loose leaf tea is an easy way to get around this. The trick is to find somewhere that sells loose leaf tea packaging-free, so you can put the leaves straight into BYO jars/containers! You’ll find loose tea leaves in bulk dispensers at:
- Uh-oh! No stockists of unpackaged loose leaf tea in Christchurch Central (have we missed anywhere?)
- Bell‘s loose leaf tea is packaged only in paper and cardboard (no plastic) and is readily available at most supermarkets, Four Squares and dairies.
Sourcing cow’s milk without the plastic bottles or non-dairy milk without the dreaded Tetra-pak is no mean feat! We’ve found the following options:
- Uh-oh! No options for waste-free milk in Christchurch central! (Any we’ve missed?)
Look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. Breweries are awesome, but lots of liquor stores offer this option too! We found beer on tap at:
Also, don’t forget that 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) and are then sent back to the brewery for sterilisation and refill (a better outcome for glass bottles than recycling because reusing the same bottle over and over requires way less energy and resources than recycling).
- Uh-oh! We haven’t tracked down any waste-free other drink options – any we’ve missed – drinking chocolate, kombucha, juice on tap or through bottle swap systems?
Reusable drinking vessels (cups and water bottles)
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; Hapa, Re:Start Container Mall, corners of Lichfield, Durham and Cashel Streets, and BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street (opening soon); The General Store, Plymouth Lane; and Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street.
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Christchurch:
- Find the Keep Cup brand at Underground Coffee Roasters, 190 Durham Street South; and Coffee Culture, 2 Elgin Street.
- Get the NZ-made Cuppa Coffee Cup at The General Store, Plymouth Lane
- Get the very leak proof Frank Green cups at Coffee Culture, 2 Elgin Street.
- Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street – stocks various reusable takeaway coffee cups (including ceramic varieties, Joco cups and Frank Green).
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 Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street.
Reusable bags (shopping bags, produce bags and bulk bin bags)
Plastic shopping bags are a menace, but so too are those plastic produce bags for fruit and vege or the plastic bags often offered alongside bulk bins at bulk stores. You can avoid them by bringing your own bags or buying a set of reusable produce bags. You can get 100% organic cotton produce bags by Rethink at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street. There are also foldable shopping bags at Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap
- Purchase at – Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; The General Store, Plymouth Lane; Hapa, Re:Start Container Mall, corners of Lichfield, Durham and Cashel Streets, and BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street (opening soon); The Gift Shop, The Crossing, 7/166 Cashel Street; and Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street.
Refills of cleaning products
The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers:
- Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street – a range of brands, but note that Aroma Naturals actually takes their bulk containers back for refill, so we recommend choosing to refill your bottles with their product – plus it’s locally-made, even better!)
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; and Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue.
You can also get Safix scourers made of coconut fibre at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street
- Soapnuts – a type of berry that contains saponin and can be used to clean laundry. Can be home composted when spent. Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street stocks SoapNut NZ in a cardboard box (no plastic lining).
Ingredients for DIY toiletries/cosmetics
- Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street and Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue stock bars of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here).
Zero waste teeth and mouth
- Bamboo toothbrushes – 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 a rubbish bin). You can find bamboo toothbrushes at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; and Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue.
Unpackaged Bars of Soap
The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap:
- Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street
- Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue
- Hapa, Re:Start Container Mall, corners of Lichfield, Durham and Cashel Streets, and BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street (opening soon)
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!
- Many places stock the popular Ethique range which includes shampoo bars, conditioner bars, shaving bars, deodorant bars, moisturiser bars, etc. (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging): Hapa, Re:Start Container Mall, corners of Lichfield, Durham and Cashel Streets, and BNZ Centre, 120 Hereford Street (opening soon); Unichem Cashel Pharmacy, 3/111 Cashel Street; and Shut the Front Door!, 268 High Street.
- Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street – stocks locally made Kerrs Road soaps and shampoo bars wrapped in paper
- You can get Global Soap 3 in 1 shower/shave/shampoo bars at Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue
- Earth Organic Hairdressing, 181 High Street – stocks Botanicals shampoo bars made in Upper Moutere, Tasman
Reusable Menstrual Products
There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. Menstrual cups and Reusable, washable pads are available at Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street.
- Cotton Buds – Go Bamboo makes home compostable buds so you can avoid the single-use, unrecyclable plastic ones. Get them from Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; and Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue
- Toilet Paper – Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street; and Liberty Market, 493 Moorhouse Avenue both stock Greencane toilet paper (which comes in fully home compostable packaging).
- Liquid toiletries on tap – Piko Wholefoods, 229 Kilmore Street has bulk containers of hand wash, shampoo and conditioner for refills into a BYO container/bottle.
NB: This section is Christchurch-wide, rather than limited to Christchurch Central.
