Here we have it – a zero waste shopping guide for the Greater Wellington Region (including Wellington City, Hutt Valley, Kāpiti Coast, and Wairarapa).
As Wellington was our training ground for living zero waste, it was natural for us to scope out the options in the city and the surrounding region, to discover what exciting and forward-thinking businesses and community groups make Te Ūpoko o te Ika home. So, in this guide we have expanded our Wellington-based experience to include as many options as possible for living zero waste in Kāpiti, the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa.
Please, if you know of a business that we have missed from this list, let us know! We will happily update this post with any suggestions, provided that the business stocks something that helps its customers to reduce their waste.
*** UPDATE *** We have recently revamped this guide to make it more user-friendly. Yay! We have broken it down into four geographical areas so that you can search your neck of the woods with ease (just click on your area in the bullet list below). However, on this landing page (i.e. right here, just scroll down!), we’ve pulled together several council and community organisations and initiatives that span across the whole region, so make sure you check those out too 😀
WELLINGTON-WIDE SHOPPING, COMMUNITY INITIATIVES AND WASTE REDUCING SERVICES
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, organisations like Sustainability Trust in Wellington City, Cannons Creek Community Pantry in Cannons Creek, the Green Gardener in Kāpiti, and various community gardens around the region offer composting workshops.
- Food scrap collections – If you’re in Wellington City, consider signing up to have your food waste picked up by Kai Cycle for a fee (your compost will then be taken to Workerbe Oasis, that grows food that gets redistributed to people in the city that need it most). If you are a business, you can sign up to Kai Cycle too, or you can also sign up to have your food waste picked up by Kai to Compost or Organic Waste Management, both of whom take the food scraps to be commercially composted at the Southern Landfill (not dumped in the big hole in the ground!). Organic Waste Management services Lower Hutt and Porirua as well as Wellington City.
- Dropping off your food scraps somewhere – If you’d like to break the food down yourself but haven’t got a garden to put into, you can buy your own bokashi bin and deliver the juices yourself to Workerbe Oasis, for free. OR, check if you can drop food scraps off at the compost bin in your local community garden. For example, if you live in Mount Vic, you’re welcome to drop your food scraps off to the compost at Innermost Gardens, or in Hataitai you can drop your scraps at the Hataitai Community Garden at the old Hataitai Bowling Club. There’s also a community compost at Aro Valley.
- Edible business food waste – food that is still edible that goes to waste is a crying shame. Across the Wellington region there are some really excellent food redistribution services that are rescuing food from businesses that is not good enough to sell, but is still good enough to eat, and redistributing it to social justice organisations who can pass it on to people who need it most. These excellent organisations include Kaibosh (Wellingon City and Lower Hutt), The Free Store (Wellington City), Kiwi Community Assistance (Tawa) and Waiwaste (Wairarapa). So if you’re a business with extra food at the end of the day, consider getting in touch with one of these organisations. Also, a shout out to The Free Store, which is working on making its operation zero waste (!) – businesses that work with The Free Store can help them achieve this goal by not repackaging up the food they donate to the organisation.
- 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. For example, LT Campbell, 128 Tory St are excellent for appliance repairs, and Selwyn Andrews in Kelburn (firstname.lastname@example.org) repairs various stereo items, does PAT testing and iPhone screen replacements, in addition to general appliance repairs, at very competitive rates. If you’d like to try your own hand at repairing your things, consider going along to a Repair or Fix-it Cafe 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 Newtown Tool Library runs these semi-regularly, as does the Carterton Fix It Lab.
- Recycle – 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 Sustainability Trust‘s EcoShop, 2 Forrester’s Lane, Te Aro, Wellington; the Recycle Centre and Second Treasures Shop, at the Wellington Southern Landfill; Trash Palace, Broken Hill Road, Porirua; Earthlink, 25 Peterkin St, Wingate, Lower Hutt; Masterton, Carterton & Martinborough Transfer Stations (these drop-offs are FREE); or Wairarapa Resource Centre, 8 King Street, Masterton. For some of these items, 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. E-waste drop offs for recycling is FREE at the Masterton, Carterton & Martinborough transfer stations.
