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NB: All our regional guides cover as many low-waste options as we could find for:
- Kitchen and food packaging
- Cleaning products
- Bathroom products
Scroll down to view each category.
At the end of the guide, we also list community groups, council services and ideas for tricky waste streams, so make sure you scroll down to that too!
FOOD OPTIONS (I.E. STORES THAT OFFER LOOSE ITEMS WHICH YOU CAN PUT, UNPACKAGED, INTO YOUR OWN BYO BAGS/CONTAINERS)
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. Here, we list shops that stock all manner of pantry foods loose in bulk bins (or which at least have an option for you to avoid unnecessary packaging), so that you can put these ingredients straight into your own bags, jars, containers and bottles, and skip the packaging!
- Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim – this place is AWESOME! Has a huge range of bulk bins stocking nuts, snacks, dried fruit, legumes, pasta, grains, flours, seeds, powders (incl cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda), cereal, chocolate chips + buttons, sweets, spices and pet food. It also has a peanut butter extruder (just BYO jar to fill up!) and a massive range of liquid bulk syrups, honeys, jams, molasses, sauces, oils, and vinegars.
- Benge & Co Green Grocers/Guyton’s Seafood, 20 Grove Road, Blenheim – a very affordable joint grocery store. As well as a great range of produce, Benge & Co has deli food (e.g. olives), refill olive oil, and loose salad leaves, all of which you can put in your own container/bottle/bag.
- BB Foods, 31 Scott Street, Blenheim – stocks a range of spices, nuts, legumes, grains, flours and sugar in bulk bins.
- Mr. Asian, 3 Twelfth Lane, Blenheim – stocks various types of rice (including sushi rice) in bulk bins.
- Anita’s Organic Store, 46B Wynen Street, Blenheim – Although the store has lots of bulk bins, everything inside them is repackaged. The repackaging used is either brown paper, which is home compostable, or cellophane. When we asked, staff were unable to confirm whether the cellophane used was 100% cellulose – and therefore home compostable – or if it had some petroleum in. If you shop here regularly, it could be worth conversing with Anita and staff about whether they would consider putting their bulk items into BYO bags/containers (rather than their own packaging), or start using the bulk bins again.
- BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim – stocks loose dried chillis and chipotle unpackaged and you can refill BYO bottles with high-end extra virgin olive oil. At the deli, BYO containers for unpackaged olives, preserved lemons and other nice deli food.
- J Bush & Sons Honey, 168 Old Renwick Road, Blenheim – get BYO jars filled with honey here for a very reasonable price.
- Taylor Pass Honey Co, 12 Taylor Pass Road, Blenheim – five varieties of locally made honey on tap! You even save money if you BYO container.
- Supermarkets (Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton; New World, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim; PAK’nSAVE Blenheim, Springlands, Blenheim; Countdown Blenheim, 51 Arthur Street, Blenheim) – these supermarkets have 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 Real Food Grocer and Sustainance. Fresh Choice in Picton and New World in Blenheim both stock loose, unpackaged salad leaves and/or greens that you can put straight into a BYO bag/container (the New World has quite a good range of unpackaged greens, including spinach, watercress, rocket, mesclun and lettuce).
Places that sell unpackaged meat, sausages, smallgoods and/or seafood, who are happy for you to BYO container to put the goods in.
- Guyton’s Seafood, 20 Grove Road, Blenheim – Guyton’s sells various seafood (incl. smoked mussels!) unpackaged at the deli, just byo containers.
- Meaters of Marlborough, Corner of Litchfield Street and Maxwell Road, Blenheim – apart from their non-packaged meat which they’ll happily put into a BYO container, this store also sells local olive oil on tap for refilling your bottles (make sure you request, when handing the empty bottle over, that they don’t wrap the bottle up afterwards in brown paper, which they will otherwise do!)
- Westmeat, Corner of Alabama and Main South Roads, Blenheim – although a lot of the meat is already packaged in plastic, the butchers are happy for customers to BYO container for what isn’t packaged.
