This guide covers Rotorua District only. For other parts of the Bay of Plenty, please refer to the Zero Waste in the Bay of Plenty homepage.
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 Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, flours, and legumes), a range of spices, liquid foods (including vinegars, oils and syrups), sweets and treats, and items essential for zero waste living, such as baking soda, salt and other specialty baking/cooking goods. They also have a peanut butter machine so you can refill a glass jar with peanut butter before your eyes. This particular Bin Inn also sells loose organic frozen blueberries (yes indeedy, just BYO container!) All Bin Inn stores around New Zealand stores are currently offering 5% discount when you bring your own containers!
- Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua – a lovely little store with a great attitude. This shop is under new ownership, and Ema is super keen to keep her shop low waste. There’s already a great range of unpackaged organic produce, most of it local. But what’s also pretty exciting is that Ema plans to phase in bulk bins for wholefoods, based on their capacity and also what the community wants – so if you want to see something stocked (whether it’s flour, herbs, spices, or grains and legumes), just get in touch with them!
- Spice World, 1155 Amohau Street, Rotorua – stocks a great range of bulk bins with all the essential dried goods, including flours, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, salt and sugar.
- Moshim’s Rotorua, 1197 Amohau Street, Rotorua – huge range of bulk bins with all the essential dried goods, including flours, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, salt and sugar, baking soda and baking powder.
- The Health Shop, 1184 Eruera Streeet, Rotorua – stocks a small variety of organic foods in bulk bins, including flours, grains, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. The rest of the bulk produce is repackaged into cellophane. Cellophane is theoretically home compostable, but nowadays retailers do have to double check with their supplier that it is actually 100% cellulose or if it’s got some petroleum in there too… Ask at the counter to see if the store owner has checked this with their supplier.
- Rotorua Fresh, 1114 Eruera Street, Rotorua – has a small range of bulk bins stocking legumes, flours, rice and some nuts.
- Brown Owl Organics – this is a large organic food co-op that packs to order – their range is large and includes dried goods as well as liquids (such as oils and vinegars). If this appeals then you could talk to the organisers to see if your food could be packed into your own reusable bags/containers, or solely in brown paper bags rather than plastic.
- 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 frequently much pricier than the bulk bins at Indian groceries or 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!
- The Meat Shoppe, 1294 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
- Te Arawa Fresh Seafood, 271 Te Ngae Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua
- Te Ngae Fish Supply, Te Ngae Shopping Centre, Owhata, Rotorua
- Redwood Butchery, 5 Tarawera Road, Redwood Shopping Centre – although the meat that is visible in the deli is all pre-packaged, if you BYO a container and ask nicely, this butcher will happily take your container out back and fill it with your order from the unpackaged meat out back.
- Unpackaged live mussels – there are a few stores in the area 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 New World Westend, 247 Old Taupo Road, Hillcrest, Rotorua; PAK’nSAVE Rotorua, Corner Fenton & Amohau Streets, Rotorua
- BYO containers to supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering unpackaged meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more. All Countdown, New World and PAK’nSAVE supermarkets officially allow you to BYO container for these goods!
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).
- Ciabatta Cafe, 38 White Street, Rotorua
- Pantry d’Or Boutique Bakery, 201 Ranolf Street, Rotorua
- Baker’s Kitchen, 1291 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
- Patrick’s Boutique Bakery, 49 Lake Road, Rotorua
- Malfroy Bakery, 176 Malfroy Road, Rotorua
- La Bonne Bakery & Cafe, 4 Tarawera Road, Rotorua
- Express Bakehouse, Te Ngae Shopping Centre, Rotorua
- Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls – stocks unpackaged loaves of bread from Bread Asylum on Fridays
- 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. At markets 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. One such place to which you can BYO bags and containers is the Rotorua Farmers’ Market, Te Manawa, Rotorua, on Sundays. For example, you can get unpackaged, locally grown organic produce from Lux Organics who provide most of their produce unpackaged. While they package their salad and micro greens, they also provide the option for their customers to get these items unpackaged too, if you BYO box or bag. They are also working on sourcing a truly home compostable bag for their salad and micro greens too. The Hungarian Artisan Co stocks their delicious artisan sausages, available unpackaged if you want to pop one in your BYO bag/container. If you’re hungry at the market, you can also stop by the Tea and Happiness food truck – they’re more than happy to put their delicious food to order straight into your BYO takeaway container. Yay!
