Zero Waste in Nelson City

Zero Waste in Nelson City

This guide covers Nelson City only. For the Tasman District, please refer to the Zero Waste in the Nelson-Tasman Region Homepage.


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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!

  • Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, flours, pasta and legumes), a range of spices (also loose vanilla pods), plenty of unpackaged sweets, treats and snacks, and liquid foods like vinegars (even balsamic!), a wide selection of oils, honey, syrups and tahini. 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.
  • Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street – a very impressive array of bulk bins stocking legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, muesli, cereals, pasta (incl wholemeal), flours, herbs + spices, sugars, baking soda and baking powder, yeast and seaweed. There are also lots of liquid foods on tap, including maple syrup, sunflower oil, syrups, tahini, vinegar, soy sauce and tamari, honey.
  • The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street – this gorgeous community-owned organic co-op is open to the public to shop at and is predominantly a bulk store. It is housed in Ecoland with the Nelson Environment Centre. You can find a great range of bulk dried foods, including bulk legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, flours, spices, herbs, sugars/sweetners, baking soda and seaweed. Organic produce is also available, including loose salad leaves (yay no plastic bag). There are also lots of liquid foods on tap, including oils, molasses, honey, tahini, vinegars and syrups. They also stock seasonal things that are generally harder to find without packaging (e.g. loose/unpackaged frozen blueberries).
  • Benge & Co Green Grocers, 60 Montgomery Square, Nelson; 520 Main Road, Stoke – stocks loose spinach/mesculin/salad leaves and loose organic dates. The store also sells locally made Three Groves olive oil on tap (just BYO bottle).
  • Prego Mediterranean Foods, 90 Collingwood Street, Nelson – stocks big jars of Pic’s Peanut Butter which can be returned and refilled for $5 less than buying a new one, and olive oil on tap from Elovi and Tasman Ridge (BYO bottle for a refill).
  • FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street – this supermarket has the usual over-priced bulk section of snacks, dried fruits and nuts that most supermarkets have, BUT it also has an organic bulk section (highly unusual) that is affordable, in the sense that the bulk items are less expensive than the packaged version (usually it’s the opposite in supermarkets). This section has a range of dried foods such as flours, legumes, rice, grains, oats, sugars, cereal and dried fruit.
  • The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke – such a great store with a big range of affordable bulk foods including, legumes, rice, spices and herbs, seeds, nuts, grains, dried fruit, flours, cereals, sugars, salts, and baking soda and baking powder. The store also has liquid foods on tap, including kiwifruit vinegar and apple cider vinegar, molasses, local honey, and local extra virgin olive oil. They also have a peanut butter extruder, just BYO jar!
  • Supermarkets – all major supermarkets in Nelson have well stocked bulk bin/pick and mix sections with wholefoods (BYO bags for these). However they’re pretty expensive, often more so than equivalent ingredients in packets (bah!), and more so than the bulk bins at places like Bin Inn or the organic stores.


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!

  • Pestell’s Rai Bacon Co, 22 McMahon Street, Stoke – this butcher will put unpackaged cuts of meat straight into a BYO container, just ask!
  • The Mad Butcher, 201 Songer Street, Stoke – we’ve heard that you can BYO container to get fresh cuts of meat without the disposable plastic here.
  • Guyton’s, 270 Wakefield Street, Stepneyville – you can get unpackaged seafood from the deli, straight into your own bags/containers. You can also ask for your seafood to be wrapped in paper rather than plastic.
  • Prego Mediterranean Foods, 90 Collingwood Street, Nelson – at the deli you can also get some unpackaged goodies, like cheese off the round, olives, sundried tomatoes, etc. If you have cash to spare, you can also buy a whole giant round of gouda cheese ($300-$400) – avoid the plastic and just get the waxy hard casing.
  • Supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering unpackaged meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more. All Countdown supermarkets officially allow you to BYO container for these goods. Watch this space for New World and PAK’nSAVE to jump on board in the South Island has well…


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).