- Renwick Meat Market, 82 High Street, Renwick – get fresh cuts of meat into a BYO container at this butchery.
- Unpackaged live mussels – there are a few stores around town that stock unpackaged live mussels at self-serve counters. We put them straight into upcycled ice cream containers/BYO containers rather than the plastic bags the stores usually provide. You can find unpackaged live mussels at Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton and New World, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim.
- 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. For example, New World supermarkets have a flexible franchise model which means they can usually make their own in store decisions about whether to allow BYO containers or not, whereas pretty much any Countdown will not accept BYO containers. It’s always worth asking though! Supermarkets with delis: New World Blenheim, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim; and PAK’nSAVE Blenheim, Springlands, Blenheim.
The following stores bake and sell unpackaged bread and bakery goods (some things in some of these stores might be pre-packed or wrapped in cling film, just avoid those things!). So all you need to do is BYO 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 early enough before they do that (i.e. before 1pm).
- Picton Village Bakkerij, 26 Auckland Street, Picton
- BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim
- Brumby’s Blenheim, 65 Queen St, Blenheim
- You can also get unpackaged, locally-made bread at the Marlborough Farmers’ Market!
- The following supermarkets stock unpackaged bread, bread rolls and/or bakery goods, just BYO bags: Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton; New World Blenheim, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim; PAK’nSAVE Blenheim, Springlands, Blenheim; and Countdown Blenheim, 51 Arthur Street, Blenheim.
Markets, food deliveries, and other low-waste goodies you might not have thought of
- Marlborough Food Network – an awesome, affordable, totally local fruit and veg box scheme run out of Joocy Loocy, 4 John Street, Blenheim. A standard box is $25 a week. Fruit and vege comes in a reusable crate and NO plastic packaging is used. There are some paper bags, but you can request that even these are left out, if you wish. This is a great, flexible, affordable fruit and veg box service that prioritises local produce and really cares about reducing waste – what more could you want?!
- Fresh2U Organic Food Delivery – organic, locally-grown fruit + vege boxes with NO packaging delivered to your door, anywhere in Marlborough in an upcycled cardboard box! The odd item might occasionally come in plastic, if you don’t want this, simply say that you want a 100% plastic-free/packaging-free box when you set up your order and the business owner and packer, Lucy, will ensure no plastic gets in your box. If you’re looking for local, hassle-free organic produce that is zero waste, Fresh2U is absolutely one to check out!
- Markets! No two ways about it, if you want to get a good source of unpackaged, often locally grown, produce, markets are the place to frequent! We’ve found that markets, where you can meet the grower/producer face-to-face, are really great for starting fruitful conversations about waste-free food, and developing relationships and systems that enable you to get your favourite fruit, vege and preserves without the packaging. At the Marlborough Artisan Market, 32 Wynen Street, Blenheim, you can find stallholders selling local honeys and preserves in glass jars – ask whether you can return the jars for reuse. At the Marlborough Farmers’ Market, 24 Maxwell Road, Blenheim, you can get some locally made bread and produce without the packaging. But we recommend asking to see if you can get your fave goods unpackaged – it’s always worth progressing the conversation!
- Trade Aid – Trade Aid’s 2kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home compostable once they do wear out. Trade Aid’s coconut oil is one of the few on the market that does not have a plastic seal around the lid. Get both these products at Trade Aid, 54 High Street, Picton, or just the sugar at New World, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim.
- Coffee – Wherever possible, we recommend looking out for places that sell whole or ground coffee beans unpackaged, and bringing your own bag and container to fill. For a 100% Fairtrade, organic option, check out Ritual, 10 Maxwell Road, Blenheim who are happy to fill BYO bags/containers with their freshly roasted beans. The coffee roaster CPR Coffee HQ, 18 Wynen Street, Blenheim will also do this for you, or you can do it yourself at the bulk sections in Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton, and New World, 4 Freswick Street, Blenheim.
