Zero Waste in Mid-Canterbury

Zero Waste in Mid-Canterbury

This guide covers Mid-Canterbury only. For the rest of the Canterbury region, please refer to the Zero Waste in Canterbury homepage.



Our heartfelt gratitude to Sugarcube Studios, the creators of EcoSpot, for bringing our guides to life – designing a map for us and creating such joyful imagery to go with it!

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!

  • New Zealand Biograins, 33 West St, Ashburton – 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.
  • Shop nd Save, 512 East Street, Ashburton – stocks a few unpackaged beans and legumes in bulk bins
  • Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton – stocks Bay Road peanut butter in glass jars which you can return to the store when empty to be taken back by Bay Road to be washed and reused
  • Supermarkets – most 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 much pricier than the bulk bins at places like Bin Inn. But look out for when things in the bulk bin aisle in supermarkets are on special because sometimes you can get a good deal!

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!

  • Netherby Meats, 212 Chalmers Avenue, Ashburton – BYO plastic containers OK (although there’s a lot of plastic wrap in the shop…)
  • Evans Quality Meats, 127 Archibald Street, Tinwald, Ashburton – they prepack everything in store, though you can BYO containers for a few things from out back. 
  • 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.
  • New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, Ashburton – stocks Bostock’s organic chicken which comes in certified home compostable packaging.
  • 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 either of the two Countdowns in Ashburton and also at New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, Ashburton.
  • Supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering unpackaged meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more. All Countdown supermarkets officially allow you to BYO container for these goods! Most Fresh Choice supermarkets to do. Watch this space for when New World and PAK’nSAVE extend this practice to the South Island also…

The following stores bake and sell unpackaged bread and bakery goods (in some of these stores some items might be pre-packed or wrapped in cling film, just avoid those things!). Simply BYO bread bag to put the bread/bakery goods into. Some places will bag up their bread later in the day, so you want to get in there before they do that (i.e. before 1pm).

  • Harvey’s Bakehouse, 56 Creek Road, Ashburton
  • Cafe Time, 37 Archibald Street, Tinwald, Ashburton – you’ll need to ask them to set a loaf aside as they usually prepackage their bread, or leave them with a bread bag a day before you want to get one.
  • Ashburton Farmers’ Market (see below)
  • Most supermarkets (and even some Four Squares) stock unpackaged bread, bread rolls and/or bakery goods in their bakery section – just pop them into your BYO bags!

  • Markets – No two ways about it, if you want a good source of unpackaged (often locally grown) produce, markets are the place to go! At most markets you can meet the grower/producer face-to-face, making them an ideal place to start fruitful conversations about waste-free food, and to develop relationships and systems that enable you to get your favourite fruit, vege and preserves without the packaging. You may also find local producers of pre-made foods like tofu, preserves and sauces etc. Have a chat to see if you can leave containers with the stall holders for them to fill with your desired product for you to pick up from them the following week, or if the stallholder uses glass jars for packaging, ask whether they will take their empty glass jars back for sterilisation and reuse. Often the answer is yes! Check out the Ashburton Farmers’ Market, corner West and Havelock Streets – 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. 
  • Zero waste fruit and vege box delivery – In Ashburton, Fruit Madness run a very affordable, packaging-free (apart from the occasional brown paper bag) fruit and veggie box delivery. Delivered weekly to your door in an upcycled banana box. Most of the produce is NZ-grown too. Nice!
  • Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton – get unpackaged fudge put into BYO containers here.

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:

  • Uh-oh! We didn’t find anywhere in Mid-Canterbury where this was possible – have we missed somewhere?

We avoid teabags as most have plastic in them, which we don’t want in our tea or our soil. Using loose leaf tea is an easy way to get around this. The trick is to find somewhere that sells loose leaf tea packaging-free, so you can put the leaves straight into BYO jars/containers! You’ll find loose tea leaves in bulk dispensers at:

  • Uh-oh! We didn’t find anywhere in Mid-Canterbury where this was possible – have we missed somewhere?
  • Bell‘s loose leaf tea comes packaged only in cardboard and paper and is readily available in most supermarkets, Four Squares and dairies.

Sourcing cow’s milk without the plastic bottles or non-dairy milk without the dreaded Tetra-pak is no mean feat! We’ve found the following options:

  • Glass bottle return/swap scheme for dairy milk – Lushington’s Cafe, 5 Archibald Street, Tinwald, Ashburton stocks Roan Farm full cream organic milk in reusable glass bottles. The first time you buy a bottle of milk, you pay a little extra to cover the cost of the bottle and to ensure that you return it when you’re done. Return empty bottles to Lushington’s Cafe, and exchange it for a full bottle for only the price of the milk (or else get your deposit back). The empties are then returned to Roan Farm for sterilisation and reuse – so the bottles just go around and around – true zero waste!