  • The Swedish Cafe & Bakery, 54 Bridge Street, Nelson – artisan sourdough breads, pastries etc.
  • Don Rodrigo Sourdough Bakery – you’ll find their natural sourdough breads at the Wednesday or Saturday markets
  • L’Artisan Bakery, 167 Hardy Street
  • KB’s/Kiwi Bakery, 149 Hardy Street
  • FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street – sells in store and Don Rodrigo bread unpackaged
  • Tozzetti, 14 Vanguard Street, Neslon – sourdough bread, bagels, croissants, pastries
  • Fresh As Bakery, 12 Tahunanui Drive, Nelson
  • 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! – get to your local markets to see if you can get locally-made food and wares unpackaged or put into your own bags and containers. Often stallholders are happy to tip their pre-packaged goods into your own containers and then they’ll keep and reuse their container. Another option is to ask if the local producer is willing to refill the container you buy when you run out, rather than you having to buy a whole new container. You’ll be amazed how willing people will be to find zero waste ways for you to get their wonderful creations. At markets, the trick is just to ask stallholders about the options because you never know what you might find – that particular stallholder might have spent the whole day wishing for a waste-conscious customer – so don’t be shy 😉 Nelson has three excellent markets that are prime spots for unpackaged goodies and fruitful conversations – the Nelson Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays (8am-2pm) @ Maitai Boulevard, the Nelson Saturday Market on Saturdays @ Montgomery Square, Nelson and Monty’s Sunday Market on Sundays @ Montgomery Square, Nelson. We asked quite a few stallholders to test the waters, and can confirm that peeps are open-minded here! For example, you can get cheese cut off the round into your own containers from various cheese stalls (including Wangapeka Cheeses and Cheese Shop). Furthermore, if you’re into meatless meats, usually you can only find these hermetically sealed in about ten layers of plastic, but not at the Nelson Market, where you can get faux meats put into your own containers from The Vegetarian Butcher. You can also get your own bags and containers filled with muesli from Muesli & Co (they’ll pour it from their own bag into your container, and then they’ll keep the bag for reuse), and the Pic’s Peanut Butter stall will give you a discount on future large jars of peanut butter if you bring back your old empty jar for refill, and they’ll also take back any of their smaller jars (which you may have bought at the market or in other retailers stocking Pic’s) to donate to others making preserves etc. with your deposit going to charity – yeee! If you love Urban Hippie’s Miso, then you’re in luck because the owner will take BYO containers, fill them up for you, and then bring them to the market the following week. Is there no end to the benevolence of the Nelson Market??
  • Fresh2U Organic Food Delivery – organic, locally-grown fruit + vege boxes with NO packaging delivered to your door, anywhere in Nelson 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!
  • Trade Aid Nelson, 148 Hardy Street, Nelson – 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. Apart from the Trade Aid store itself, you can also get the sugar at FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street.
  • You can also get unpackaged She Universe chocolates at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.


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:

  • Kush Coffee, 5 Church Street, Nelson
  • Sublime Coffee Roasters, 211 Haven Road, Stepneyville, Nelson
  • Pomeroy’s Coffee and Tea, 105 Montgomery Square, Nelson
  • The Coffee Factory, 16 Elms Street, Wakatu Estate Nelson
  • Raglan Roast, The Sands, 623 Rocks Road, Tahunanui (which also has a combo deal where you can get 200g of coffee beans/grinds AND a freshly made barista coffee for $10)
  • Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street
  • FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street. 


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:

  • The Hollow, 144 Bridge Street, Nelson
  • Pomeroy’s Coffee and Tea, 105 Montgomery Square
  • The Coffee Factory, 16 Elms Street, Wakatu Estate Nelson
  • Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street
  • Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street
  • The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.
  • Last but not least! If you want tea that is not only unpackaged, but so local it’s virtually carbon neutral, then bring your own bags and containers to the Nelson Saturday Market to get Emma Heke’s locally-grown Heke Homemade Herbals tea – NOTE, you should email Emma beforehand to let her know what, and how much, you would like, so she can bring it unpackaged for you. She also prefers if you pay when you order.


