This guide covers Waitaki District only. For other parts of the Otago Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in Otago homepage.
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.
FOOD OPTIONS (I.E. STORES THAT OFFER LOOSE ITEMS WHICH YOU CAN PUT, UNPACKAGED, INTO YOUR OWN BYO BAGS/CONTAINERS)
- The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru – this store offers a wide array of dried food in bulk/unpackaged (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, legumes, flours, dried fruit and pasta), a range of spices, sweets, treats and snacks, and liquid foods like vinegars, oils, honey, syrups etc. They also have a peanut butter extruder, just BYO jar!
- New World Northside, 402 Thames Hwy, Oamaru North and New World Oamaru, 70-72 Wansbeck Street, Oamaru – both have the usual expensive bulk aisle for dried foods. Both stores also stock unpackaged bread and bakery goods (just BYO bags).
- Campbell’s Butchery, 160 Thames Street, Oamaru – this butcher is happy to put unpackaged cuts of meat into BYO containers so you can avoid the plastic wrap.
- Whitestone Cheese, 3 Torridge Street, Oamaru – while most of their cheeses are pre-wrapped, they usually slice up fresh wheels throughout the day. So if you want to get their cheese unpackaged, you’ll have to be flexible and willing to take whatever is being cut fresh at the time. Don’t forget to BYO container/beeswax wrap!
- Vinbrux Bakery, 36B Arun Street, South Hill, Oamaru – sells amazingly good, freshly baked, artisan (and unpackaged) sourdough bread and other bakery goods (just BYO bags!)
- Moa Bakery, Cakery, 26 Arun Street, Oamaru – sells delicious and affordable allergy friendly lunches, sweets, cookies, cakes, biscuits, and breads unpackaged (BYO bags/containers). The physical store is only open Thursday and Friday, but they’re at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market on Sunday too.
- Harbour Street Bakery, 4 Harbour Street, Oamaru – sells excellent fresh and unpackaged artisan bread and bakery goods (just BYO bags)
- Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru – sells unpackaged bread from the Riverstone Kitchen (BYO bags), and you can also get refills of Antipode extra virgin olive oil on tap.
- Jessie Roberts Store, 4 Itchen Street, Oamaru – sells unpackaged sweets (byo bags/containers)
- Trade Aid Oamaru, 169 Thames Street, Oamaru – Trade Aid‘s entire chocolate range comes in Econic home compostable packaging! Their 2kg sugar bags are also great for upcycling as bulk bin bags, and are home 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.
- Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru – stocks Trade Aid sugar and chocolate (which both come in home compostable packaging). They also stock bulk dried organic goods. However,they are not keen on the idea of bulk bins or repacking customers’ own bags/containers… yet! We encourage locals to ask, ask, ask Brydone Wholefoods Store to provide low-waste options for their bulk goods – there are so many ways of doing it there will surely be one that suits the owners of this store.
- Oamaru Farmers’ Market, corner of Wansbeck and Tyne Streets (next to Scott’s Brewery) – there’s nothing like going along to your local market to find packaging-free food (and also all kinds of other local creations). Shopping local is a great way to reduce waste because the food and goods don’t have to be packed up for travelling 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, and you’ll also find that there are plenty of farmers and producers in around Oamaru already doing this! For example, check out Rasberry Cottage‘s stall, who really encourage people to either return packaging to them so they can reuse it, or BYO bags/containers (they’ll tip their pottles of berries into your own containers and keep theirs for reuse).
- Four Square Omarama, 10 Chain Hills Highway, Omarama – sells sweets and savoury snacks in bulk bins (byo bags).
