Zero Waste in Mid and South Canterbury

Zero Waste in Mid and South Canterbury

This guide covers Mid and South Canterbury only. For the rest of the Canterbury region, please click here.

This guide is divided into THREE geographical sections (scroll through to the area you are interested in):

  1. Ashburton District
  2. Timaru District
  3. Mackenzie District

All our regional guides cover as many low-waste options as we could find for:

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Kitchen and food packaging
  • Cleaning products
  • Bathroom products

So scroll down to view each category. At the very end of each district section we also list community groups and supportive networks for low-waste living in the local area, as well as some tips on what to do about tricky waste streams.

Ashburton District

Food options (i.e. stores that offer loose items which you can put, unpackaged, into your own BYO bags/containers)

  • Bin Inn Ashburton, 130 Moore Street – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk/unpackaged (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, legumes, flours, dried fruit and pasta), 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.
  • New Zealand Biograins, 33 West St – providing Ashburton and beyond with organic, locally-grown grains and legumes/pulses for decades. BYO bags/containers to the office and they can fill them up with their flours, grains and peas milled on site. They also have organic apple cider vinegar on tap, just BYO bottles.
  • Fresh Fish Tinwald, 265/269 Moore Street, Tinwald, Ashburton – this store is happy to put pieces of raw fish into BYO containers so you can avoid the plastic wrap. You will just need to explain to staff that they need to pop your container on the scales and press the ‘tare’ or ‘zero’ button before they start putting the fish in so that you don’t have to pay for the weight of your container.
  • Allenton Meat Centre, 96 Harrison Street, Tinwald, Ashburton – this butcher is happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat into BYO containers so you can avoid the plastic wrap.
  • New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street –  as well as the usual pricey (but extensive) bulk bin/pick and mix section, this supermarket sells Trade Aid chocolate, which comes in Econic home compostable packaging.
  • Ashburton Farmers’ Market, corner West and Havelock Streets – there’s nothing like going along to your local market to find packaging-free food. Shopping local is a great way to reduce waste because the food and goods don’t have to travel 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! At the Ashburton Farmers’ Market there are lots of people selling local produce, some is pre-packed, but not all of is! There’s also the wonderful Granny Trish who sells her massive range of totally scrumptious preserves in glass jars which you can return to her when they are empty so that she can sterilise and reuse them! All profits Trish makes go to Ronald McDonald House. At the market you can also find unpackaged loaves of bread by Cafe Time, just BYO bag.

Drink Options

  • 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. You can find loose/unpackaged coffee beans (and a grinder) at Bin Inn Ashburton, 130 Moore Street. You can also get Trade Aid instant coffee at New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, which comes in Econic home compostable packaging.
  • Beer – look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. You can get Speights and DB on tap into your own bottle/rigger at Liquorland Tinwald, 101 Archibald Street, Tinwald. Or else, most liquor stores do ‘swappa crates’ of beer (like Super Liquor, 2/660 East Street in town and 11/35 Racecourse Road in Allenton) – 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

Shout out to Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street – a beautiful and amazing store that has all the reusable products you’ll ever need to avoid disposable ones (in fact, Weebodz is the most well-stocked shop we’ve seen in the entire country for low-waste living goodies – the owner has clearly done her homework!). You’ll see them appear several times here as they are just about a one stop shop for low waste products.

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 Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street (the Oasis Eco Cup made with a bamboo fibre/plastic composite mix), and Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street (glass); get reusable metal water bottles at Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street, and several different brands at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street.

Reusable lunch boxes/containers

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. Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street stocks Meals in Steel stainless steel lunchboxes, Planet Box stainless steel lunch boxes, and various plastic lunch/bento boxes.

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 get yourself reusables at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Stree, which sells lunch tote bags, Rethink 100% organic cotton produce, bulk bin and string bags, several repurposed produce bags and lots of other food-themed cotton bags; and New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, which stocks Rethink produce bags.

Reusable straws

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 Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street (including one with a spoon on one end!), Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, and Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 105 Tancred Street.

Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil

  • Reusable sandwich bags – Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, stocks the MunchGinger Pye and Keep Leaf brands.
  • Beeswax wrap – find at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street (Honeywrap and Bee Wrapt brands), and Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street (the Bee Wrapt brand). 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. Annie’s Country Quilt Store167 Archibald Street, and Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 105 Tancred Street are both great spots to get offcuts/discounted cotton fabric with pretty patterns. You can get Tiny Farm unpackaged beeswax at Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 105 Tancred Street
  • Silicone pot/bowl covers – 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. Find at Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, or Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street.

Low-waste dishwashing

You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, and Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St (although, they don’t yet stock the replaceable heads here). 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 Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, stocks the Budget brand 100% cotton dishcloth.

Cleaning products

  • Bin Inn Ashburton, 130 Moore Street – stocks a wide range of both liquid and powdered cleaning products/ingredients you can fill your own bottles and containers with.
  • Health 2000, 188 Tancred St – stocks bars of Dr Bronner’s castille soap which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here).
  • New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!)