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:

  • Milk on tap or from a vending machine – TWO options:
    • Oaklands Milk is available on tap from a vending machine at multiple locations across Nelson, including at the top of the Saxton Field car park in Stoke; the back of Vanilla Cafe, Bridge Street, Nelson; River Kitchen (Millers Acre), 81 Trafalgar Street, Nelson; Mean Greens, 117 St Vincent Street, Nelson; or The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke. Simply BYO bottle to fill up, or purchase a reusable glass bottle there that you can then refill on future occasions.
    • Ratabank Farms raw milk – sign up to the herd share and you can use their vending machine to get raw milk on tap at 140 Glen Road, Glenduan. Simply BYO bottle to fill up, or purchase a reusable glass bottle there that you can then refill on future occasions.
  • Milk delivery in reusable glass bottlesMilk & More is the longest milk-run in the country! They will deliver Oaklands Milk to your door in reusable glass bottles (just like the old days!) – leave your empty bottles out on the next delivery day so they can be returned to Oaklands Milk for sterilisation and refill. YAY!
  • Milk powder available in bulk bins – If it floats your boat, you can get unpackaged milk powder from Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street, Nelson – BYO bags/containers!


Look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. Breweries are awesome, but lots of liquor stores offer this option too! We found beer on tap at:

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


  • Drinking chocolate – you can get cocoa powder and/or drinking chocolate loose at a variety of stores, including Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street, Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke; FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street. 
  • Fizzy drinks on tap – you can get alcoholic and non-alcoholic ginger beer, and old-fashioned lemonade on tap at Bays Brewery, 89 Pascoe Street, Annesbrook, Nelson (woohoo!) – just BYO bottles/rigger.
  • Kombucha – Renegade Ferments will give you refills of their delish kombucha, into any BYO bottle – find them at Craft Beer Depot, 70 Achilles Avenue, Nelson or the Nelson Farmers’ Market on Wednesday (8am-2pm) @ Maitai Boulevard. You can also get MamaZing kombucha on tap at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street – BYO bottle (or buy a refillable pop-top bottle there).


Reusable drinking vessels (cups and water bottles)

Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street (metal); The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street (metal); Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson (metal); Pomeroy’s Coffee and Tea, 105 Montgomery Square, Nelson (metal); Health 2000 Nelson, Shop 7 City Centre Arcade, 219 Trafalgar Street, Nelson; The Kitchen, 111 Bridge Street, Nelson (metal); .

There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Nelson:

  • NZ-made Ideal Cup at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; and Kush Coffee, 5 Church Street, Nelson (Kush logo).
  • The Keep Cup brand is sold at Pomeroy’s Coffee and Tea, 105 Montgomery Square, Nelson; Caffe Roma, 3/11 Church Street, Nelson; The Kitchen, 111 Bridge Street, Nelson; Steven’s, 100 Bridge Street, Nelson
  • A stainless steel cup by Fressko is sold at Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street.
  • Both Zuperzozial and Oasis coffee cups are stocked at Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson, and Pomeroy’s Coffee and Tea, 105 Montgomery Square, Nelson.
  • JOCO glass coffee cups are sold at Red Art Gallery/Cafe, 1 Bridge Street, Nelson; and Strangers Collective, 192 Trafalgar Street, Nelson.
  • Ceramic cups with fitting silicone lids are sold at Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson

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. You can get the high quality Meals in Steel (who are a living wage employer) stainless steel lunchboxes and food containers at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street. Alternatively, you can get unbranded tiffins (stainless steel, multi-tier lunchboxes that are also excellent for getting takeaways in) at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street.