Reuse and Recycle
- Food waste and composting
- Household 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! In Christchurch you are very fortunate that the City Council runs a green bin system, so please use this for your food scraps. Remember though that when you give your food scraps to the council, you are giving away a valuable resource. If you are interested in starting up gardening, you might consider setting up a home compost so that you can nourish your own garden and avoid having to buy compost in plastic bags.
- Edible business food waste: If you are a Christchurch business chucking out food that is still edible but not saleable, you can get in touch with City Harvest – an excellent initiative that takes from businesses edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and redistributes it to people who need it.
- E-waste – electronic waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, with huge environmental implications because of the toxins that can be leached from this waste, but also the loss of precious resources embedded in these items that are not recovered when the waste is dumped in landfill.
- Repair: Rather than throwing your broken electronics out – have you considered trying to get them repaired first? You could pay someone to do it, for example, Ecotech Services Ltd, 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 – Project Lyttelton and Linwood Resource Centre are two such examples).
- Recycle – If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, there are lots of places around Christchurch where you can take your e-waste to be recycled (just a heads up that there will be a small fee). Check out Kilmarnock Enterprises, an awesome social enterprise operating from the Wigram Business Park that accepts a wide range of e-waste for recycling, providing jobs of meaning for people with disabilities, or Ecotech Services Ltd, that strives for zero e-waste to landfill. Alternatively, you can take your e-waste to one of the three EcoDrops around town to see if they’ll accept for recycling the particular electronic you have, or else you can get in touch with E-Cycle, which also operates in Christchurch.
- EcoCentral – For all your recycling and reusing needs, look out for EcoCentral’s EcoShop, 191 Blenheim Road, and the three EcoDrops around the city. If you’ve got a hard-to-recycle item you no longer want, rather than chucking it out, perhaps it can be reused or recycled – check out the range of items that EcoDrop will accept to see if what you’ve got is on the list. Or, if you ever need a household appliance, crockery, cutlery, furniture or other knick-knack, we recommend going to the EcoDrop (or, for that matter, any other secondhand store) to see if you can find it there first. We were very blown away by the range of goods at the EcoShop.
- Second-hand shopping in Christchurch – there’s no two ways about it – buying things that you need secondhand instead of brand new reduces waste. First, because you save something that might have otherwise been sent to landfill from such a tragic fate. Second, by using something that’s already in existence, you save on the waste and energy that is necessary to manufacture a brand new item. Luckily for you, Anthea Madill of Eco Oikos has created A Secondhand Shopping Guide and Map for Christchurch – yay!
Christchurch Zero Waste Vendors with Mainly Online Presence
- The Rubbish Whisperer is a legendary Christchurch local (Helen Rupp) who is advocating for low-waste living and helping other New Zealanders to do so too by selling items online that help with low-waste living on her website, including alternatives to plastic straws and disposable produce bags. The Rubbish Whisperer also supplies fundraising packs so that schools and scouts can sell items like reusable produce bags for fundraising, rather than chocolate bars and biscuits, which we think is an excellent idea!
- The Green Housewife is based in Christchurch and makes a huge range of eco friendly cleaning products. Though it’s all packaged on the online shop, given that she’s based in Christchurch and seems really approachable, you may be able to contact her and ask whether you could get cleaning products from her in person, without the packaging, into your own bottles and containers. She has a stall at the monthly Halswell Farmers Market, so you could ask her there!
- The Zephyr Co. is a Christchurch-based online store selling NZ-made zero waste products, including beautiful stainless steel straws, produce and bulk bin bags, cotton cleaning cloths and face rounds, and awesome wood and metal craft, among other things!
Zero Waste Information and Support Networks
- Our Daily Waste – a Christchurch-based recycling and waste prevention consultancy run by Dr Sharon McIver. Our Daily Waste supports businesses to reduce waste, runs waste audits and waste education, and helps those who are running events to turn them into zero waste events.
- Low-waste living advocates – there are lots of experts in household waste reduction in Christchurch, all contributing their insights in different and exciting ways. Apart from Helen Rupp (AKA The Rubbish Whisperer, mentioned above), check out Anthea Madill (AKA Eco Oikos and Remix Plastic – see below) who blogs about her zero waste life, supporting others to try out low-waste living too. Her blog is full of useful tips, tricks and insights (like her secondhand shopping guides) and we totally recommend you check it out! Also on the scene is Tess McKay with her Facebook page TrashLess which is bursting at the seams with tips and food for thought on low-waste living.
- Remix Plastic – Christchurch’s plastic avoidance and waste conscious living tour de force! Remix Plastic runs HEAPS of workshops on different aspects of low-waste living in both schools and in the community. Part of their approach is to highlight the problems of plastic through small-scale recycling and upcycling of plastic items using a plastic chipper to break up plastic and then recreate it into awesome new items. This leads to great hands-on activities. However, Remix Plastic is about so much more than that. Check the website out and see all the fabulous workshops they have on offer 🙂
- Sustainable Living Christchurch – A Facebook group that people in Christchurch can join to ask advice on sustainable living and where to buy eco products, share their services, and general discussion about all topics eco friendly. The group also organises regular Zero Waste meet-ups (check the event section on the group page) to share ideas, learn about what’s happening already in the Christchurch area, and create initiatives around zero waste where there might currently be gaps.