Bathroom products

  • Low Waste Dental Care – Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (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 Wises Pharmacy, 155 Wills Street and Life Pharmacy, 262 East Street, Ashburton. The activated charcoal-infused Grin toothbrushes are stocked at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street (who also stocks the Go Bamboo and Do Gooder brand), and New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street (although the New World ones have an annoying and unnecessary plastic tag on them, so try and buy your bamboo toothbrush from somewhere else!). What about dental floss? Weebodz has got you covered as they stock Do Gooder’s 100% silk, home compostable dental floss in a refillable glass and metal dispenser (they stock the refill rolls too, so you can refill your dispenser when you need).
  • Unpackaged bars of Soap – find at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, and Unique Boutique, 105 Tancred Street.
  • 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 Life Pharmacy, 262 East Street, Ashburton (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging). Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, also stocks a wide range of soap bars by other brands, including Jeymar and Global Soap
  • Menstrual Cups/Washable Pads – these are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. You can buy menstrual cups and washable pads at Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, and menstrual cups at New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street.
  • Washable cotton nappies – no need to explain this one. Get them from Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, and Unique Boutique, 105 Tancred Street.
  • Other – Weebodz, 106B Victoria Street, being the amazing store it is, stocks many other useful waste-busting bathroom products, including shaving brushes (and looking to stock reusable razors), Greencane toilet paper, which is wrapped in home-compostable packaging, Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds and Bee Fresh deodorant packaged in home compostable cardboard only.

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 not sure where to start, you could ask a neighbour or friend to help you set up a compost, or you might want to purchase a worm bin or bokashi from the Re-Use Shop at the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park. You can also visit Ashburton Wastebusters, which provides heaps of information on setting up a home composting or worm farming system. The waste educator Eco Educate also runs composting workshops at the Education Centre at the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park, so keep an eye out if you’d like to attend a hands-on session. Also, if you’re a cafe with heaps of used coffee grounds at the end of the day, did you know that you can take them to Ashburton Wastebusters for composting rather than throwing them to landfill?
  • 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 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 – 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 the Ashburton Resource Recovery Park for recycling and safe disposal (a small fee may be payable for the processing of the electronics for recycling).
  • On Farm Recycling – if you’re a farmer/live in a rural area and have no pick-up for your recycling, did you know that Ashburton Wastebusters can pick up your recycling for you so that you don’t have to deal with it on site? Get in touch with them to learn more about the system and how it works.
  • Back to Basics Expo – an annual event in Ashburton that should definitely be in your calendar! A jam-packed day full of workshops run by local experts passing on essential resourcefulness and resilience skills for “natural savvy living”. Many of these skills are super useful for low-waste living – be it preserving, sewing, mending, or DIY cleaning products and toiletries. The expo also features many locals who supply the materials needed for the natural, savvy, low-waste lifestyle.
  • Mid-Canterbury Timebank – Mid-Canterbury has it’s very own timebank, which is great news because timebanking is one excellent way to reduce waste on a budget – allowing the exchange of skills and services with time credits rather than money. Through being part of a timebank you can harness the skills of creating and repairing in your community, or have someone pass these skills on to you – whether it’s gardening, sewing, mending, building, computer and electronics maintenance – the list goes on! Well worth checking out and signing up!
  • Ashburton Wastebusters – one of the oldest community recycling centres in the country, still a hub for waste education and recycling. Look out for their educational awareness evenings about waste, or invite wastebusters to come and speak to your local group or school. Also drop in to have a dig around their Reuse Shop for treasures others may have thrown away, but which may be highly useful/valuable to you! Wastebusters also accepts a wide range of items for recycling that may not be accepted elsewhere in town, including toothpaste tubes and polystyrene, and is a drop-off point for the Terracycle and Soft Plastics Recycling Schemes. If you’ve got greenwaste, dropping it off at Wastebusters is a great idea – it’s cheap and the greenwaste will be diverted from landfill.
  • Eco Educate – run by Lesley Ottey, Eco Educate is a force of waste minimisation education in both Waimakariri and more recently in Ashburton. Eco Educate runs workshops in schools and in communities on a wide range of waste reducing topics, from composting, gardening, recycling, and rethinking waste. You may have also heard about Lesley’s toy rescue progamme, which is quite amazing! Get in touch if you are based in Ashburton and would like to have Lesley run a workshop for you or your local school.
  • 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!
  • 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.

Timaru District (includes Geraldine, Temuka and more)

Food options (i.e. stores that offer loose items which you can put, unpackaged, into your own BYO bags/containers)