Reusable bags (shopping bags, produce bags and bulk bin bags)

Plastic shopping bags are a menace, but so too are those plastic produce bags for fruit and vege or the plastic bags often offered alongside bulk bins at bulk stores. You can avoid them by bringing your own bags or buying a set of reusable produce bags. You can get 100% organic cotton produce and/or bulk bin bags by either The Green Collective Loot and/or Rethink at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; Craig Potton Gallery and Store, 255 Hardy Street, Nelson; or 100% cotton reusable bags made by HappBee Planet from Prego Mediterranean Foods, 90 Collingwood Street, Nelson. As well as 100% cotton produce bags, The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke also stocks bags made by Boomerang Bags Nelson.

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 Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; and Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street

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

  • Beeswax wrap 
    • Purchase at – The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street (HappBee beeswax wraps made by local business HappBee Planet using local beeswax); Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street (local Tasman Gold brand); Fibre Spectrum Handweaving and Fibre Artists Co-operative, 280 Trafalgar Street, Nelson; Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson.
    • DIY – it’s way cheaper! 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. Get unpackaged beeswax at Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson, The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street, The Windmill Gift Shop at Founders Heritage Park, and the Mountain Valley Honey and Norb’s Gold stalls at the Nelson Saturday Market – yay! FYI, the beeswax at The Windmill Gift Shop and Norb’s Gold is organic.
  • Reusable sandwich bags – Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson stocks beeswax coated sandwich bags by KITPip Pottage Designs create gorgeous reusable lunch-bags made by Nelson local Pip Pottage (she even designs the fabric patterns, which are stunning!). While you can choose from lunchbags made from various materials, what caught our eye is the 100% natural fibre lunchbag (the organic cotton bag) – this is pretty unusual in the NZ reusable lunch bag market, so definitely check Pip’s site out – you can order directly from her website or go to one of her various stockists around Nelson (just have a look on her website for locations). Also, CoopJam is an awesome local upcycler that makes a range of upcycled products, including quite amazing reusable sandwich/cheese/lunch wraps. Woohoo! You can order these from CoopJam’s Facebook page. Otherwise reusable lunch wraps/sandwich bags by Ginger Pye and Woohoo NANA are sold at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street, or just Woohoo NANA at The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke. Get Keep Leaf reusable sandwich bags/lunch wraps at Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street.
  • 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 Prego Mediterranean Foods, 90 Collingwood Street, Nelson; Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson;


Refills of cleaning products

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

  • Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street, Nelson – stocks a wide range of both liquid and powdered cleaning products/ingredients you can fill your own bottles and containers with. Note these aren’t eco cleaners.
  • The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street – bulk refills of Ecostore’s liquid cleaning products (BYO bottle).
  • Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street – bulk refills of Goulter’s Vinegar Products‘ Citrogar Cleaner (a multipurpose cleaner).

Low-waste dishwashing

You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; Prego Mediterranean Foods, 90 Collingwood Street, Nelson; Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson (the Dishy brand – BEWARE of the other brand of wooden dishbrush in store because the heads on these are not natural fibres so are not home compostable);

Also, you can get wooden veggie brushes with plant fibre bristles which can also be used as dishbrushes (they just don’t have a handle) at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; and Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street.

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 dishcloth sponge, check out the SPRUCE or Wet-it! 100% cotton + cellulose dishcloth sponges (home compostable at the end of their life and won’t leach microfibres throughout their useful life either!) which are available at Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Benge & Co Green Grocers, 60 Montgomery Square, Nelson; 520 Main Road, Stoke; Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson; Red Art Gallery/Cafe, 1 Bridge Street, Nelson; Craig Potton Gallery and Store, 255 Hardy Street, Nelson
  • Alternatively, find 100% cotton/muslin cloths that can be used as dishcloths at Red Art Gallery/Cafe, 1 Bridge Street, Nelson
  • Cotton/linen hand woven dish cloths are sold at Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson (some have acrylic in them – a synthetic/plastic fibre – so make sure to avoid those ones!)
  • If you’re after a coarser scrubbing/scouring cloth, you can get the Safix 100% coconut fibre scourer from Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street, and Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; or corn/soy coarse scourers from Content Homeware, 73 Bridge Street, Nelson.