- Drinking Chocolate/Cocoa – you can find cocoa in bulk at Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
- Beer – we found two spots where you can fill your own rigger with beer on tap in Blenheim: The Bottle-O Redwood, 66 Cleghorn Street, which does standard cheap beers on tap, e.g. Tui, Speights, Lion Red etc. as well as Renaissance (note minimum purchase is 2L); and Wino’s, 49 Grove Road, which has a range of craft beer on tap. FYI that although you can totally use any old upcycled bottle to get the beer in, if you want something fancier (albeit pricier too), Steven’s, 29-35 Alfred Street, Blenheim stocks 2l stainless steel reusable growlers (for getting beer on tap to takeaway).
- Milk – If you would like milk delivered straight to your house in reusable glass bottles (and you put your empty glass bottles out to be taken away by the milk man for sterilisation and refill in an endless cycle of wonderousness) – JUST LIKE THE OLD DAYS!! – then you might be interested in signing up to Milk & More, who now deliver Oaklands Milk to Blenheim using this very system :-O (be aware that they deliver other products that are not in refillable glass, so make sure you specify that you want the glass refill system). If you like goat’s milk, head to Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim, for local goat’s milk in a reusable glass bottle – the idea is that you bring the bottle back to Real Food Grocer for a $2 refund and the company will take the empty bottle back, sterilize and refill it with more goat’s milk – awesome! Otherwise, for a cheaper milk option, you can also get unpackaged milk powder from Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, and BB Foods, 31 Scott Street.
KITCHEN/FOOD PACKAGING ALTERNATIVES
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton (metal); $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton (glass); Portal Jewellery & Design, Shop 1, 1 High Street, Picton (metal); Blue Penguin, 1A Nelson Street, Blenheim (metal); Steven’s, 29-35 Alfred Street, Blenheim (metal); Thomas’s, 54 Market Street, Blenheim (various kinds of metal/plastic bottles); Alyssums, 15 Queen Street, Blenheim (various kinds of metal/plastic bottles); Wairau Pharmacy, 47 Scott Street, Blenheim (metal).
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Marlborough:
- Find the Keep Cup brand at BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim, Steven’s, 29-35 Alfred Street, Blenheim, CPR Coffee HQ, 18 Wynen Street, Blenheim (including Star Wars themed cups…)
- Get the NZ-made Ideal Cup at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton;
- Get the NZ-made Cuppa Coffee Cup at Portal Jewellery & Design, Shop 1, 1 High Street, Picton; Blue Penguin, 1A Nelson Street, Blenheim
- The Oasis Eco Cup (made with a bamboo fibre/plastic composite mix) is sold at
- The Joco brand at BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim
- You can get ceramic or glass reusable takeaway coffee cups at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton, and Cerise, 102 Market Street, Blenheim
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 Rethink 100% organic cotton produce bags at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton, or super affordable 100% cotton produce bags at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton. Benge & Co Green Grocers, 20 Grove Road, Blenheim – stocks reusable (though polyester) produce bags, while BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim stocks zuperzozial washable paper bags. If you’re after reusable shopping bags, at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton you can get locally hand-crafted reusable shopping bags made from upcycled materials (yahoo!) by Plastic Bag Free Picton, or from the $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton you can get no-sew, upcycled t-shirt bags made from non-saleable t-shirts rescued from local op-shops, 100% cotton shopping bags, and also reusable wet bags!
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 $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap – available at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton; $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton; Cafe Cortado, 30 London Quay, Picton; The Honey Collection, 74 Grove Road, Mayfield, Blenheim; Ritual, 10 Maxwell Road, Blenheim; and Wairau Pharmacy, 47 Scott Street, Blenheim (the Munch brand). You can also make your own beeswax wraps! You just need to get natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. Keep an eye out at secondhand stores and fabric stores for off-cuts of cotton, such as places like Sheets and Things, in the Warehouse parking lot outside Crossroads, Blenheim, or The Sewing Store, 29 High Street, Blenheim, where you can find offcuts of quilting fabric. Get unpackaged beeswax at Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim, the Garden Bees‘ stall at the Marlborough Farmers’ Market, 24 Maxwell Road, Blenheim, or from J Bush & Sons Honey, 168 Old Renwick Road, Blenheim.