  • The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson St, Geraldine – although everything in the shop on the shelves is pre-packaged, you can get just about everything in store that you see on the shelves packed into your own bags and containers from the bulk store out back – in fact, the owner really encourages this! So just go up to the counter with your own bags and containers and ask 🙂 The store stocks a huge range of dried food and pantry staples like flours, nuts, seeds, baking mix, cocoa powder, cacao butter, sugars, bread mix, herbs and spices, grains, yeast flakes, muesli cereals and oats, powdered stocks, nougat, dried fruit, legumes, rice, sweets, chocolates, and more (even edible insects…)! Some of these wholefoods are organic and gluten-free. You can also get refills of vanilla essence and coconut oil into your own bottles/jars.
  • Geraldine Butchery, 6 Wilson Street, Geraldine – this butcher is more than happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat into BYO containers.
  • Geraldine Fish Supply, 8 Wilson Street, Geraldine – get unpackaged seafood put into BYO containers.
  • Geraldine Orchard Farmshop, 56 Main North Road – sells (expensive) nuts, seeds and dried fruit unpackaged in bulk bins and medjool dates. Lots of unpackaged produce.
  • FreshChoice Geraldine, 7 Peel St, Geraldine – this supermarket has only a tiny bulk bin section with sweets, nuts, dried fruit and snacks, and the store sells some unpackaged bread and bakery goods (BYO bags). You could try you luck with BYO containers at the deli. This supermarket is a Trade Aid stockist, and stocks Trade Aid‘s 2kg bags of sugar (a sturdy, non-plastic lined brown paper bag that is great for upcycling as a bulk bin bag and, once it wears down, can be home composted). Despite being a Trade Aid stockist, the supermarket doesn’t stock Trade Aid‘s chocolate range – it’d be worth asking them if they can because all of Trade Aid’s chocolate bars come in Econic home compostable packaging!
  • Pleasant Point Butchery, Main Rd, Pleasant Point – BYO container to this butchery to get fresh cuts of meat without the disposable plastic.
  • New World Temuka, 185 King St, Temuka – has the usual expensive bulk section selling snacks, nuts, dried fruit, seeds etc., and sells some unpackaged bakery food (BYO bag)
  • Main Street Butchery110 King St, Temuka – get unpackaged cuts of meat put into your own containers.
  • Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru – an excellent organic store with passionate owners stocking a wide range of wholefoods in bulk bins (just BYO bag), including flours, grains, sugar, dried fruit, beans/legumes, nuts, spices, and condiments. In the fridge they also sell Moa Bakery vegan sweets unpackaged- yay! And a variety of organic produce. The store is currently expanding to include a cafe next door so the range of wholefoods you can buy in bulk is likely to increase even more – watch this space…
  • Bin Inn Timaru, 18 Dee Street, Timaru – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk/unpackaged (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, legumes, flours, dried fruit, sundried tomatoes and pasta), a range of spices, sweets, treats and snacks, and liquid foods like vinegars, oils, 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.
  • Burgers Butchery, 305 Church Street, West End, Timaru – this butcher is more than happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat into BYO containers. If you forget your container, they will wrap only in home compostable brown paper if you ask.
  • Trade Aid Timaru, 251 Stafford Street, Timaru – Trade Aid‘s entire chocolate range comes in Econic home compostable packaging! Their 2kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home compostable also. Trade Aid’s coconut oil is one of the few on the market that does not have a plastic seal around the lid.
  • Pak’n Save, Evans Street, Timaru – stocks Trade Aid 2kg bags of sugar (comes in purely brown paper bags that are great to upcycle as a bulk bin bag and when they eventually wear down, can be home composted), Ceres’ Raw Goodness bars (wrapped in Econic home compostable packaging), and unpackaged loaves of bread + bakery goods (just BYO bag)
  • New World Timaru, 145 Wai-iti Road, Highfield, Timaru – stocks unpackaged fresh herbs in bulk bins in chiller (parsley, rosemary, coriander, chives, mint) – just BYO bags, Trade Aid 2kg bags of sugar (comes in purely brown paper bags that are great to upcycle as a bulk bin bag and when they eventually wear down, can be home composted), and some unpackaged loaves of bread and bakery goods (BYO bag).
  • ECHT Genuine Sourdough Bread, Timaru – keen for some AMAZING locally-made sourdough bread? Look no further than the loaves of Silke Schlusnus, the wonder-human behind ECHT. Simply order by Tuesday evening for bread that will be ready to pick-up by Thursday from 9 Chaucer Street, Timaru. Make sure you let Silke know that you would like your bread to be kept unpackaged (which will be totally fine!) Check out the ECHT website or Facebook for more information about the ordering/pick-up process.
  • U Bake Bakery, 188 Hilton Highway, Washdyke, Timaru – stocks unpackaged loaves of bread + baked goods (just BYO bag)
  • Bernie’s Bakery HQ, 187 Hilton Highway, Washdyke, Timaru – stocks unpackaged loaves of bread + baked goods (just BYO bag)
  • Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru – stocks bars of Loving Earth chocolate (which come in home compostable packaging).
  • Sunnybrae Farm, Timaru Road (SH 82), just north of Waimate town – either you can buy produce from the stall, or you can order one of Sunnybrae’s vege boxes to be delivered. Supposedly these are lightly packaged, but you can probably ask to have no packaging.
  • Cafe on Queen, 25 Queen Street, Waimate – stocks some unpackaged bread and bakery goods, BYO bag.
  • New World Waimate, 95 Queen Street, Waimate – has the usual rather expensive bulk aisle. Also stocks some unpackaged bread buns + bakery goods (BYO bag)
  • Farmers’ Markets – 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! Some farmers’ markets to check out in the region are Geraldine Farmers’ Market, outside St Mary’s Church on Talbot Street, 9am to 12.30pm, and Timaru Farmers’ Market, 27 Strathallan Street (The Community House car park)