- Tip Shops/Recycling + Reuse Shops – For all your recycling and reusing needs, look out for reuse shops at local landfills. There’s the Recycle Centre and Second Treasures Shop, at the Wellington Southern Landfill; Trash Palace, Broken Hill Road, Porirua; Earthlink, 25 Peterkin St, Wingate, Lower Hutt; and Wairarapa Resource Centre, 8 King Street, Masterton. If you’ve got a hard-to-recycle item or something that’s still functional but which you no longer want, rather than chucking such things out, take them to one of these reuse shops and see if they’ll accept them. Furthermore, if you’re ever in need of a new one-off purchase – from materials for a home fit-out, cuts of wood, building materials, through to cutlery, appliances, furniture or other knick knacks – consider coming to shop here first, before going to buy something new. You might be amazed by what you find (and the low cost)…
Local Packaging-Free Produce and Creations
- Markets and Farmers’ Markets – there’s nothing like going along to your local market to find packaging-free treasures – be it food (including bread, produce, dairy products, meat and seafood, deli food and preserves), cosmetics, household products or arts and crafts. Shopping local is a great way to reduce waste because the food and goods don’t have to travel long distances and because you can have direct one-on-one conversations with the grower or producer, explaining that you don’t want their beautiful product in a packet, and brainstorming alternatives together (a kind of conversation/collaboration that is very difficult to have with a supermarket!!) For example, even if the seller has already packaged-up the goods, often you can ask to have them transferred to your own bag/container and have the seller keep their bag/container for reuse. Or ask the seller if they ever take back returned empties (whether glass jars for preserves or glass pottles for cosmetics/beauty products) for sterilisation and refill, or 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. Often the answer is yes! If you’re in Wellington, check out the markets at Newtown School on Saturdays, the Habourside market outside Te Papa, or on the corners of Willis, Victoria and Vivian Streets on Sundays. For a smaller range of local, organic produce and artisan products, check out the Thorndon Farmers’ Market (aka Hill Street Farmers’ Market) on Saturday mornings. In the Hutt Valley, visit that the Riverbank Market Lower Hutt, Riverbank Car Park off Rutherford and Daly Streets, Saturday 6am-2pm. Meanwhile, Wairarapa has lots of lovely markets for fresh produce and other specialty items, whether it’s the Featherston Market on a Saturday, Masterton’s Sunday Car Boot Market, Wairarapa Farmers’ Market, 4 Queen St North, Masterton, or Carterton Farmers’ Market on a Sunday at Memorial Square.
- Veggie boxes/co-ops – there are lots of fruit, veg + food co-ops around town from whom you can order your veggies each week. Around the country we’ve found that unless these co-ops have a zero waste policy, the fruit and veg will usually be pre-packed, so it’s essential to contact them before ordering and have a conversation about whether the co-op is willing to use reusable bags for your box, or to leave things unpackaged (you may be the first person who’s ever asked, so always good to plant the seed!). Generally, if it’s a local operation, it should be possible to arrange this. If it’s not possible to arrange, we recommend looking elsewhere or simply getting unpackaged fruit, vege and other staples from markets and other stores. Some box and/or co-op schemes to look at are Wairarapa Eco Farm,the organic Bounty Box by Harriet & George in Linden, or the Dreamcatcher Co-op in Kāpiti.
Zero Waste Information and Support Networks
- Waste-ed – a local social enterprise formed to educate and advocate around waste consciousness in Wellington City. Waste-ed runs heaps of workshops, events, information sessions, and campaigns that provide information and solutions for Wellington’s waste, as well as actions individuals can take to reduce waste in their own lives. Waste-ed also has an online shop selling locally-made products that help with low-waste living (like reusable snack bags, cutlery wallets and beeswax wraps). Check out their website, which has heaps of resources and listings for upcoming waste-related events.