- Milk – Your best bet for getting low-waste milk is to get Holy Cow milk in reusable glass bottles from Vinbrux Bakery, 36B Arun Street, South Hill, Oamaru. Holy Cow uses glass milk bottles which you bring back when empty for sterilisation and reuse. So, when you buy your first bottle, you pay slightly more to cover the deposit on your bottles. When you’ve finished the milk, return the empty bottles and labels clean and you can either have your deposit refunded or just buy your next bottle of fresh milk (at a lower price the second time). If you’re into non-dairy milk and want to avoid non-recyclable TetraPaks, check out Nourish Me Almond Milk which you can buy in reusable glass bottles at Moa Bakery, 26 Arun Street, and the Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru. Simply return your glass bottles when they’re empty and Nourish Me will take them back for sterilisation and reuse/refill.
- 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. You can find loose/unpackaged coffee beans (and a grinder) at Steam Cafe (who roast their own beans), 7 Thames street. They will happily put fresh beans/grinds straight into your BYO bag/container. You can also get unpackaged coffee beans/grinds at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru. If you’re into instant coffee, The Real Food Pantry also stocks unpackaged instant coffee or else go for Trade Aid‘s instant coffee which comes in Econic‘s home compostable packaging (find this at the Trade Aid store at (169 Thames Street, Oamaru).
- Tea – most tea bags have plastic in them, so we encourage people to drink loose leaf teas. We’re always on the lookout for loose leaf teas that you can get unpackaged. Unfortunately, the only loose leaf options in Waitaki district are packaged ones (although we’ve heard you can get unpackaged samples of loose leaf tea from the Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru. You can get unpackaged gumboot tea bags from The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru, but there may well be plastic in the tea bags…
- Beer – look out for places that sell beer on tap and BYO bottles/flagons to fill up. In Oamaru, you can get locally brewed craft beer n BYO riggers at Scotts Brewing Co., 1 Wansbeck Street. For other beer, Super Liquor at 245 Thames Street sells Speights, DB, Emerson’s, Export Gold and Castlepoint Draught on tap, or else try Liquorland at 261 Thames Street for Speights, DB and Wild Buck on tap – just bring your own riggers in for refill. In Omarama, BYO rigger for any beer sold on tap at the bar at Boots & Jandals Hotel, 1 Chain Hills Highway.
- Drinking Chocolate – find unpackaged at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru.
KITCHEN/FOOD PACKAGING ALTERNATIVES
Reusable drinking vessels (cups and water bottles)
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/containers
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.
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 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.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Reusable sandwich bags – find the Munch brand reusable sandwich wraps at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru.
- Beeswax wrap – find at Riverstone Kitchen, 1431 SH 1 (north of Oamaru) (Bee Covered and Lily Bee Wrap brands), Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru, Tangibles, 207 Thames Street, Oamaru (Honeywrap brand), and Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru (Bee Wrapt brand). NOTE: making your own beeswax wrap is much cheaper than buying it pre-made. To make it yourself you need to get natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. TOTE – The Oamaru Textile Emporium, 13 Tyne Street, Wisteria Cottage, 245 Pukeuri – Oamaru Road, Oamaru, and The Quilting Shed, 140 King Road, Awamoko are all great spots to get offcuts/discounted cotton fabric with pretty patterns. You can get unpackaged beeswax at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru (you just have to ask for it!).
- Silicone pot/bowl covers – 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. Find at Inspirationz Gifts, 63 Thames Street, Oamaru.
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. New World Oamaru, 70-72 Wansbeck Street, stocks the Budget brand 100% cotton dishcloth.
- New World Oamaru, 70-72 Wansbeck Street, Oamaru – stocks Eco Planet laundry powder (which comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining!)
- Home Gallery, 16/14 Harbour Street, Oamaru – stocks bars of Dr Bronner’s castille soap which you can use as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here).
- The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru – stocks a range of both powdered cleaning products in bulk, including Epsom salts, borax, laundry powder, dishwash powder, nappy wash, washing soda and soda ash. Also stocks a wide range of both liquid cleaning products/ingredients you can fill your own bottles and containers with.
- Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru – sells Go Bamboo pegs made from bamboo with a metal spring mechanism.