Skills, Resilience and Resourcefulness in Communities
- Rekindle – we can’t speak highly enough about Rekindle, founded by the absolutely visionary Juliet Arnott. Rekindle is an organisation focused on reducing waste through building community resourcefulness (as Rekindle notes, resourcefulness is the flipside of wastefulness). Rekindle has run many projects since its birth in 2011, including Whole House Reuse, which involved saving all the materials from a house that was to be demolished and redesigning them into beautiful artifacts (thus saving the materials from landfill). The organisation also runs regular free Resourceful Skills Workshops every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 12-4pm at 100 Peterborough Street, and has recently launched The Journal of Resourcefulness that features contributions by experts on all aspects of resourcefulness. ALSO, Rekindle has produced their own Zero Waste in Ōtautahi Map! It includes some of the places listed in our guide, as well as secondhand stores, and it’s in a beautiful, user-friendly format. Check it out (click on the pictures to enlarge):
- Project Lyttelton – This amazing community organisation runs a range of projects that touch on waste reduction and which, even if you don’t live in Lyttelton, are well worth consideration! They run the oldest Timebank in the country. Through timebanking you can share skills and services without the exchange of money, making it a great way to reduce waste on a budget because you can harness skills of creating and repairing that exist in your community (repairing broken clothes or electronics, for example), or having someone pass these skills on to you (how to garden, how to build). Perhaps you have some of these skills already that you could pass on to someone else for time credits? Project Lyttelton is also in the process of setting up a Library of Tools and Things, which will allow members to borrow items that are useful when you need them, but which you don’t necessarily need to own to get their benefit, such as tools and camping equipment. Systems such as these avoid the wasteful overduplication of these resources that stems from everyone owning their own set of tools or tents. If you would like to donate tools or other items, check this list to see what is currently being sought. Project Lyttelton’s Waste Matters project is also worth a look, providing lots of useful info and services to the Lyttelton community for waste reduction.
- Toy Libraries – reduce the wasteful over-consumption of toys and save money by joining a toy library! Check out this guide to find the nearest Toy Library to you.
- Menzshed – there are Menzsheds throughout Christchurch City. 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 also create bespoke items for community and charitable purposes. Definitely look up your local!
- Community gardens – community gardens are an excellent way for residents to get kai without packaging, and to learn skills of growing food and setting up composts – both very useful skills for low-waste living. Christchurch has an absolutely incredible network of community gardens, so there’s sure to be one near you (there’s even one at the University of Canterbury – that’s Okeover Community Garden – so students can get amongst it too. In fact, you’re allowed to take from the garden if you participate in the working bees – yus! Just contact UC DigSoc). Community gardens are always looking for volunteers to help out and come along to working bees, so if you are interested in picking up gardening skills, or if you are already a keen gardener and would like to have the opportunity to share your skill with others, consider getting involved with your local community garden. While not strictly a community garden, we also want to give a shout out to Cultivate Christchurch who are a trailblazing organisation rethinking urban food systems in New Zealand through their urban farms and composting in Christchurch – check them out or head over to a working bee. Food resilience is a core component of low-waste living and an organisation like Cultivate that places food resilience at its fore is certainly one to watch.
- Rad Bikes (Repair a Dunger) – got a bike that needs fixing? Found a beat up bike somewhere that looked like it might be get chucked out if not for some TLC? Want to do a bike up to save it from landfill? Have no idea what to do or where to start? Check out RAD Bikes – a not-for-profit bike workshop space. Anyone can come and work on their bike here and learn the essential skills for doing so. Sharing tools and a space reduces waste, and getting up to scratch on bike repair techniques will save you money, and potentially also a bike that would otherwise get biffed. You can also come to the shed to restore bikes to give away. Such a great initiative!
- Sewing, crafts, knitting, crochet – We’re of the view that sewing, crafts, knitting and crochet are all key skills for combating waste in our lives (whether it’s the ability to make your own produce bags and beeswax wraps, knit a dishcloth, or repair broken clothes). In Christchurch you can find great organisations where you can get involved to either learn or pass on those skills, complete community sewing projects, or simply complete your own sewing projects in the company of others. A stand out example is Stitch-o-mat in New Brighton, which runs lots of great events, including Learn to Sew Mondays. Joining a group that is sewing reusable bags to give out to the community is also a great way to learn to sew while helping to reduce plastic bag consumption and these groups are always looking for volunteers (regardless of whether or not you have prior sewing knowledge). For example, check out Plastic Shopping Bag Free Lyttelton, Boomerang Bags Christchurch or Project Lyttelton’s Welcome Bags project.