Photos in the feature image of Uawa Sewing Bee (left) and community-made reusable bags and beeswax wraps in Waiapu Kōkā Huhua (right). Thanks to Rawinia Kingi and Tina Ngata for kindly sharing with us.
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!
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 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).
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:
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:
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:
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).
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne; Unichem Bramwells Pharmacy, 232 Gladstone Road, Gisborne (metal), The Discount ‘T’, 119 Gladstone Road, Gisborne (metal), and Village Homeware, 130 Ormond Ave, Gisborne (metal).
There are a few places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Gisborne:
Reusable lunch boxes or containers are great to have on you when you’re out and about in case you want to get takeaways, to carry leftovers home with you, or if you find food to forage. You can get glass/pyrex containers with plastic/silicone lids at Farmers Gisborne, 152 Gladstone Road, Gisborne; and Meals in Steel stainless steel containers at Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne.
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. Find Rethink 100% organic cotton produce, bulk and string bags at Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne; the produce and bulk bin bags at Down to Earth, 93 Grey Street, Gisborne and Down to Earth, 131 Ormond Road, Gisborne; and the produce and string bags at Tairāwhiti Environment Centre, 386 Palmerston Road, Gisborne.
Say “no straw thanks” next time you order a drink out and either use your mouth to drink, or get yourself a reusable straw instead. You can get metal, bamboo or glass straws at Tairāwhiti Environment Centre, 386 Palmerston Road, Gisborne, or reusable metal straws from Palembang Home, 126 Gladstone Road, Gisborne; and Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne.
The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottle/container!
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne; Interiors Kitchenware, 47 Ballance Street, Gisborne; and Kō, 200 Palmerston Road, Gisborne (lots of different heads here). Also, Kō, Isla & Olive, and the Tairāwhiti Environment Centre, 386 Palmerston Road, Gisborne, all stock wooden veggie brushes with plant fibre bristles which can also be used as dishbrushes (they just don’t have a handle) – they’re also 100% home compostable should they ever wear down.
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:
NB: you can get lots of zero waste alternatives for common bathroom items through Isla and Olive, an excellent business run from Gisborne by local Leigh with an online store where you can buy a range of useful products that are essential to zero waste living. If you’re local to Gisborne, you should be able to arrange to pick-up any purchases from Leigh, to save on postage waste/costs. They now also have a physical store, so go in and see them!
It’s easy to get soap without packaging in Gisborne/Tairāwhiti. The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap:
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!
There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads.
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 (see above) – if you like, you can apply this soap with a shaving brush, though you can just use your hands… You can buy razors, replacement blades and shaving brushes at Isla & Olive, 38 Childers Road, Gisborne; Palembang Home, 126 Gladstone Road, Gisborne. Shaving brushes are also sold at Unichem Bramwells Pharmacy, 232 Gladstone Road, Gisborne; Peel Street Barber Shop, 16 Peel Street, Gisborne; and Kō, 200 Palmerston Road, Gisborne.