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 south going northwards (roughly!), so starting with Te Awamutu and moving up to Te Aroha.
NB: All our regional guides cover as many low-waste options as we could find for food, drink, kitchen and food packaging, cleaning products and bathroom products – scroll down to view each category. At the end of each district section, we also list community groups, council services and ideas for tricky waste streams in each district, so make sure you read down to that part too!
FOOD OPTIONS (I.E. THAT OFFER LOOSE ITEMS WHICH YOU CAN PUT, UNPACKAGED, INTO YOUR OWN BYO BAGS/CONTAINERS)
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. Here, we list shops that stock all manner of pantry foods loose in bulk bins (or which at least have an option for you to avoid unnecessary packaging), so that you can put these ingredients straight into your own bags, jars, containers and bottles, and skip the 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!
- RedBerry Supermarket, 130 Broadway, Matamata – stocks a range of dried legumes, and also semolina and rice flakes in bulk bins.
- Healthy Refill, 66a Arawa Street, Matamata – a small bulk/wholefoods store that looks a lot like a Bin Inn, except… there are no bulk bins!! Unfortunately, they prepackage everything here into plastic bags. Only product you can get without packaging is peanut butter from their extruder, just BYO jar.
- 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!
- 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!).
Places that sell unpackaged meat, sausages, meat products, seafood, cheese and/or deli foods who will happily put your unwrapped purchases straight into a BYO container – woohoo!
- Wholly Cow Butchery, 47 Victoria Street, Cambridge – happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat from the deli straight into BYO bags/containers.
- Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge – you can get cuts of cheese off the round here, put into BYO bags/containers.
- Over the Moon, 70 Victoria Street, Cambridge – a few deli foods like olives and sundried tomatoes unpackaged.
- Matamata Butchery, 151 Firth Street, Matamata
- Unpackaged live mussels – there are a number of stores 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 Cambridge, 14 Anzac Street, Cambridge; New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata;
The following stores bake and sell unpackaged bread and bakery goods (some things in some of these stores might be pre-packed or wrapped in cling film, just avoid those things!). So all you need to do is BYO 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 early enough before they do that (i.e. before 1pm).
- Panache French Bakery, 60 Victoria Street, Cambridge
- Volare, 27 Empire Street, Cambridge
- Cambridge Bakery, 35 Duke Street, Cambridge
- Bakehouse Cafe, 53 Broadway, Matamata
- Quality Inn Bakery, 38 Arawa Street, Matamata
Markets and other low-waste goodies you might not have thought of
- 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.
- 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.
- Unpackaged chocolate/truffles/fudge/sweets – a few shops have sweet treats unpackaged that you can have put into your own containers:
- Other pre-made food in home compostable packaging – Loving Earth raw chocolate (which comes in Econic home compostable packaging) is sold at Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge; Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge; FreshChoice Leamington, 46 Burns Street, Cambridge; New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata. Ceres Organics’ RAW/Raw Goodness bars are also sold at Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge; New World Matamata; and Villa Nine – Organic Health Shop, 9 Lawrence Avenue, Te Aroha
- Coffee – wherever possible, we encourage people to find places that sell whole or ground coffee beans unpackaged and have them put in BYO bags/containers. Coffee roasters are a great place to start – you can get locally roasted Essenza coffee in your own jar (or in a resuable/refillable coffee tin) at Rouge Cafe, 11 Empire Street, Cambridge; and Tika Cafe, 59 Arawa Street, Matamata. We also saw loose coffee beans for sale at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu; and Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge. 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 HumpBridge Milk, 161 Pokuru Road, just south of Te Awamutu; and 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. The only place we’ve found so far offering this option is Good Union, 98 Victoria Street, Cambridge (you might have to use one of their bottles/flagons as the Good George beer they sell comes in particular sizes).
- Drinking chocolate – get drinking chocolate and cocoa powder in bulk at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu. Alternatively, Kōkako drinking chocolate comes in Econic home compostable packaging and you can find it at New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata.
- Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge – this great little juice bar operates a glass bottle return system for their juices and their mylks, so that the bottles can be sterilised and reused in store. Each time you bring a bottle back you get a stamp, and with 10 stamps you get a free juice or mylk.
KITCHEN/FOOD PACKAGING ALTERNATIVES
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Ash Store/The Colab Store, 45 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu; Red Kitchen, 51 Mahoe Street, Te Awamutu; Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge (metal); Fox & Co., 9 Albert Street, Cambridge; Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge; Rumour, corner of Duke and Victoria Streets, Cambridge; Kodak & Black, 58 Arawa Street, Matamata; and Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata (metal).
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Tauranga:
- Find the Keep Cup brand at Walton Street Coffee & Creative, 3 Walton Street, Te Awamutu; Crave, 24a Empire Street, Cambridge; Volare, 27 Empire Street, Cambridge; Rouge Cafe, 7 Empire Street, Cambridge; Paddock, 48 Victoria Street, Cambridge; Tika Cafe, 59 Arawa Street, Matamata;
- The NZ-made Cuppa Coffee Cup at Inspired by 2 Florist, 63 Victoria Street, Cambridge; The Coffee Gallery, 101 Broadway, Matamata
- You can get glass Joco Cups at Red Kitchen, 51 Mahoe Street, Te Awamutu
- The innovative Frank Green cups are sold at Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge
- Stainless steel travel cups and ceramic cups by Avanti GoCup, as well as Oasis Eco Cup, are available at Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata. Oasis cups are also sold at Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge
- Other brands are available at The Mirrorbox, 51 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu and Strawbridge, 319 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu
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 bags by Nil at Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge; ones by Purely Natural at FreshChoice Leamington, 46 Burns Street, Cambridge; and ones by The Swag at ILuv Asian Store, 87 Arawa Street, Matamata. Rethink 100% organic cotton bags are sold at New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata. Also, Cambridge Fresh Vege, 35 Victoria Street, Cambridge and Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge both stock locally made produce bags out of second hand nets/fabric off-cuts by Plastic Bag Free/Boomerang Bags Cambridge.