Laundry

  • Eco Planet and Next Generation laundry powder both come in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining! You can get both from New World Nelson City, 73 Vanguard Street, Nelson; and Eco Planet at FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street
  • Non-plastic clothes pegs – Go Bamboo pegs available at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street; and The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke. The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street also stocks stainless steel pegs.
  • Laundry soap bars – get the Studio Star bars at Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson or Global Soaps stain remover bars at Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson.

Ingredients for DIY cleaning products

  • Baking soda/washing soda/epsom salts/borax – available unpackaged in bulk bins at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke; and just baking soda at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.
  • White Vinegar – sold in bulk at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street
  • Essential Oils – get refills of essential oils at Aromaflex, 1/280-282 Trafalgar Street, Nelson – a beautiful store with a waste-reducing ethos; the store encourages people to return their bottles and containers to get refills of oils and essential oils (if you do so, you’ll even get a discount!). You can also get essential oil refills at Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson.
  • Bars of soap for dishwash liquid – we make our own dishwashing and laundry liquid using certain bars of soap (see how it works here). In Nelson you can get purpose made dishwashing bars that you can turn to liquid. For example, Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson stocks Studio Star kitchen soap bars, and The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street stocks Korukai dishwash bars – both purpose made for washing dishes! Alternatively, you can use bars of castile soap – get locally made castile soap from Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson. Otherwise, Dr Bronner’s castile bars (made in the USA), are available at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Health 2000 Nelson, Shop 7 City Centre Arcade, 219 Trafalgar Street, Nelson; and The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke.


Zero waste teeth and mouth

  • Bamboo toothbrushes – a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (though bristles are still plastic and need to be removed from the handle and put in a rubbish bin). You can find bamboo toothbrushes at Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson; FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street; Collingwood St Pharmacy, 132 Collingwood Street; Life Pharmacy, 191 Trafalgar St, Nelson; The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke; and One Dental, 24 Main Road, Stoke.
  • Dental Floss – The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; One Dental, 24 Main Road, Stoke; FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street; and any Countdown supermarket stocks 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, bamboo and activated charcoal 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 from all stockists listed above – just pop the refill into your original metal/glass dispenser. Do Gooder is an initiative started by Nelson-based dentist, Nicky Francis.

Unpackaged Bars of Soap

It’s easy to get soap without packaging in Nelson. The following stores sell totally naked (or only paper wrapped) bars of soap:

  • Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street
  • The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street
  • Aromaflex, 1/280-282 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
  • Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson – an emporium of soapy wonder! You can get virtually all of Global Soaps amazing handmade soaps at this store without packaging.
  • Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson – cardboard packed soap

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!

  • 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). You can find them at Life Pharmacy, 296 Hardy Street, Nelson; and Farmers, 219 Trafalgar Street.
  • Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson – an emporium of soapy wonder! You can get virtually all of Global Soaps amazing handmade soaps at this store without packaging, including shampoo, shaving and moisturizing bars (and more).
  • Purple Kiwi Goat Milk Soap – you can get this lovely goat milk soap unpackaged at the Nelson Saturday Market, including their shampoo and shaving bars and at Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street stocks Purple Kiwi goat milk shampoo bars and shaving bars.
  • Korukai bars of shampoo and conditioner are available at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.
  • Sustainably packaged toiletries
    • Deodorant in compostable cardboard tubes – available at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street (Bee Fresh) or Unichem Nelson Pharmacy, 131 Hardy Street.
    • Sunscreen in compostable cardboard tubes – available at Little Beehive Co-op, 123 Bridge Street, Nelson (LoveSong brand)

Reusable Menstrual Products

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

  • Menstrual cups – stocked at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Health 2000 Nelson, Shop 7 City Centre Arcade, 219 Trafalgar Street; Life Pharmacy Prices, 125 Collingwood Street; Unichem Nelson Pharmacy, 131 Hardy Street
  • Reusable, washable pads are available at The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.