 Drink options

  • Milk – In Geraldine you can get milk powder put into your own bag/container at The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine, from which you can make up your own milk at home. If you’re close to Timaru then you’re in luck because you can get raw milk in reusable glass bottles from a vending machine at Real Milk Timaru, 22 Fairview Road, Timaru – just buy a glass bottle the first time you go, and from then on you can use the same glass bottle at the vending machine every time you go to get milk 😀 If you’re into non-dairy milk and want to avoid non-recyclable TetraPaks, check out Vigour & Vitality Mylk, which comes in a glass jar – it’s a butter which you add to water to make into non-dairy milk. There are many different options available, from coconut through to hemp and a special barista blend. You can buy these at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru.
  • 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 Timaru you can get unpackaged coffee put into BYO bags/containers at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru; Coffee Culture Timaru, 306 Stafford Street, Timaru; JB’s Cafe at Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru; and Bin Inn Timaru, 18 Dee Street, Timaru. If you prefer instant coffee, we recommend getting Trade Aid’s variety as it comes in Econic home-compostable packaging. You can find this at Trade Aid Timaru, 251 Stafford Street, Timaru. In Geraldine, FreshChoice is a Trade Aid stockist, but doesn’t seem to stock the Instant Coffee – so perhaps ask if they could, seeing as they already have an account with Trade Aid!
  • Tea – most tea bags have plastic in them, so we encourage people to drink loose leaf teas. We’re always on the lookout for loose leaf teas that you can get unpackaged. Usually this is not very easy in New Zealand. However, you can take your own bags/containers to fill up with a wide range of loose leaf teas at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru.
  • Beer – look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. We saw beer on tap at Super Liquor, 41 Talbot Street, Geraldine; Temuka Liquor Centre, 141 King Street, Temuka; Thirsty Liquor, 50 King Street, Temuka, Ship Hop Brewing, 7 Strathallan Street, Timaru (craft beer); Liquorland Timaru, 22 Dee Street, Timaru (craft beer); Henry’s (near New World), Wai-iti Road, Highfield, Timaru; The Bottle-O Timaru, 118 Le Cren Street, Timaru; Masonic Hotel Bar, 42 Waimate Highway, St Andrews, Timaru (the bar has an off-license, so whatever beer is on tap at the bar is available to go straight in a rigger); and Royal Tavern Liquor Centre, 30 Shearman Street, Waimate. 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).
  • Drinking Chocolate – you can get cocoa powder into your own bags/containers at The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine.

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 The Kitchen Cupboard, 34b Talbot Street, Geraldine (they stock Cuppa Coffee Cup and Zuperzozial brands, as well as porcelain reusable takeaway coffee cups); Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru (Keep Cup brand); and Coffee Culture Timaru, 306 Stafford Street, Timaru (Keep Cup and Frank Green brands). You can get reusable water bottles at The Kitchen Cupboard, 34b Talbot Street, Geraldine (metal); Kiwiana, 88 Stafford Street, Timaru (metal); and Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru (glass).

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 get reusables across the district: get a “sew your own boomerang bag kit” for $2 from Joosh, 14 Talbot Street, Geraldine; find Rethink 100% organic cotton produce and string bags at New World Timaru, 145 Wai-iti Road, Highfield, Timaru; Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru, stocks reusable string and produce bags; and Waimate Berries, 88 Timaru Road, Makikihi is currently stocking reusable produce bags as part of a Makikihi School fundraiser.

Reusable straws

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 The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine.

Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil

  • Reusable sandwich bags – find the Munch brand reusable sandwich wraps at KidStuff Timaru, 170 Stafford Street, Timaru and Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru.
  • Beeswax wrap – find at The Kitchen Cupboard, 34b Talbot Street, Geraldine; Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru (the Bee Covered brand); Health 2000 Timaru, 289 Stafford Street, Timaru (the Bee Covered brand); and KidsStuff Timaru, 170 Stafford Street, Timaru (the Munch brand). 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. The Pin Tin, 9 Talbot Street, Geraldine or Timaru Sewing Centre, 158 Stafford Street, Timaru are both great spots to get offcuts/discounted cotton fabric with pretty patterns. You can get unpackaged beeswax at The Healthy Kiwi Health & Lifestyle Shop, 157 Stafford Street, Timaru.
  • Silicone pot/bowl covers – 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. Find at The Kitchen Cupboard, 34b Talbot Street, Geraldine; Just One Wish Gifts, 76E Talbot Street, Geraldine; Ballentynes Timaru, 314 Stafford Street, Timaru; and @cquisitions Timaru, 238 Stafford Street, Timaru.

Low-waste dishwashing

You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru. We also encourage people to use natural fibre dishcloths rather than 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). You can get hand-knitted cotton dishcloths at The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine, through Aoraki Naturals in Timaru (order online and arrange to have your purchase left for you in a convenient locker box in town, just make sure to ask for your dishcloth to be left in the box unpackaged), and Makikihi Country Crafts Shop. If you’re after organic cotton dishcloths, you can get these at The Kitchen Cupboard, 34b Talbot Street, Geraldine (the Full Circle brand). If you’d like to knit or crochet your own dishcloth, you can get organic cotton from Timaru Sewing Centre, 158 Stafford Street, Timaru. Otherwise, Four Square Pleasant Point, 93 Main Road, Pleasant Point, New World Temuka, 185 King Street, Temuka, Pak ‘n Save Timaru, Evans Street, Timaru, New World Timaru, 145 Wai-iti Road, Highfield, Timaru, and New World Waimate, 95 Queen Street, Waimate, all stock the Budget brand 100% cotton dishcloth.