- Silicone pot/bowlcovers – a good option for storing leftovers in a bowl (other than just putting a plate on top!) or as an alternative to tin foil for roasting (as the covers can withstand temperatures of up to 220 degrees and will also keep hot food warm when transporting). You can buy these at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton; BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim, Thomas’s, 54 Market Street, Blenheim, and Alyssums, 15 Queen Street, Blenheim.
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton, Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim and Steven’s, 29-35 Alfred Street, Blenheim.
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:
- For something more like a traditional synthetic dishcloth sponge, check out the SPRUCE or Wet-it! 100% cotton + cellulose dishcloth sponges (home compostable at the end of their life) which are available at Benge & Co Green Grocers, 20 Grove Road, Blenheim. You can also get an unbranded variety from $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
- Get your hands on beautiful, locally knitted, 100% cotton face cloths that could easily be used as dishcloths from Marlborough Creative Artisans, 35 High Street, Picton.
- You can get the fancy Bianca Lorenne cotton dishcloths at Cerise, 102 Market Street, Blenheim.
- Alternatively, find 100% cotton cloths that can be used as dishcloths at Thomas’s, 54 Market Street, Blenheim and Poswillo’s Pharmacy, 32 Scott Street, Blenheim.
- If you’re after a coarser scrubby, you can get the Safix 100% coconut fibre scouring pads from $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
- Eco Planet laundry powder comesin a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining! You can get it at Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton and PAK’nSAVE Blenheim, Springlands, Blenheim.
- Non-plastic clothes pegs – get your hands on some bamboo clothes pegs or stainless steel pegs from $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
- Stainless steel drying hanger for drying smalls at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
Ingredients for DIY cleaning products
- Baking soda – available unpackaged in bulk bins at Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
- White vinegar – available from bulk dispensers (BYO bottle!) at Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
- Bars of castile soap, which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here) – Anita’s Organic Store, 46B Wynen Street, Blenheim stocks bars of Dr Bronner’s castile soap.
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’ll find the Go Bamboo brand at Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim, and Anita’s Organic Store, 46B Wynen Street, Blenheim. You can get the Humble Brush brand at Picton Healthcare Pharmacy, 6 High Street, Picton, and Wairau Pharmacy, 32 Scott Street, Blenheim; The Eco Brush toothbrushes at Fresh Choice, 100 High Street, Picton; The Toothbrush Project toothbrushes at Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton; or Become the Change bamboo handled toothbrushes from $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton.
Unpackaged Bars of Soap
It’s easy to get soap without packaging in Marlborough. The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap:
- Marlborough Creative Artisans, 35 High Street, Picton (locally-made)
- Anita’s Organic Store, 46B Wynen Street, Blenheim (Ecostore)
- Alyssums, 15 Queen Street, Blenheim – (unpackaged bars of soap of various shapes and sizes)
- BV Gourmet, 2A Park Terrace, Blenheim – (unpackaged olive oil soap cubes)
- Cerise, 102 Market Street, Blenheim – (fancy unpackaged soap bars)
- Marlborough Artisan Market – stalls selling unpackaged bars of felted soap!
Bars for Shampoo/Shaving/Deodorant/Moisturiser (or sustainably packaged alternatives)
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! Or else, look out for brands that are packaged in refillable or home compostable packaging.
- Look out for 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): Wairau Community Pharmacy, 32 Scott Street, Blenheim, Unichem Springlands Pharmacy, 131 Middle Renwick Road, Springlands, Blenheim, and Farmers, 39 Market Street, Blenheim. Picton Healthcare Pharmacy, 6 High Street, Picton also stocks a selection of the Ethique range (we saw body and face soap bars, but you could ask if they could also stock some of the other bars too, like the shampoo, shaving or deodorant bars).