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 (see above) – note, you’ll need a shaving brush to make this work. Most barbers and hairdressers can get razors, replacement blades and shaving brushes ordered in wholesale, so just ask your local.

Ingredients for DIY cosmetics/toiletries

  • Baking Soda is 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 Bin Inn Nelson, Montgomery Square, 16 Bridge Street; The Pantry Door, 526 Main Road, Stoke; and The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street.
  • Essential oilsAromaflex, 1/280-282 Trafalgar Street, Nelson – the store encourages people to return their bottles and containers to get refills of oils and essential oils (if you do so, you’ll even get a discount!).
  • Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson – here they also do refills of all their facial and body oils, as well as essential oils (the latter are great for homemade toiletries), which is very exciting.
  • You can also get unpackaged beeswax from Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson, The Windwill Gift Shop at Founders Heritage Park, and the Mountain Valley Honey and Norb’s Gold stalls at the Nelson Saturday Market – yay! FYI, the beeswax at The Windmill Gift Shop and Norb’s Gold is organic.

Liquid toiletries on tap 

  • The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street stocks Ecostore liquid bathroom products on tap e.g. shampoo, conditioner and handwash (just BYO bottles!).

Other

  • Cotton Buds – Go Bamboo makes home compostable buds so you can avoid the single-use, unrecyclable plastic ones. Get them from Organic Foods Nelson, 93 Collingwood Street; The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street; Global Soap Nelson, 117 Nile Street, Nelson; FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street
  • Toilet Paper The Organic Green Grocer, Ecoland, 31 Vanguard Street and FreshChoice Supermarket Nelson City, 69 Collingwood Street stocks Greencane toilet paper (which comes in fully home compostable packaging).


Reuse and Recycle

  • Food waste and composting – food waste in a bin gets sent to landfill where it breaks down anaerobically, producing methane (a potent greenhouse gas). No! Here are some alternatives:
    • Home composting/worm farms/bokashi – Having a composting, worm farm or bokashi bin system at home is the best and cheapest way to deal with your food scraps. If you’d like help setting one up or working out what the best system would be for you, the Nelson City Council has great info and resources on its website to help you set a system up and they both offer all residents a $20 subsidy coupon that you can put towards a new compost/worm farm/bokashi system (with participating retailers).
    • Food scrap collections – check out Community Compost – an organisation that will pick up your food scraps and take them away to compost for you (this service is available to both individuals AND businesses).
    • Edible business food waste – food that is still edible that goes to waste is a crying shame. Kai Rescue (run out of the Nelson Environment Centre) is a really excellent food redistribution service that rescues food from businesses that is not good enough to sell, but is still good enough to eat, and redistributes it to social justice organisations who can pass it on to people who need it most. 
  • 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.
    • 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 – the Tahunanui Community Centre is one such example).
    • Recycle – If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to the Nelson Environment Centre to be recycled – the centre recycles a huge range of electronics, making it the regional hub for e-waste recycling. It will come at a cost to you (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.
  • Nelson Environment Centre and Resource Recovery Centre – NEC is a mecca of great environmental work for the Nelson-Tasman region at large! Apart from the Kai Rescue and E-recycling services it runs, mentioned above, it also houses the Nelson Reuse & Recycle Centre, which is doing a fantastic service diverting large amounts of stuff from going to landfill through its two Reuse shops. If you’re ever in need of a new one-off purchase (from a home fit-out, cuts of wood, through to cutlery or appliances), consider coming to shop here first, before going to buy something new. You might be amazed by what you find (and the low cost). The centre also does a weekly tender for vintage/unique/valuable items.
  • What to do with wood off cuts? Don’t landfill wood if you can avoid it! You can take off cuts to your local resource and recovery centre for reuse/resale rather than landfilling, or your local Menshed will probably welcome them too.