- Zero Waste Wellington, Zero Waste Wairarapa, Waste Free Kapiti Facebook pages/groups – these are great forums for sharing ideas about low-waste living in the local area, seeking tips or recommendations, or staying on top of local activities and actions that you might like to be a part of. Worth signing up to if you are a Facebook user.
- Plastic Free Kāpiti – a Facebook page set up by Paekākāriki local Rachel Benefield who lives plastic free with her family of 5. The page intends to support households and individuals aiming to live without plastic.
- 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 Te Upoko o te Ika is Te Kawa Robb – if you’re keen for some awhi with waste reduction, he’d be stoked to hear from you 🙂
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.
- Tool Libraries – no need for every person and his or her dog to own a set of tools when we can all share them and reduce the over-duplication of resources. There’s a tool library in Newtown, and a tool library in Cannons Creek run by the Cannons Creek Community Pantry.
- Crop Swap – At a crop swap, individuals who have veges or seedlings they’ve grown, preserves or baking they’ve made (or similar), or even home-made knitting/crochet (etc.) crafts (anything made or grown by your hands), come together once a fortnight or once a month, to trade their offerings without any money changing hands – all free! Just bring something to share and let the swapping begin! Trading homegrown or home created goodies with friends and locals means you can avoid all that packaging that often comes with a store setting. You can also have friendly chats about how to share goods without the waste. There’s a monthly crop swap in Wellington at the Newtown Cultural and Community Centre.
- Timebanking – Through timebanking you can share skills and services without the exchange of money, making it a great way to reduce waste on a budget because you can harness skills of creating and repairing that exist in your community (repairing broken clothes or electronics, for example), or having someone pass these skills on to you (how to garden, how to build). Perhaps you have some of these skills already that you could pass on to someone else for time credits? The Wellington Timebank is thriving and well worth getting involved with, if you aren’t already! There are also timebanks in Lower Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt, Wairarapa and one running out of the Common Unity Project Aotearoa in Epuni.
- The Sharing Shelf (outside The Petone Depot, 8/193 Jackson Street, Petone) – a wee shelf where anyone can come down and drop off produce, a book or some other useful item for someone else to take, for free! Likewise, anyone can take something they fancy. You don’t have to drop something off every time you pick something up – there are no formalities. The wonderful art of sharing means that excess produce doesn’t go to waste. Furthermore, items can be shared without excessive amounts of packaging.
Skills and Resourcefulness in Communities
- Community gardens/urban planting – 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 the Greater Wellington Region, including 16 throughout Wellington City, 9 on the Kāpiti Coast, 9 in Lower Hutt, and about 5 in Upper Hutt! Another gem is the Petone Food Gardens Network which is guerilla gardening and planting edible food all around Petone – yay! 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 – there are Menzsheds throughout Wellington 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), 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!
- Common Unity Project Aotearoa, 310 Waiwhetu Road, Epuni, Lower Hutt – the legend of CUPA spreads far and wide. We can say that it certainly goes above and beyond its reputation in real life. Community Unity Project Aotearoa is an absolutely incredible community centre that runs a huge range of projects that achieve many positive social outcomes, but which also advance zero waste ideas. The membership owned, on-site bulk store Common Grocer is a great example. The centre also runs a range of repurposing projects, rescuing materials that might otherwise go to waste and putting it to good use, for example, rescued timber which is available for purchase from the wood workshop for $1 a metre; and the Sew Good project that repurposes waste fabric into all manner of useful items (any person who is running a community project is welcome to come and take fabric from the fabric bank for a koha too). CUPA also raises organic seedlings which are available for purchase and is home to a seedbank, and they take care of a variety of community gardens, harvesting the goods and working with schools to use the produce for kids’ lunches! There’s also a bike workshop on site and a range of repurposed bicycles available for hire (either for koha or for an exchange of volunteering hours) and a sharing shed that will soon be home to things like camping gear that people can borrow (rather than having to buy new equipment). There are a thousand and one other projects that CUPA runs that achieve multiple positive outcomes, bringing the community together, sharing skills, having fun AND reducing waste. No wonder people all over the country are abuzz about this place! Definitely check it out
- The Petone Depot, 8/193 Jackson Street, Petone – an awesome social enterprise in the heart of Petone that’s getting behind some great reducing initiatives, from supporting Boomerang Bags and the Petone Food Gardens Network, to hosting the monthly CreateSpace where locals who are into anything creative (including crafts, growing, repairing, and arts) can get together to share projects, brainstorm new ones, or have a chance to take part in one of the community’s creative projects (including sewing and growing).
