This guide covers Waipa and Matamata-Piako districts only. For other districts in the Waikato Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in the Waikato Region post.
Stores have been listed from the north going southwards (roughly!) So starting with Te Aroha, and moving down to Te Awamutu.
Food options (i.e. stores that offer loose items which you can put, unpackaged, into your own BYO bags/containers)
- Villa Nine – Organic Health Shop, 9 Lawrence Avenue, Te Aroha – stocks a range of bulk dried foods, from legumes, nuts, seeds and dried fruit, through to grains and flours. In the shop front all these items are already repackaged, but the storekeepers are happy to fill BYO bags and containers out back if you ask (try and do this outside of lunchtime hours as the store is also a thriving cafe!) The store also stocks Loving Earth chocolate, which comes in home compostable packaging.
- Joe’s Health Foods, 225 Thames Street, Morrinsville – this store stocks an impressive range of dried food in bulk bins, including grains, flours, legumes, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. However, the owner didn’t seem too keen on the idea of people bringing BYO bags to fill up, so it might be worth more locals broaching the issue!
- Forget me not Florist, 50 Arawa Street, Matamata – locally-made, unpackaged fudge – just BYO container!
- Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge – you can get cuts of cheese off the round here, put into BYO bags/containers.
- Wholly Cow Butchery, 47 Victoria Street, Cambridge – happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat from the deli straight into BYO bags/containers.
- Victoria Station, 55 Victoria Street, Cambridge – stocks loose/unpackaged sweets + fudge which you can have put in BYO bags/containers.
- Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge – stocks Loving Earth chocolate, which comes in home compostable packaging.
- Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk (including, but not limited to, legumes, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, flours, sugars and pasta), a range of spices, liquid foods (including oils, syrups and a wide array of vinegars), 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 extruder, just BYO jar! All Bin Inn stores around New Zealand are currently offering 5% discount when you bring your own containers! The Bin Inn in Te Awamutu is also phasing out the plastic bags most Bin Inns offer for people to put their bulk product into and instead will be offering paper bags – yay!
- Trade Aid Te Awamutu, 41 Alexandra Street, Te Awamutu – Trade Aid’s entire chocolate range comes in Econic packaging that is compostable in a home compost! Their 2kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are compostable also. Trade Aid’s coconut oil is one of the few on the market that does not have a plastic seal around the lid.
- Markets! – there’s nothing like going along to your local market to find packaging-free food. Shopping local is a great way to reduce waste because the food and goods don’t have to travel long distances and because you can have direct one-on-one conversations with the grower or producer, explaining that you don’t want their beautiful product in a packet, and brainstorming alternatives together (a kind of conversation/collaboration that is very difficult to have with a supermarket!!). For example, even if the seller has already packaged-up the goods, often you can ask to have them transferred to your own bag/container and have the seller keep their bag/container for reuse. Or ask the seller if they ever take back returned empties (whether glass jars for preserves or glass pottles for cosmetics/beauty products) for sterilisation and refill. Often the answer is yes! For your local, check out Cambridge Farmers’ Market, Victoria Square, Cambridge, every Saturday from 8am-noon.
- Coffee – look out for loose coffee beans/grinds that you can put in a BYO bag/container. We saw loose coffee beans at Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge; and Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu. If you’re into instant coffee, Trade Aid’s instant coffee comes in Econic’s home compostable packaging (you can find it at Trade Aid Te Awamutu, 41 Alexandra Street, Te Awamutu).
- Milk – you can get raw milk in reusable/refillable glass bottles from a self-serve vending machine at Alexander Organics, 133 Flume Road, Cambridge.
- Beer – we recommend looking out for places that sell beer on tap, where you can fill up a BYO flagon/bottle. One place we found offering this option was Liquorland Cambridge, 26 Victoria Street, Cambridge.
Kitchen/food packaging alternatives
- Roberto’s, 59 Broadway, Matamata – stocks beeswax wraps and silicone pot/bowl covers (an alternative to tin foil and plastic cling wrap)
- Walker and Co, 109 Broadway, Matamata – stocks silicone pot/bowl covers (an alternative to tin foil and plastic cling wrap), Zuperzozial reusable takeaway coffee cups, and steel reusable water bottles.
- Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata – stocks ceramic reusable takeaway coffee cups, reusable drink bottles, and silicone pot/bowl covers (an alternative to tin foil and plastic cling wrap).
- Wild Rose Interiors, 72 Arawa Street, Matamata – stocks cotton cloths that can be used as dishcloths.
- Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge – stocks silicone pot/bowl covers (an alternative to tin foil and plastic cling wrap) and cotton washcloths that could be used as dishcloths.
- Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge – stocks beeswax wraps, Frank Green reusable takeaway coffee cups, reusable metal water bottles.
- Hus Design Store, 20 Empire Street, Cambridge – stocks wooden dishbrushes with replaceable, home compostable heads.
- Cambridge Fresh Vege, 35 Victoria Street, Cambridge – here you can get reusable fabric produce bags (locally made out of second hand nets/fabric off-cuts by Plastic Bag Free Cambridge) for the low price of $2 each!
- Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge – stocks reusable metal straws and $2 reusable fabric produce bags (locally made out of second hand nets/fabric off-cuts by Plastic Bag Free Cambridge)!