Zero waste information and support networks

  • Waste No More – Zero Waste Nelson Whakatū – These peeps are total legends, providing a service to support events in the Nelson area to move towards zero waste. If you are thinking of running an event, get in touch with these people nice and early, to help them help you to reduce waste (and thus your event’s landfilling costs!!) If you are attending an event, look out for Waste No More‘s bin stations, where lovely volunteers help event-goers to put their ‘waste’ in the right bins. If you’re keen on learning more about waste and resource diversion, you might be keen to get in touch to volunteer with Waste No More – they’re always on the lookout for more passionate, waste-conscious people to volunteer 🙂
  • Para Kore – Para Kore is an amazing organisation working with marae, kura and Māori institutions and businesses to transition towards zero waste. Their resources/services are free and their regional kaiārahi are totally fabulous. The kaiarahi for Te Tau Ihu (top of the South Island) is Mel McColgan, so get in touch if you know an organisation Para Kore could work with in the region (or if you are involved with an organisation that would like to have Para Kore’s support!)
  • Boomerang Bags Nelson – an excellent initiative spreading across the country that equips people to avoid plastic shopping bags by making cloth bags available at stands in local stores and supermarkets (look out for these around town!) These bags are sewn by volunteers at sewing bees around the region. If you are interested in sewing bags then get in touch with the local Boomerang Bags team in your area. Even if you don’t know how to sew (yet) there are things you can do, and it’s probably a great way to learn too!

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.

Skills and Resourcefulness in Communities

  • Tahunanui Community Centre – this community centre is buzzing with activities that help to reduce waste, from sewing and upcycling activities, through to community gardens, hosting Boomerang Bags sewing bees, and running projects such as Fix-It cafes (get your broken goods fixed by people with the know-how, rather than chucking them out or sending them straight to recycling). Check them out if you live nearby!
  • Menzshed – there are Menzsheds throughout the Nelson-Tasman region. 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), and also creating bespoke items for community and charitable purposes. Definitely look up your local!
  • Community gardens – community gardens are an excellent way for residents to get kai without packaging, and to learn skills of growing food and setting up composts – both very useful skills for low-waste living. There are community gardens dotted around the region, so check out your local! Community gardens are always looking for volunteers to help out and come along to working bees, so if you are interested in picking up gardening skills, or if you are already a keen gardener and would like to have the opportunity to share your skill with others, consider getting involved with your local community garden.



8 thoughts on “Zero Waste in Nelson City”

  • Kia ora. I just heard today that I missed your presentation at the nelson library, and I would have loved it! However I have enjoyed reading your web site with all the wonderful things which we can purchase in our region without using plastics. Hopefully you would have seen our beeswax wraps at Ecoland/ Organic co-op and you have mentioned beeswax wraps in your list of products. It would be especially good if you added that they are called HappBee Wrap, made locally by HappBee Planet using local beeswax. We also make three sizes of reusable bags made from 100% cotton and beeswax which are currently available at Prego and the Saturday Market. Thanks for the opportunity to make this comment. I know I will refer to your web site often. Oh and just remembered, Pestells Butchers will also put meat into customers own containers. Thanks for spreading the zero waste message and inspiring people with your presentation. Jo

    • Kia ora Jo – thanks so much for getting in touch. Yes! We can definitely specify that the beeswax wrap in Ecoland/Organic Co-op is HappBee Wrap (we should have done this already, actually, and apologise that we didn’t specify that they were yours). Also, we have a feeling that some of the other beeswax wraps in some of the stores are yours too (maybe at Fibre Spectrum and Little Beehive, perhaps?) If you’re able to look through the guide and let us know if any of the places with beeswax wraps that we’ve listed are also stockists of HappBee, we’ll happily update all instances. Are you also the beeswax wrap that is in Good Health in Motueka?