- Good House Keeping, 287 Cuba Street, is a great store focused on fostering DIY, mending and repairing. The store stocks all manner of items to help you get good at making and mending, to become more resourceful and chuck less stuff out! They’ve really thought about sustainable options in great detail (even supplying bike oil on tap – so you can refill BYO bottles!) Definitely check this store out next time you’re in town, and have a yarn with the owners Lisa or Mark about their tips for resourceful, sustainable living.
- Mechanical Tempest, 224-234 Riddiford Street, Newtown – got a bike that needs fixing? Found a beat up bike somewhere that looked like it might be get chucked out if not for some TLC? Want to do a bike up to save it from landfill? Have no idea what to do or where to start? Check out Mechanical Tempest – a not-for-profit bike workshop space. Anyone can come and work on their bike here and learn the essential skills for doing so with the support of knowledgeable on-hand volunteers. Sharing tools and a space reduces waste, and getting up to scratch on bike repair techniques will save you money, and potentially also a bike that would otherwise get biffed.
- Vinnies Re Sew, 32 Rongotai Road, Kilbirnie – a textile recycle/upcycling initiative running out of St Vincent De Paul’s in Kilbirnie. Re Sew takes donated clothing which is not good enough to sell from the Vinnies op shops across Wellington and salvages it as fabric and/or upcycles it. Apart from helping to divert tonnes of textiles from landfill, the programme also provides a place for anyone to come to learn how to sew or to hang out and be creative or to develop work training opportunities.
- Pins ‘N’ Needles, 6 Perry Street, Masterton – got some broken clothes but not sure how to repair them? Bring them into Linda at Pins n Needles for repairing! Not only will your clothes be as good as new, but any waste fabric from the fixing process, Linda will upcycle into a new creation – thus reducing as much textile waste from landfill as possible. Awesome! You can even check out the store to buy upcycled clothing instead of buying new or even secondhand – the clothes Linda makes for children are just divine! If you’re keen to repair your clothes yourself but just need a bit advice, drop in to Pins n Needles because Linda will surely be able to point you in the right direction 🙂
- Resilient Carterton – a fabulous umbrella organisation bringing together groups and people that are taking actions that improve resilience in the Carterton community. By and large, a more resilient, self-sufficient community with a thriving local economy is a less wasteful community that is more resourceful and less dependent on imports of packaged goods and cheap throwaways. Have a look at some of the groups, individuals and projects that Resilient Carterton is supporting and promoting.
- Sewing, crafts, knitting, crochet – We’re of the view that sewing, crafts, knitting and crochet are all key skills for combating waste in our lives (whether it’s the ability to make your own produce bags and beeswax wraps, knit a dishcloth, or repair broken clothes). In Greater Wellington you can find great organisations where you can get involved to either learn or pass on those skills, complete community sewing projects, attend workshops, or simply complete your own sewing projects in the company of others. Great examples are the Sew Good Cooperative at the Common Unity Project Aotearoa, 310 Waiwhetu Road, Epuni, Lower Hutt or Vinnies Re Sew in Wellington City. Thimbles and Threads, 84 Main Street, Upper Hutt also runs lots of affordable sewing classes and is generally very supportive of low-waste, upcycling fabric initiatives! Joining a group that is sewing reusable bags to give out to the community is also 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). For example, check out your local Boomerang Bags group – there are branches in Wellington City, Petone, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Featherston, and Martinborough.