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 Ash Store/The Colab Store, 45 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu; Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge; Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata;
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap – available at Red Kitchen, 51 Mahoe Street, Te Awamutu; Hansen Honey, 700 Franklin Street, Pirongia; Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge; Dante’s Fine Foods, 61 Duke St, Cambridge; Comins Pharmacy, 67 Victoria Street, Cambridge; The Coffee Gallery, 101 Broadway, Matamata (locally made by Kauri); Wild Rose Interiors, 72 Arawa Street, Matamata (plastic wrapped); and Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata. However, it’s much cheaper to make your own beeswax wraps! You can get fabric offcuts and fat quarters from Patchworkweb, 83 Arawa Street, Matamata. Unpackaged beeswax is available at Hansen Honey, 700 Franklin Street, Pirongia
- Reusable sandwich bags – Elephant Ollie, 4 Empire Street, Cambridge stocks their own brand of lunch pouches, as well as ones made by Munch; you can get Sachi lunch pockets at Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata.
- 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 Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge; and Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata.
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu; Hus Design Store, 20 Empire Street, Cambridge; Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge
You can also get handleless natural fibre veggie brushes (that can make good dish scrubbers) at Fox & Co., 9 Albert Street, Cambridge; Hus Design Store, 20 Empire Street, Cambridge; Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge
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) which are available at Red Kitchen, 51 Mahoe Street, Te Awamutu; Fox & Co., 9 Albert Street, Cambridge; Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge
- Nawrap Japanese made natural fibre blend dishcloths are sold at Fox & Co., 9 Albert Street, Cambridge
- RedBerry Supermarket, 130 Broadway, Matamata stocks cheap 100% cotton dishcloths (they have a muslin type weave).
- Fancy Bianca Lorenne or Wallace Cotton 100% cotton cloths are available at Simply Divine Kitchen, 5 Empire Street, Cambridge; Wallace Cotton, 16 Empire Street, Cambridge; and Wild Rose Interiors, 72 Arawa Street, Matamata.
- 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.
- There are various brands that sell soapnuts, a nut/berry that has cleaning properties and can be composted once used up. Soapnuts NZ soapnuts come in a cardboard box with no plastic lining, which you can get at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu. You can also get That Red House soapberries, which come in a brown paper bag inside a cotton bag, at ILuv Asian Store, 87 Arawa Street, Matamata. Forget Me Not Florist, 50 Arawa Street, Matamata stocks soapnuts in cotton bags.
- Eco Planet laundry powder comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining! You can get it from New World Cambridge, 14 Anzac Street, Cambridge; New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata.
- Ingredients for DIY cleaning products
- Baking soda – available unpackaged in bulk bins at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu.
- Bars of castile soap, which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here) – get the Dr Bronner’s brand at Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu
- Alternatives to plastic clothes pegs – Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge; New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata.
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 Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu; Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge; The Little Flower Shop, 88 Duke Street, Cambridge; Health 2000, 70A Victoria Street, Cambridge (Mama Bear brand); Four Square Shakespeare Street, 173 Shakespeare Street, Cambridge; New World Matamata, 45 Waharoa Road East, Matamata (you’ll find these in the ‘organic’ section of the supermarket, not with the other toothbrushes… *sigh*); and Villa Nine – Organic Health Shop, 9 Lawrence Avenue, Te Aroha.
Unpackaged Bars of Soap
It’s easy to get soap without packaging in these districts. The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap:
- Strawbridge, 319 Alexandra St, Te Awamutu
- Walton Street Coffee & Creative, 3 Walton Street, Te Awamutu
- Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu
- Health 2000, 70A Victoria Street, Cambridge
- Wayne’s, 66 Victoria Street, Cambridge
- Gifted, 34 Arawa Street, Matamata
- Joe’s Health Foods, 225 Thames Street, Morrinsville
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!
- 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), is available at Unichem Cambridge Pharmacy, 52 Victoria Street, Cambridge
- Wouldn’t Know ‘Em From a Bar of Soap Co – is 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. Get it from Walton Street Coffee & Creative, 3 Walton Street, Te Awamutu.
- Valor shaving soap (in cardboard) is sold at Hus Design Store, 20 Empire Street, Cambridge; Wayne’s, 66 Victoria Street, Cambridge also stocks Global Soap 3-in-1 shower/shampoo/shaving bars
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 razors, blades, shaving brushes AND Global Soap shower/shampoo/shaving bars at Wayne’s, 66 Victoria Street, Cambridge. You can get just shaving brushes at Hus Design Store, 20 Empire Street, Cambridge (and shaving soap bars to go with it); Leven, 33 Empire Street, Cambridge; Life Pharmacy Matamata, 54 Arawa Street, Matamata.
Reusable Menstrual Products
- Menstrual cups – available at FreshChoice Leamington, 46 Burns Street, Cambridge; Unichem Leamington Pharmacy, 129 Shakespeare Street, Cambridge
- Cotton Buds – Go Bamboo makes home compostable buds so you can avoid the single-use, unrecyclable plastic ones. Get them from Bin Inn Te Awamutu, 170/13 George Street, Te Awamutu; Forage, 21 Empire Street, Cambridge; and Villa Nine – Organic Health Shop, 9 Lawrence Avenue, Te Aroha.
Tricky things, 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.