      Didn’t see the reusable cotton bags when we were in Prego – will add that in too, but can you just give us some more details – are they reusable shopping bags, or produce or bulk bin bags?

      Thanks for leaving a comment 🙂

      H & L

  • Love your mahi you fullas! You have swept a zero waste wind through Te Tau Ihu, let’s hope the momentum continues, at the very least in connecting zero wasters and inspiring small changes. Thank you for this ace resource. Ngā mihi aroha ki a kōrua!

    • Tēna koe e hoa! We found such a zero waste-friendly community in Whakatū when we arrived, so lots of you have already done heaps of groundwork 🙂 SO exciting that the zero waste community is so strong because you’ve got so many committed peeps to keep the momentum going and to build it up even more. Ka mau te wehi! Arohanui – tino pai te tutaki i a kōrua, ko Carlo. Ko te tumanāko, ka tipu tonu te kaha a Waste No More, nā te mea, he tino ataahua ā koutou whakamiharo 🙂 Keep in touch!!

  • What an awesome list, thank you so much for compiling this! I now know where to buy beeswax in Nelson, (to try your lip-balm recipe) and also didn’t know that Prego will exchange the large Pics peanut butter jars.
    Under Food Options in Nelson, you could add that in New World supermarket on Vanguard street you can also ask for your meat or seafood to be wrapped in paper rather than plastic. In fact last time I shopped there the butcher just used paper only without askin;g; maybe he could tell what I wanted by looking at my trolley full of paper and cloth bags 🙂
    At Countdown on ParuParu Road you can ask for cold meats at the deli to be wrapped in paper only.
    I haven’t yet asked about using containers for other deli foods at either of these 2 supermarkets so I don’t know if they agree to do that or not.

    • Thanks for your comment, Rosey! That’s great that those supermarkets use paper instead of plastic (presumably it’s paper you can put in the compost and not waxed with anything synthetic?) We have been leaving the major supermarkets off for the moment just because they have a nationwide policy of rejecting BYO containers at the delis, which is a bit annoying. Have heard through the grapevine that FreshChoice in Nelson accepts BYO containers at the butchery?

  • Fresh choice nelson city does not have a staffed deli counter, and as such cannot fill your own containers. The deli foods are only available pre packaged, often in plastic. There is also no longer a staffed fish bar, so unfortunately it will be packaged in plastic trays and plastic wrap, pre cut. However, butchery staff are actually extremely accommodating, and if you go during the day I wouldn’t be surprised if they would pop meat in your own containers and print a barcode, though I haven’t seen it done before. This won’t work for the majority of organic meats however as it is sent to the store pre packaged. They now manage the fish through butchery so that may also be possible, but I’m not sure.
    As for bulk foods, really hit and miss on the pricing, and the weight of your container cannot be tarred. Using your own bags (much like reusable produce bags) is absolutely an option, but please make sure to note the numbers as it cannot be searched by name in the system.

    • Kia ora Ali,

      Thanks for this – yes, you may have noticed that we have not included FreshChoice Nelson City in the Butchery section of the guide for this reason. We called them up to talk about it about a year or so ago. They may be willing to informally pack butchery stuff into BYO containers if asked in advance, but not really sure (they did provide students with 100 sausages into BYO containers for a sausage sizzle when asked in advance, but not sure if they could do this regularly for individual customers).

      Re the bulk bins – yes, at supermarkets you cannot tare containers so it’s advisable to BYO light bags if using those bulk bins, or else just walk down the road to Organic Food Nelson and get your organic bulk food there instead (though note that Organic Food Nelson also don’t tare containers anymore, except for liquid foods – we just use lightweight reusable bags, it’s not a big deal).

      Thanks for your comments!

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