Cleaning products

  • FreshChoice Geraldine7 Peel St, Geraldine – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!)
  • Joosh, 14 Talbot Street, Geraldine – stocks That Red House Soapberries which are packaged in a cotton bag with only a brown paper bag (no plastic) on the inside.
  • The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine – stocks baking soda and Epsom salts in bulk.
  • Aoraki Naturals, Timaru – a gorgeous Timaru-based business making (among other things) 100% natural household cleaning products, such as dishwashing and laundry soap bars. Check out their website for their wide range of products that are lightly packaged, if at all. If you’re local you can arrange a pick-up of your purchase from one of Aoraki Natural’s convenient locker boxes (to save on shipping packaging) and make sure to ask for your goodies to be as unpackaged as possible.
  • Pak ‘n Save Timaru, Evans Street, Timaru – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!)
  • Health 2000, 289 Stafford Street, and Bin Inn Timaru, 18 Dee Street, Timaru – both stores 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).
  • New World Waimate, 95 Queen Street, Waimate – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!)

Bathroom products

  • Low Waste Dental Care – Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (bristles are still plastic and need to be removed from the handle and put in the rubbish bin). You can get the Humble Brush brand at The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street in Geraldine, Temuka Pharmacy, 81 King St in Temuka, in Timaru at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Unichem Timaru Pharmacy278 Stafford St, and Moyle’s Pharmacy6 Dee St. The activated charcoal-infused Grin toothbrushes are stocked at Joosh, 14 Talbot Street, Geraldine (although these are combined with a mini toothpaste tube, so ask if you can have just the toothbrush). And Go Bamboo toothbrushes can be bought at FreshChoice Geraldine7 Peel St, Geraldine, and at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, and New World Timaru, 145 Wai-iti Road, Highfield in Timaru. 
  • Unpackaged bars of Soap – Find these in Geraldine at Geraldine Orchard Farmshop, 56 Main North Road, Just One Wish Gifts, 76E Talbot Street, and Country Rumours, 5 Talbot St; in Timaru at Northtown Nutrition, 98 Evans St, Waimataitai, Kiwinana, 10 Church Street (the Dunedin-based Inga Ford variety), and Bin Inn Timaru, 18 Dee Street; and Makikihi Country Crafts Shop.
  • 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 the Geraldine Pharmacy24 Talbot St, Geraldine, and at any Farmers store in the country, e.g. at 256-260 Stafford Street, Timaru (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging). Another option for skin/body/hair care in bar from is the amazing Aoraki Naturalsa gorgeous Timaru-based business making body care, skin care and household cleaning products. Check out their website for their wide range of bathroom products from soap/shampoo bars, to products in glass pottles that can be refilled, such as deodorant, balms, butters and oils! If you’re local you can arrange a pick-up of your purchase from one of Aoraki Natural’s convenient locker boxes (to save on shipping packaging) and make sure to ask for your goodies to be as unpackaged as possible.
  • Menstrual Cups/Washable Pads – these are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. You can buy menstrual cups and washable pads at The Cottage Pantry, 24 Wilson Street, Geraldine, and Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru. Many places stock just menstrual cups: FreshChoice Geraldine7 Peel St, and Geraldine Pharmacy, 24 Talbot St in Geraldine; New World Temuka, 185 King Street, and Temuka Pharmacy, 81 King St in Temuka; and Health 2000, 289 Stafford Street, and New World Timaru, 145 Wai-iti Road, Highfield in Timaru.
  • 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. You can buy razors, replacement blades and shaving brushes from Cutting Edge Barbers, 201 Stafford Street, Timaru, and razors and blades from Murray’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon, 114 Church Street, Timaru.
  • Toilet Paper – there are two brands we know of that package their toilet paper in home-compostable packaging – Smart Ass and Greencane. You can buy Smart Ass at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru. Otherwise, both Smart Ass and Greencane toilet paper can be ordered online for delivery.
  • Other – you’ll find Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds at Amore Wholefoods, 1 Sarah Street, Timaru. If you’re looking for (unpackaged) beeswax or essential oils (which can be refilled) for DIY homemade cosmetics and toiletries, head to The Healthy Kiwi Health & Lifestyle Shop, 157 Stafford Street, Timaru. There are also several pharmacies that stock washable incontinence underwearAshbury Pharmacy, 98 Evans St, Waimataitai, Moyle’s Pharmacy6 Dee St, and Unichem Highfield Mall Pharmacy45 Wai-Iti Rd, Highfield in Timaru; and Waimate Pharmacy, 58 Queen St, Waimate.