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:

  • Liquorland Tinwald, 101 Archibald Street, Tinwald – Speight’s and DB on tap available from the Tavern next door, but pay at Liquorland.
  • Methven Liquor Centre, 137 Main Street, Methven – BYO bottle/rigger to be filled with beer on tap at either the pub or bar on both sides of the liquor store.

Also, don’t forget that most liquor stores do ‘swappa crates’ of beer – i.e. crates of twelve 745ml bottles of classic NZ beer (e.g. Lion Red/Brown, Speights, Tui, Export Gold etc.) which can be returned (when the bottles are empty) and are then sent back to the brewery for sterilisation and refill (a better outcome for glass bottles than recycling because reusing the same bottle over and over requires way less energy and resources than recycling).

  • Uh-oh! We didn’t find anywhere stocking other drinks in a waste-free manner – either drinking chocolate/cocoa in bulk bins or kombucha or juice on tap or in a bottle exchange system… have we missed somewhere?

Reusable drinking vessels (cups and water bottles)

Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable metal water bottles at Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton; and Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street, Ashburton. You can get reusable glass water bottles at The Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton; several different brands at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; and at Methven i-SITE, 160 Main Street, Methven.

There are lots of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups, including Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton (several varieties), The Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton (the SoL brand); Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton; Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street, Ashburton (who stock the NZ-made Cuppa Coffee Cup and a stainless steel reusable cup by Moana Rd); Smith Gallery, 38 McMillan Street, Methven (Cuppa Coffee Cup); Primo e Secundo, 40 McMillan Street, Methven (Methven branded); and at the Staveley Store, 2 Burgess Road, Staveley (Joco brand).

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. Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton 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 Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton, which sells lunch tote bags, 100% organic cotton produce, bulk bin and string bags, several repurposed produce bags and lots of other food-themed cotton bags. Get other 100% cotton produce bags New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street, Ashburton; Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton; Paper Plus, 212 East Street, Ashburton; and SuperValue Methven, 34 The Mall, Methven.

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 Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton (including one with a spoon on one end!); Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, Ashburton; Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton; East Street Pharmacy, 182 East Street, Ashburton; The Pantry, 121 Main Street, Methven; and Methven Pharmacy, 101 Main Street, Methven.

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

  • Reusable sandwich bags – Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton stocks the MunchGinger Pye and Keep Leaf brands.
  • Beeswax wrap 
    • Purchase at – Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; The Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street (though FYI that these wraps are imported from the USA…); Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton; Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton; Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street, Ashburton; and Staveley Store, 2 Burgess Road, Staveley.
    • DIY (waaaay cheaper) – You just need natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. Annie’s Country Quilt Store167 Archibald Street, Ashburton and Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton 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, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton (you may need to ask them to order in more).
  • 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, Ashburton.

Refills of cleaning products

The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO containers/bottles!

Low-waste dishwashing

You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; and Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton. Simply Eco also stocks the Go Bamboo veggie brushes, which are 100% home compostable when they do wear out, though they are veggie brushes, lots of people like to use them as a handless dishbrush!

We also encourage people to move away from using dishcloths, 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. There are various options in Ashburton:

  • Find locally knitted 100% cotton dishcloths at Unique Boutique, The Arcade, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton (just check the label to ensure they are 100% cotton and not a cotton blend) and Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton.
  • Get 100% cotton cloths at Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, Ashburton; Clothe, 30 Forest Drive, Methven; and Staveley Store, 2 Burgess Road, Staveley.
  • If you’re after something a bit more like a sponge/absorbent cloth, check out the SPRUCE or Munch cloths, which are 100% cotton and cellulose, so home compostable when they wear out. You can get these at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; and New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street. You can also get a similar product at Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton, but these ones are individually packaged in plastic – doh!