- Local Marlborough company Jeymar Soap & Body makes a variety of bars of soap for various purposes, including body/hand, shaving (+ shaving brush), facial and shampoo bars of soap, which you can buy from Marlborough Creative Artisans, 35 High Street, Picton.
Reusable Menstrual Products
- Cotton Buds – home compostable cotton buds made of bamboo are available at $3 and more store, 23 High Street, Picton and Anita’s Organic Store, 46B Wynen Street, Blenheim.
- Unpackaged Beeswax – beeswax can be useful for making homemade cosmetics such as lip balm. Get it unpackaged from Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim; Garden Bees‘ stall at the Marlborough Farmers’ Market, 24 Maxwell Road, Blenheim; or J Bush & Sons Honey, 168 Old Renwick Road, Blenheim.
- Toilet Paper – Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton stocks rolls of Smart Ass toilet paper (that are individually wrapped in home compostable tissue paper), or Supervalue Renwick, 87 High Street, Renwick stocks Homebrand toilet rolls (individually wrapped in home compostable tissue paper).
- Baking Soda – an essential ingredient in lots of homemade toiletries such as toothpaste and deodorant, as well as just a great general cleaner when teamed up with vinegar. You can get it unpackaged in bulk from Real Food Grocer, 32 Maxwell Road, Blenheim.
- Reusable incontinence underwear – avoid disposable liners and opt for absorbant, reusable underwear, which you can find at Life Pharmacy, 101a Market Street, Blenheim, Poswillos Pharmacy, 47 Scott Street, Blenheim, and Wairau Community Pharmacy, 32 Scott Street, Blenheim.
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 would like to set up your own home compost, worm farm or bokashi system so you can deal with your organic waste at home, the Marlborough District Council has some great info and resources on their websites to help you set a system up. Alternatively, for the people of Picton, if you are struggling to set up your own system, you can bring your scraps to Sustainance, 58 Hampden Street, Picton, and they’ll put it in their compost so long as the scraps have no animal products.
- 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 incredibly precious resources embedded in these items that are not recovered when the waste is dumped in landfill. Rather than throwing you 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 – you might need to ask around to see if any group in Marlborough might feel up to running one!) If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to the E-Waste Collection Facility at the Wither Road Transfer Station in Blenheim to be recycled. There will be a fee (until the Government starts to regulate manufacturers of these products), but it’s a small cost relative to damage these items otherwise cause in landfill.
- Sheets ‘n’ Things, within The Warehouse parking lot, behind Crossroads, Blenheim – rather than biffing it out, you can donate your good quality second hand linen (such as blankets, quilts, sheets, towels, duvets, duvet inners, pillows, and drapes) to this Bread of Life project for on-sale. All money raised goes towards individuals in need in the Blenheim community. 10% of the proceeds are donated to another charity.
- Envirohub Marlborough, 3 Auckland Street, Picton – this environment centre is a new treasure for the Marlborough community, hosting events and providing advice on a wide range of sustainability issues, including waste issues. The centre also places a focus on involving children, young people and families, which is exciting to see. They also stock a variety of items that can help with low-waste living.
- Plastic Bag Free Picton – run by the inimitable anti-plastic stalwart Linda Thompson, Plastic Bag Free Picton campaigns for what it says on the tin, but also produces reusable alternatives to plastic bags which you can get your mitts on around town! The campaign’s FB page is also a great source of tips for waste reduction, both generally and locally.
- Boomerang Bags Marlborough – Boomerang Bags has made its way to Marlborough. This growing movement is a great way of reducing plastic bags around town. Boomerang Bags groups get together to sew reusable bags out of upcycled fabrics, and then leave these at common shopping areas for shoppers to use if they forget their own reusables. The Marlborough team are on the lookout for volunteers to help make the bags. If you would like to help, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.