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! In Timaru District you are very lucky that your council collects food scraps/organic waste in a green bin system and composts it at the Redruth Resource Recovery Park, meaning it’s all diverted from landfill – so there’s no reason for any food scraps to go in the rubbish bin. However, you may still be interested in composting your food scraps/organic waste at home (as then you get to retain the amazing resource it produces – compost – for your home garden). If you haven’t yet got a system for composting and are not sure where to start, you could ask a neighbour or friend to help you set up a compost, or you could purchase a worm farm or bokashi.
  • 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 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 – 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 your local transfer station (Pleasant Point, Geraldine or Temuka) or to Redruth Resource Recovery Park in Timaru for recycling and safe disposal (you will need to pay a small fee for the processing of the electronics for recycling).
  • The Crow’s Nest, Redruth Street, Timaru – Hands-down one of the most beautiful re-use shops in the country, and a stellar place to find secondhand items rather than buying them new. If you’re undertaking a craft, building or home maker project and need some wood off-cuts, scrap metal, bolts, nuts, sinks, or other building equipment, come to The Crow’s Nest first, rather than buying new, you’ll be amazed at what you can find. You’ll also find a huge range of furniture, kitchen appliances and utensils, as well as other vital knick-knacks.
  • Community Gardening – the skill of growing your own food is great for low-waste living because it enables you to get free, nutritious (and potentially organic, depending on how you do it) food without packaging! Because compost is so vital for thriving plants, learning to grow food is also a window into effective ways of managing food scraps at home and in communities. If you’re keen to be involved with a local community garden, you could check out the Geraldine Community Food Garden, Talbot Street, Geraldine (contact Tim Rimmer 0212044951), or The Community Crop, a wonderful organisation in Timaru that is developing community gardens around town that anyone is welcome to become involved with and to help develop. If you are interested in attending a working bee and/or learning through doing (and thereby building this incredible community resource), then do get in touch with The Community Crop!
  • Incredible Edible Geraldine – Food growing from the ground is unpackaged and naturally zero waste – so we’re always on the prowl for living fruit, herbs and veg. So we were very excited to discover the amazing project that is Incredible Edible Geraldine, which makes it possible to find heaps of food just growing around the streets of town! Check Incredible Edible’s website for an explanation of this amazing public food growing project, as well as a map for where to find the yummies, unpackaged, all around town!
  • Sustainable South Canterbury Trust (SSCT) – In existence since 2002, SSCT is a group of volunteer trustees working on a variety of sustainability issues in Timaru, including waste reduction (SSCT runs The Crow’s Nest, for example). SSCT is currently raising funds to set up an EcoCentre in Timaru, which will greatly increase the scope of their work in the community. EcoCentres are a great place to run workshops, events and information sessions about all kinds of sustainability issues, but also waste minimisation. For example, SSCT is planning to run a community garden at the EcoCentre, where people can come and learn skills for growing their own food and composting. If you’re interested in helping out or sharing your skills in the development of the EcoCentre and SSCT’s work, they’re always looking for volunteers, so get in touch!
  • Sustainable Living Education Trust – an excellent online resource that offers resources (specifically, Future Living Skills Learning Guides) on a variety of sustainable living topics and yes, you guessed it, one of them is on waste minimisation – yay! The Learning Guides are packed full of incredibly useful information, so are well worth a look. However, they’re only available to residents of areas where the local council has signed up for membership. Luckily, Timaru District Council is one of those councils, so you can browse the page and check the resource out for free – score!
  • Transition Timaru – the Transition Town movement is an international grassroots movement to build community self-sufficiency to overcome challenges of peak oil, climate change and economic instability. There are Transition Town groups across New Zealand and there’s one in Timaru! As moving beyond wastefulness is a key element of becoming more self-sufficient, Transition Timaru shares lots of information about low-waste living. It also works with other groups around town who are working towards change that can help Timaru to be more resilient, resourceful and less wasteful. Transition Timaru also runs and hosts intermittent workshops on things like composting, and has its finger on the pulse of relevant events happening around town, so it’s well worth following the Transition Timaru Facebook page to keep you up to date!
  • 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 also create bespoke items for community and charitable purposes. Definitely look up your local, and if you’re in Timaru, note that there are plans afoot to set up a Menzshed soon!
  • 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.
  • Boomerang Bags Geraldine & Boomerang Bags Timaru – Originally from Australia, Boomerang Bags is a growing movement across NZ and 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 borrow, use and return if they forget their own reusables. Geraldine has an awesome Boomerang Bags group and you can find these bags in stands all around town – so keep your eyes peeled, especially if you’ve forgotten your reusable bag. There’s also a Boomerang Bags group in Timaru! If you’d like to help make bags, get in touch as volunteers are always welcome. It’s a great way to learn about sewing too (if you don’t know already) or to share this skill and pass it on to others, if you’re already a pro 😉

MacKenzie District

Food options (i.e. stores that offer loose items which you can put, unpackaged, into your own BYO bags/containers)

  • Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie – a hidden gem for low waste pantry staples in Fairlie. Stocks bulk dried fruit, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and apple cider vinegar on tap. If you’d like anything else that you see pre-packed on the shelves that aren’t in jars or bulk bins (like the spices), simply ask at the counter if you could have these put in your BYO bags/containers out back. The owners are happy to order in anything else that you’d like to see offered in bulk – all you need to do is ask! While you’re there, do try some of their cafe food too, especially the BGS (bloody good slice!) – dairy, gluten, egg, sugar, nut and soy free!
  • Fairlie Four Square, Main Street, Fairlie – sells some unpackaged bakery goods, and a few loose nuts, snacks, dried fruit and sweets in bulk bins.
  • Fairlie Bakehouse, 72 Main Street, Fairlie – sells unpackaged loaves of bread (just BYO bag).
  • Run 76, Tekapo-Twizel Rd, Lake Tekapo – sells unpackaged loaves of bread (just BYO bag).
  • Tekapo Four Square, 22 Rapuwai Lane, Tekapo-Twizel Road (SH8), Lake Tekapo – sells unpackaged bread, and some loose sweets, seeds, nuts and snacks in bulk.
  • Mackenzie Foursquare, 27 Market Place, Twizel – sells some unpackaged bakery goods (it might be worth asking the bakers if they would consider not packing the other stuff), and a few loose seeds, nuts, sweets and snacks in bulk.
  • Twizel Four Square, 20 Market Place, Twizel – stocks a few loose sweets and snacks in bulk.

