This guide covers Waitaki District only. For other parts of the Otago Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in Otago 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!
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 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).
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. Often the answer is yes! Check out Oamaru Farmers’ Market, corner of Wansbeck and Tyne Streets (next to Scott’s Brewery).
Trade Aid – Trade Aid‘s 1.5kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home compostable when 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. You can get these products at Trade Aid Oamaru, 169 Thames Street, Oamaru. Just the sugar is available at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru.
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:
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:
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:
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).
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Find Keep Cup reusable takeaway coffee cups at Riverstone Kitchen, 1431 SH 1 (north of Oamaru) and in Oamaru at Moa Bakery, 26 Arun Street, Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street, and Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street. You can find Cuppa Coffee Cups at Presence on Harbour St, 1 Harbour Street, and Tangibles, 207 Thames Street in Oamaru, or at GlenCraig’s Clothing, 6 Chain Hills Highway in Omarama (also stocks Pukka Bamboo Cups). Get reusable metal water bottles at Moa Bakery, 26 Arun Street, Oamaru.
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. Presence on Harbour St, 1 Harbour Street, Oamaru stocks Gentlemen’s Hardware aluminium lunch tins.
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 get yourself reusables at Housekeepers Design, 18 Harbour Street, Oamaru, which stocks Uashmama washable paper bags, and Presence on Harbour St, 1 Harbour Street, Oamaru, which sells organic cotton grocery bags.
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 Riverstone Kitchen, 1431 SH 1 (north of Oamaru) and Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru. You can also find reusable glass straws at Moa Bakery, 26 Arun Street, Oamaru, or at their stall at the farmers’ market.
The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers!
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and home compostable heads, as well as Go Bamboo home compostable veggie brushes (which can be used as a handle-less dishbrush), at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru.
We also encourage people to move away from using dishcloths, sponges and bench wipes made out of synthetic material (as these leach plastic microfibres and they’re also destined for landfill when they wear down) and to use natural fibre cloths instead. You can get 100% cotton knitted dishcloths at Enhance, 125 Thames Street, and Nanna Bangles, 4b Harbour Street, Oamaru. There are also bamboo/cotton blend dishcloths at TOTE – The Oamaru Textile Emporium, 13 Tyne Street, Oamaru.
Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic toothbrushes because they have wooden, home compostable handles (though the bristles are still plastic and need to be removed from the handle and put in your rubbish bin). You can get the Humble Brush brand at Nanna Bangles, 4b Harbour Street, Oamaru; and North Otago Pharmacy, 213-215 Thames Street, Oamaru. Go Bamboo toothbrushes can be found at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru. The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, and Cooper & Hunt Dental Care, 4 Frome Street, in Oamaru also stock bamboo toothbrushes.
There are many places in Waitaki District where you can unpackaged bars of soap:
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!
There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. You can buy menstrual cups at North Otago Pharmacy, 213-215 Thames Street, Oamaru.