- Trade Aid – Trade Aid’s 1.5kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags and when they start to fall apart you can home compost them. Trade Aid’s coconut oil is one of the few on the market that does not have a plastic seal around the lid and the size of the jar is fabulous for upcycling for homemade cosmetics etc. You can get these goods at Trade Aid, 1285 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua.
- Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Fals- come up to the counter with your own bags/containers to take advantage of the loose chocolate and candy.
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:
- BREW, Eat Street (1103 Tutanekai Street) are happy to put unpackaged beans/ground coffee straight into your own containers (yes, they roast coffee as well as brewing beer!).
- Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua.
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:
- Spice World, 1155 Amohau Street, Rotorua
- Bell‘s loose leaf tea is packaged in 100% paper and cardboard 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:
- Milk powder in bulk bins – available at Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua, and Moshim’s Rotorua, 1197 Amohau Street, Rotorua
- Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives – get Vigour & Vitality mylk pastes in glass bottles from Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua (V&V offer their pastes in bulk dispensers where you can refill your bottles, so you could ask Go Organic to consider this low-waste option)
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:
- BREW, Eat Street, Rotorua – the home of Crouchers craft beer
- Liquor King, 244 Fenton Street, Rotorua.
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/cocoa – available in bulk bins at Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua.
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 Stevens, 1241 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua, Farmers Rotorua, Central Mall, Cnr Amohau and Amohia Sreets, Rotorua; Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Simply Different, 1199 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua; and at lots of Rotorua’s souvenir shops.
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Rotorua:
- Find the Keep Cup brand at Artisan Cafe, 1149 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua; Stevens, 1241 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua; Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls.
- Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua stocks rCup.
- You can get glass Sol cups and stainless steel Avanti Go cups at Simply Different, 1199 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
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 Rethink produce bags at The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua and Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls, or even better, locally-made reusable produce bags by The Bag Ladies, which you can get at Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Portico Gallery, 1157 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua; and at the Rotorua Farmers’ Market, Te Manawa, Rotorua.
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 Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua (glass and bamboo); The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua; Portico Gallery, 1157 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua; Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua; and Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap – beautiful locally-made beeswax wraps at Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua, Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua, the Rotorua Farmers’ Market, Te Manawa, and Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls. Other brands are available at Portico Gallery, 1157 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua; Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Fall; and The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua (altough these are the Bee-wrapt brand that unfortunately comes packaged in plastic). You can also make your own beeswax wraps! You just need to get natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. Keep an eye out at secondhand stores and fabric stores for off-cuts of cotton, or see if you can get some upcycled natural fibre fabric from Cottage Flair, 1127 Fenton Street, Rotorua. Get unpackaged beeswax candles that you could melt down and then use to make your own beeswax wraps at The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua.
- 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 Simply Different, 1199 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua.
Refills of cleaning products
The following stores stock powdered and/or liquid cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers!
- Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua – (chemical and Ecostore)
- Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls – (Ecostore dishwashing liquid)
- Find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at The Health Shop, Rotorua, 1184 Eruera Street, Rotorua; The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua; and Stevens, 1241 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua.
- Home compostable veggie brushes (which you can use as a handle-less dishbrush)are sold at Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; and Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua
- 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:
- Get hand knitted 100% cotton dishcloths made by Unni at the Rotorua Farmers’ Market, Te Manawa, Rotorua.
- Knit/crochet your own! Cottage Flair, 1127 Fenton Street, Rotorua stocks 100% organic cotton yarn.
- Eco Planet laundry powder comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining! You can get it from New World Westend, 247 Old Taupo Road, Hillcrest, Rotorua.
- Alternatives to plastic clothes pegs – Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua and stocks Go Bamboo bamboo clothes pegs. The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua – stocks Bento Ninja stainless steel clothes pegs. Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls stocks both of these two brands (ie bamboo and stainless steel).
Ingredients for DIY cleaning products
- Baking soda is available in bulk bins at Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; and Moshim’s Rotorua, 1197 Amohau Street, Rotorua.
- 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), are available at The Health Shop, Rotorua, 1184 Eruera Street, and Health 2000, 1211 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua.
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 Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; The Health Shop Rotorua, 1184 Eruera Street, Rotorua; New World Westend, 247 Old Taupo Road, Hillcrest, Rotorua; Capers Epicurean, 1181 Eruera Street, Rotorua; The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua; Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls; and Brown Owl Organics.