- Hansen Honey, 700 Franklin Street, Pirongia – stocks beeswax wrap as well as unpackaged beeswax which you can use to make your own beeswax wraps!
- Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu – stocks wooden dishbrushes with replaceable, home compostable heads.
- Walton Street Coffee & Creative, 3 Walton Street, Te Awamutu – stocks Keep Cup (reusable takeaway coffee cups).
- Ash Store/The Colab Store, 45 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu – stocks reusable metal straws and reusable water bottles.
- The Mirrorbox, 51 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu – stocks reusable takeaway coffee cups.
- Strawbridge, 319 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu – stocks reusable takeaway coffee cups
- Red Kitchen, 51 Mahoe Street, Te Awamutu – stocks Wet-It! spongey dishcloths that are 100% cellulose and cotton (so they’re home compostable at the end of their life), beeswax wraps, reusable water bottles and JOCO Cups (reusable glass takeaway coffee cups).
- Forget me not Florist, 50 Arawa Street, Matamata – stocks soapnuts in cloth bags.
- Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu – stock a wide range of both liquid and powdered cleaning products/ingredients you can fill your own bottles and containers with, including refills of Ecostore cleaning products. Also stocks bars of Dr. Bronner’s castille soap, which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid, and Soapnuts NZ, which come in a cardboard box with no plastic inner lining.
- Villa Nine – Organic Health Shop, 9 Lawrence Avenue, Te Aroha – stocks toothbrushes with wooden, home compostable handles, and home compostable cotton buds.
- Joe’s Health Foods, 225 Thames Street, Morrinsville – stocks unpackaged bars of soap.
- Health 2000, 39 Arawa Street, Matamata – stocks unpackaged bars of soap.
- Health 2000, 70A Victoria Street, Cambridge – stocks Mama Bear toothbrushes with wooden, home compostable handles, and unpackaged bars of soap.
- The Little Flower Shop, 88 Duke Street, Cambridge – stocks toothbrushes with wooden, home compostable handles
- Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu – stocks unpackaged bars of soap, and Go Bamboo toothbrushes with wooden, home compostable handles, and home compostable cotton buds.
- Walton Street Coffee & Creative, 3 Walton Street, Te Awamutu – stocks Wouldn’t Know ‘Em From a Bar of Soap Co – a line of sustainably packaged soap bars made for various applications – from hand and body soap to shaving bars and shampoo. Locally-made in Waikato and great for avoiding those pesky plastic bottles!
- Strawbridge, 319 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu – stocks unpackaged bars of soap.
Community groups and supportive networks
- Waipa District Council is keen to reduce the district’s waste. Its website offers tips for waste minimisation. The Council also intermittently offers free workshops on composting and worm-farming – so keep an eye out!
- The Sharing Shed, Anzac Green, Te Awamutu – a truly wonderful gem in the centre of Te Awamutu, started by Shaun and Sarah O’Dea. Standing in Anzac Green all day, everyday, the idea is that anyone can come down and drop off either produce or a book 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. The Sharing Shed is also collaborating with local group Snip & Tuck Ltd to sew reusable alternatives to plastic shopping bags – yay! If you’d like to be involved, look out for their sewing bee ‘Share ‘n Sew’ events, which anyone is free to attend. We loved The Sharing Shed and think that every community across New Zealand should have one!
- Plastic Bag Free Cambridge – a local Cambridge group striving to rid Cambridge of plastic bags. You can find permanent bag stands for their locally-sewn reusable shopping bags at Cambridge New World, Leamington Fresh Choice Supermarket, and outside Wholly Cow.) You can even find their affordable handmade fabric alternatives to plastic produce bags (made from second hand net) in Cambridge Vege Fresh, 35 Victoria Street, Cambridge and Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge.
- Cambridge Community Garden, 2a Vogel Street, Cambridge – growing your own food is an excellent way to get food without packaging. Community gardens help people to learn how to grow food, and also to compost/worm farm, and you can take home some of the goodies too! There are community gardens across NZ that anyone can be a part of, and there’s a beautiful one in Cambridge – this garden evens distributes excess produce to those in need, wow! – if you’re local, check it out!
- Crop Swap Cambridge, Cambridge Community Garden, 2a Vogel Street, 4th Saturday of the month, 1pm – Crop Swaps are taking NZ by storm and there’s one in Cambridge, yus! 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.
- Lions Trash ‘n’ Treasure Market, Cambridge CBD, 8am-1pm, 2nd Sunday of the Month – get a wide array of pre-loved or handmade products, produce and plants at this monthly market.
- The Repair Co-op Cambridge, Meraki Workspace, 32 Victoria Street, Cambridge, 2nd Sunday of the Month – electronics are NZ’s fastest growing waste stream – household goods can break easily and then we can be hesitant to repair them because we don’t know how or because it seems too expensive to get them fixed. Enter The Repair Co-op Cambridge, a group that is passionate about helping people to repair their valued possessions. On the 2nd Sunday of every month (i.e. the day of the Trash ‘n’ Treasure Market), find them in the Meraki Workspace, helping people fix broken electronics and machines – so if you’ve got some broken equipment, rather than biffing it out, bring it along to the workspace and you’ll receive tips and pointers for self-repair. Yay! The group is also always looking for handy people who know how to fix things to come and help out, or share tools and other equipment.