 Drink options

  • 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. You do this at Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie, just ask at the counter!
  • Tea – most tea bags have plastic in them, so we encourage people to drink loose leaf teas. We’re always on the lookout for loose leaf teas that you can get unpackaged. Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie orders loose leaf teas in bulk. These are mostly pre-packaged on the shelves, but if you ask nicely at the counter you can have BYO bags and containers topped up with fresh loose leaf teas from their not yet packaged bulk supply.
  • Beer – usually we recommend people look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any places in MacKenzie District that do this. However, 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). You should be able to find these at Fairlie Thirsty Liquor69 Main St, Fairlie, Tekapo Thirsty Liquor, Main Rd, Lake Tekapo, and Super Liquor, 13 Tasman Rd, Twizel.

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 Matilda & the Metalman, 76 Main St, Fairlie, Run 76, Tekapo-Twizel Rd, Lake Tekapo, and Shawty’s Cafe, 4a Market Place, Twizel (all sell the Keep Cup brand); The Aoraki/Mt Cook Hermitage Hotel shop, 89 Terrace Rd, Mount Cook National Park (Express Cup design); and Mackenzie Lotto Plus, 9 Market Place, Twizel (stocks the Cuppa Coffee Cup brand). Get reusable stainless steel water bottles at just about any Gift Shop in Tekapo, The Aoraki/Mt Cook Hermitage Hotel shop, 89 Terrace Rd, Mount Cook National Park, The Musterer’s Hut, 20 Ruataniwha Road, Twizel, Mackenzie Lotto Plus, 9 Market Place, Twizel (glass and metal), and Jake’s Hardware, 24 Market Place, Twizel (metal, glass and plastic).

Reusable lunch boxes/containers

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. Southern Alps Outdoors, 8 Market Place, Twizel, stocks metal pots/containers which could be used as a lunchbox.

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. Keep an eye our fot the MacKenzie Community Development Project‘s ‘Borrow Bags’ intiative to hit the district soon!

Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil

  • Beeswax wrap – find at Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie (the Bee Covered brand, your most local option!), Matilda & the Metalman, 76 Main St, Fairlie (Honeywrap brand), and JR’s General Store, 71 Main St, Fairlie (the Bee Wrapt brand which is unfortunately 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. The Musterer’s Hut, 20 Ruataniwha Road, Twizel, sells ‘fat quarters’ cotton fabric with pretty patterns.
  • Silicone pot/bowl covers – 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. You’ll find small ones at Mackenzie Lotto Plus, 9 Market Place, Twizel.

Low-waste dishwashing

You can find two kinds of dishbrushes at JR’s General Store, 71 Main St, Fairlie – the Dishy brand with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads, and a home compostable veggie brush (made from coconut fibre) which could also be used as dish scrubber. We also encourage people to use natural fibre dishcloths rather than 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). You’ll find Wet It 100% cotton/cellulose dishcloths at JR’s General Store, 71 Main St, Fairlie, and the similar Kuitukuu design at Mackenzie Lotto Plus, 9 Market Place, Twizel, where you can also get hand-knitted cotton dishcloths. Otherwise, Tekapo Four Square, 22 Rapuwai Lane, Tekapo-Twizel Road (SH8), Lake Tekapo, Twizel Four Square, 20 Market Place, Twizel, and Mackenzie Foursquare, 27 Market Place, Twizel, all stock the Budget brand 100% cotton dishcloth.

Bathroom products

  • Low Waste Dental Care – Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (bristles are still plastic and need to be removed from the handle and put in the rubbish bin). You can get the Humble Brush brand at MacKenzie Pharmacy, 6/7 Market Place, Twizel. Go Bamboo toothbrushes can be bought at Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie, and Mackenzie Foursquare, 27 Market Place, Twizel
  • Unpackaged bars of Soap – you can buy locally made unpackaged bars of soap by Bramblewood Homestead from Soulfood Organics & Cafe, 49 Mount Cook Road, Fairlie, while other varieties can be bought at Three Creeks, 2119 State Highway 8, Burkes Pass, and Mackenzie Lotto Plus, 9 Market Place, Twizel.