Unpackaged Bars of Soap
It’s easy to get soap without packaging in Rotorua. The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap:
- Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua – locally made by Wishin’ Tree
- Living Colour Florist, 1197 Eruera Street, Rotorua
- Simply Different, 1199 Tutanekai Street, Rotorua
- Portico Gallery, 1157 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua
- NZ Soap and Candle, 94 Pururu Street, Rotorua
- The Living Room Collective, 1131 Amohau Street, Rotorua
- Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls
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!
- A couple of places stock 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): Farmers Rotorua, Central Mall, Cnr Amohau and Amohia Sreets; and Okere Falls Store, 757a State Highway 33, Okere Falls;
- Portico Gallery, 1157 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua stocks Wouldn’t Know ’em From a Bar of Soap shaving bars and activated charcoal facial cleansing bars.
Reusable Menstrual Products
There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads.
- Menstrual cups – stocked at Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; The Health Shop Rotorua, 1184 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Te Ngae Pharmacy, 5 Tarawera Road, Rotorua; and Unichem Central Pharmacy Rotorua, 1181 Amohia Street, Rotorua.
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. You can get shaving brushes from Te Ngae Pharmacy, 5 Tarawera Road, Rotorua; Unichem Central Pharmacy Rotorua, 1181 Amohia Street, Rotorua
Ingredients for DIY cosmetics/toiletries
- Baking Soda is an essential ingredient in lots of homemade toiletries such as toothpaste and deodorant. You can get it unpackaged in bulk from Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; and Moshim’s Rotorua, 1197 Amohau Street, Rotorua.
- Unpackaged epsom salts available at Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua and Moshim’s Rotorua, 1197 Amohau Street, Rotorua.
- Cotton Buds – Go Bamboo makes home compostable buds so you can avoid the single-use, unrecyclable plastic ones. Get them from Go Organic, 1070 Eruera Street, Rotorua; Bin Inn Rotorua (Redwood), 5/11a Tarawera Road, Redwood Centre, Rotorua; The Health Shop Rotorua, 1184 Eruera Street, Rotorua; and Brown Owl Organics.
- Food waste – food waste and scraps going to landfill not only produces methane, but also represents the loss of an excellent resource that could be turned into compost to enrich our soil, or, if the discarded food was still edible, the loss of perfectly good food that could go to someone that wants to eat it! If you would like to set up your own home compost, worm farm or bokashi system, but aren’t sure where to start, consider linking up with your local community garden (see below), which is a great way to pick up some composting skills, or perhaps the community garden compost has space for your food scraps! If you’re struggling to set up a system in your own home, or if you have space in your compost for others, check out Sharewaste, New Zealand’s nationwide website linking up people with composts with those who don’t! If you’re a business chucking out food that is still edible but not saleable, get in touch with Love Soup, who rescue and redistribute food otherwise destined for landfill to people who need it throughout Rotorua City. If you’ve got a fruit tree or vege garden at home that’s producing excess food, check out Rotorua’s branch of Community Fruit Harvesting that picks excess fruit from backyards and orchards around NZ and redistributes it to those in need!
- E-waste – electronic waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, with huge environmental implications because of the toxins that can be leached from this waste, but also the loss of incredibly precious resources embedded in these items that are not recovered when the waste is dumped in landfill. Rather than throwing you broken electronics out – have you considered trying to get them repaired first? You could pay someone to do it or look out for Repair or Fix-it Cafes where experts donate their time to fix people’s broken items for free at a designated repair event (usually run by community centres, churches or councils). If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to be recycled responsibly. You can do this at the Recycling Centre, 24 Te Ngae Road, Rotorua. You will have to pay to recycle them (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.
- 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. Para Kore’s Kaiārahi for Rotorua is Harina Rupapera – if you’re keen for some awhi with waste reduction, she’d be stoked to hear from you 🙂
- 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 some great community gardens around Rotorua, check out Community Rotorua’s directory! 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.
- Menzshed/The DIY Shed/Community Sheds– Rotorua has some great community shed options where people of all ages get together to share tools and a workspace (reducing the wasteful overduplication of these resources) to learn and pass on skills of woodworking and other trades. Community sheds 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! In Rotorua there’s a Menzshed AND the gender inclusive DIY Shed – woohoo!
- Boomerang Bags – joining a group that is sewing reusable bags to give out to the community is a great way to learn to sew while helping to reduce plastic bag consumption and these groups are always looking for volunteers (regardless of whether or not you have prior sewing knowledge). Boomerang Bags does this and has taken New Zealand by storm, and there’s a Boomerang Bags group in Rotorua!