  • Eco Planet and Earthwise 1kg laundry powder both come in a cardboard box with no inner plastic lining, and Eco Planet’s scoop is made of cardboard while Earthwise has no scoop at all. Find both at New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street; or just Earthwise at both Ashburton Countdown Supermarkets; Four Square Netherby, 2 Bridge Street, Ashburton; and SuperValue Methven, 34 The Mall, Methven.
  • You can also get Living Green laundry powder, which is the same deal (no plastic, septic tank safe) with a bamboo scoop, from any Countdown supermarket.
  • Alternatives to plastic pegs – you can get both bamboo or stainless steel clothes pegs at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; just stainless steel pegs at Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred Street, Ashburton; or just bamboo pegs at SuperValue Methven, 34 The Mall, Methven

Ingredients for DIY cleaning products

  • Health 2000, 188 Tancred St, Ashburton – 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).

Dental Care

  • 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). Find at Wises Pharmacy, 155 Wills Street, Ashburton; Life Pharmacy, 262 East Street, Ashburton; Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street; both Ashburton Countdown supermarkets; and Methven Pharmacy, 101 Main Street, Methven.
  • Dental Floss – both of Ashburton’s Countdowns AND Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton stock Do Gooder floss, which comes in a refillable glass tube with a screw on metal lid. The WHITE floss is made of 100% silk and is home compostable (the black floss has polyester in it so is landfill only). When you run out of the floss, no need to get a new dispenser, you can get refills of the floss in a cardboard box at Simply Eco (unfortunately the refills are not yet available at Countdown) – just pop the refill into your original metal/glass dispenser.

Unpackaged Bars of Soap

It’s easy to get soap without packaging/better packaging in Ashburton. The following stores sell totally naked/paper/cardboard wrapped bars of soap:

  • Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton
  • Kitchen Kapers, 91 Tancred St, Ashburton
  • Health 2000, 105 Tancred Street, Ashburton
  • Unique Boutique, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton
  • Somerset Grocer, 161 Burnett Street, Ashburton
  • East Street Pharmacy, 182 East Street, Ashburton
  • Fusion Gallery, 214 East Street, Ashburton
  • Methven Pharmacy, 101 Main Street, Methven
  • Topp Country Cafe, 45 Forest Drive, Methven
  • Clothe, 30 Forest Drive, Methven
  • More than Mail, 129 Main Street, Methven
  • Staveley Store, 2 Burgess Road, Staveley.

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!

  • In Ashburton you can get 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): Life Pharmacy, 262 East Street, Ashburton and Farmers, 150 East Street, Ashburton (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging). 
  • Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton – also stocks a wide range of soap/shampoo/facial cleansing/deodorant bars by other brands, including Dirty Hippie, Jeymar and Global Soap, and Bee Fresh deodorant packaged in home compostable cardboard only.
  • Unique Boutique, 109 Tancred Street, Ashburton – stocks Tiny Farm shampoo and conditioner bars, as well as deodorant in compostable cardboard tubes.
  • Staveley Store, 2 Burgess Road, Staveley – stocks Blue Earth soaps, including shampoo bars, in cardboard packaging.

Reusable Menstrual Products

There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads.

  • Menstrual cups – keep an eye out for cups by local legends, Wā Collective – we saw them stocked at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; and Smith Gallery, 38 McMillan Street, Methven; other brands are sold in New World Ashburton, 75 Moore Street; and both Countdowns in Ashburton.
  • Reusable, washable pads are available at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton.


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) – note, you might need a shaving brush to make this work. Get safety razors, replacement blades and shaving brushes at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton.

Liquid toiletries on tap

  • You can get refills of body wash and liquid hand soap at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton.


  • Washable cotton nappies – no need to explain this one. Get them from Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton; Unique Boutique, 109 Tancred Street; and both Ashburton Countdowns.
  • Toilet Paper – Greencane toilet paper is wrapped in home-compostable packaging and is available at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton
  • Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds are available at Simply Eco, 106B Victoria Street, Ashburton.

Reuse and Recycle

  • 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. 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. 
  • 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.
    • Repair – 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).
    • Recycle – 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.
  • Ashburton Wastebusters – one of the oldest community recycling centres in the country, still a hub for waste education and recycling. 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.

Zero Waste Information and Support Networks

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.

Share and Exchange

  • 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.
  • 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!

Skills and Resourcefulness in Communities

  • 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.
  • 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!

1 thought on “Zero Waste in Mid-Canterbury”

  • Hi! At the St John Opportunity Shop in Tancred Street, Ashburton we are plastic bag free and that’s going very well for us, 95% of people are understanding and accepting of the fact that plastic is destroying our environment and that we don’t want to contribute to that. Additionally, we produce in-store our own unique, reusable bags, for customer purchase, made entirely from donated, unwanted materials. Any items donated to our shop that we are unable to sell are recycled and given another life!

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