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 composting and are not sure where to start, you may be able to put your food scraps into a compost that already exists in your community. For example, in Twizel, get in contact with Jane Foley who runs the community garden because as long as you ask first, you can put your household food scraps in the community garden compost bin. Or else, you could ask a neighbour or friend to help you set up a compost, or keep your eye out for composting workshops happening in your area – Jane Foley is often running them, hosted by local community groups and community centres. Or you could purchase an earthmaker or bokashi bin at a heavily subsidised rate from the Mackenzie District Council.
  • 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 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 – perhaps ask if a centre near you might be interested in running a session, such as Heartlands Fairlie Resource Centre or Twizel Community Care Centre). If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to your local resource and recovery park for recycling and safe disposal (many items are free to recycle, a few attract a small fee – check the council website for more info).
  • Waste-free parenting resources – Mackenzie District Council subsidises cloth nappy/waste-free parenting packs, so you can buy a pack, worth $100 for only $20 – woah! The packs contain 2 different styles of modern cloth nappies, a set of kai carriers, beeswax reusable food wraps plus other samples and goodies and The Nappy Lady’s information booklet. Yay! To find out more about getting your hands on one of these, click here.
  • Sustainable Living Education Trust – an excellent online resource that offers resources (specifically, Future Living Skills Learning Guides) on a variety of sustainable living topics and yes, you guessed it, one of them is on waste minimisation – yay! The Learning Guides are packed full of incredibly useful information, so are well worth a look. However, they’re only available to residents of areas where the local council has signed up for membership. Luckily, Mackenzie District Council is one of those councils, so you can browse the page and check the resource out for free – score!
  • Twizel Community Garden – 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. Twizel has a great community garden, run by the totally inspirational and hugely knowledgeable Jane Foley. Community gardens are always looking for volunteers to help out and come along to working bees (and Twizel is no exception!), 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, getting involved with your local community garden is a great thing to do!
  • Incredible Edible Fairlie – Food growing from the ground is unpackaged and naturally zero waste – so we’re always on the prowl for living fruit, herbs and veg. So we were excited to see that Incredible Edible Geraldine has spread to Fairlie, making it possible to find heaps of unpackaged fruit, herbs and veges just growing around the streets of town! Check Incredible Edible’s website for an explanation of this amazing public food growing project, as well as a map for where to find the yummies, unpackaged, all around town!
  • Heartlands Fairlie Resource Centre, 67 Main Street, Fairlie – If you live in Fairlie you will know how lucky you are to have Heartlands Resource Centre in the middle of town, run by the inimitable and visionary Anne Thomson. Anne has created a community hub that harnesses the powers and skills of the people of Fairlie, and spreads people’s talents and resources across the community in exciting and creative ways. Lots of Heartlands’ projects help to reduce waste, whether through building up people’s resourcefulness and resilience to make and do more in their own homes, or through creative upcycling and recycling initiatives. Out the front of Heartlands there is space for anyone to bring excess produce/food they have from their own gardens at home, and anyone is welcome to take what’s there, for free! This is a great way of reducing food waste and allowing people to access free and unpackaged fresh fruit and vege. If you have scrap fabric or would like some fabric for your sewing projects, Heartlands collects these from locals, so don’t chuck out your scraps and don’t feel like you have to buy new, you may find just what you need at Heartlands! Heartlands also runs Recycle at your Gate (the idea is that by 9am on set dates each year – make sure you check when! – you put out at your gate any items you no longer want (not actual rubbish though!) and throughout the day anyone can check out your wares and take anything they might like away with them. Anything that’s still outside your gate at 4pm needs to be brought back into your house, but you may find that the pile is much smaller than it was in the morning…) and Cinderella Shoes (bring to Heartlands any shoes you no longer wear – in good condition – to be resold to a new owner at the Cinderella Shoes Market outside Heartlands – funds raised go to community projects!) Keep your eyes out for more waste reducing community initiatives because Heartlands is always doing new projects. For example, we’ve heard through the grapevine that there may be a reusable bag sewing group starting up soon to help reduce plastic bag usage in Fairlie…
  • Mackenzie Community Development Project – an amazing project that runs in both Fairlie and Twizel. The project has both social and environmental elements, including waste reduction work, and the two project leaders – Kylie (in Fairlie) and Tanya (in Twizel) are amazing and always keen to hear your project ideas! At the moment the Mackenzie Community Development Project is behind the campaign to get rid of plastic straws in Mackenzie! So if you’d like to support this worthwhile initiative, make sure you refuse a straw for your drink next time you’re in town 🙂
  • Fairlie Golden Girls Secondhand Market – every Saturday throughout Spring and Summer in Fairlie, you can check out the Secondhand Market, which resells secondhand items gifted by the local community. All the funds raised go back into community projects. If you have items you no longer want that are still in good condition, rather than throwing them out, take them to Heartlands Fairlie Resource Centre for resale at the secondhand market. Likewise, if you are looking for a particular gadget or gizmo, see if you can find it at the secondhand market first, before buying it new! You may be able to re-home a lovely item 🙂
  • Twizel Community Care Trust – an excellent group dedicated to improving the wellbeing of the people of Twizel. The trust runs services through the Twizel Community Care Centre on Mount Cook Street and would surely be open to any ideas you might have for community waste minimisation initiatives or projects for skill sharing and resourcefulness to help reduce waste (such as sewing bees or repair cafes). The trust currently runs the clothing boutique, selling good quality secondhand clothes – a great way to pass on clothes you no longer wear, or to buy secondhand in Twizel rather than buying new.


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