- Waitaki Traders, 166 Thames Street, Oamaru – we found old school wooden pegs sold here for $1 each!
- Low Waste Dental Care – 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.
- Unpackaged bars of Soap – you’ll find many different types of unpackaged soap bars at the Riverstone Kitchen‘s gift shop, 1431 SH 1 (north of Oamaru); NZ Soap Star, inside Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street, Oamaru; Lavish Soap, 9 Harbour Street, Oamaru; Inspirationz Gifts, 63 Thames Street, Oamaru; Tangibles, 207 Thames Street, Oamaru; and you’ll find locally made Honey and Spice soaps at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru, or at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market, corner of Wansbeck and Tyne Streets (next to Scott’s Brewery).
- 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! You can get lovely and locally made bars for different purposes, including shampoo and deodorant, from NZ Soap Star from inside Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street, and also Honey and Spice soaps from Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru or at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market, corner of Wansbeck and Tyne Streets (next to Scott’s Brewery). Both of these local companies have online shops from which you can order their products. You can also get the popular Ethique range of soap bars from Paper Plus Oamaru, 181 Thames Street (all of Ethique‘s bars come in home compostable packaging and the range includes shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, moisturiser, shaving bars etc.)
- Menstrual Cups/Washable Pads – these 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.
- Other – you can get essential oils refilled at NZ Soap Star, Inside Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street, Oamaru – yus! Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru also sells Greencane toilet paper, which is wrapped in home-compostable packaging, and Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds. You can get unpackaged beeswax for homemade cosmetics at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru (you just have to ask for it!). For new parents, the Waitaki District Council subsidises cloth nappy starter packs, meaning you can get a pack worth $100 for only $20. For more information, see here.
COMMUNITY GROUPS, SUPPORTIVE NETWORKS, AND HELP WITH TRICKY WASTE STREAMS
- 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 haven’t yet got a system for dealing with your food waste and are not sure where to start, you could ask a neighbour or friend to help you set up a compost, or you might want to purchase a worm farm or bokashi bin. You could also take your food scraps up to the Waitaki Community Gardens (Chelmer Street) for composting (no meat or cooked food though!) or visit during a working bee to learn how to set up your own compost. Don’t forget about greenwaste too, which also doesn’t belong in landfill. You can drop greenwaste off at Waitaki Resource Recovery Park for a small fee, where it will be mulched and then sold back to the community.
- E-waste – electronic waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, with huge environmental implications because of the toxins this waste leaches, 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 – perhaps ask if a centre near you might be interested in running a session). If your electronics really have given up the ghost, rather than chucking them out, take them to the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park (Oamaru) or Waihemo Wastebusters (Palmerston) for recycling and safe disposal (a small fee may be payable for the processing of the electronics for recycling).
- Waihemo Wastebusters (27 Tiverton Street, Palmerston) & Waitaki Resource Recovery Park (Oamaru) – For all your recycling and reusing needs, check out these two resource recovery parks and their attached re-use shops, which are a treasure trove for pre-loved items and other useful bits and bobs. If you ever need building materials, or a household appliance, crockery, cutlery, furniture or other knick-knack, we recommend checking out these two re-use shops (or, for that matter, any other secondhand store) to see if you can find what you’re looking for there first, before resorting to brand new items.
- Waitaki Community Gardens (off Chelmer Street, Oamaru) – 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. The Waitaki Community Gardens totally rock – well worth being involved with! It’s not only full of delicious fruit and veg, it’s also visually beautiful, has a monthly wood-fired pizza night, and is just all round awesome. 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.
- Toy Libraries – reduce the wasteful over-consumption of toys and save money by joining a toy library! The North Otago Toy Library is an excellent toy library right in the centre of town in Oamaru at 109 Thames Street. This toy library also accepts good quality second hand toy donations for the library, which further reduces the amount of toys going to landfill.
- Menzshed – 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. There’s a Menzshed group in Oamaru at the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park.
- TOTE – The Oamaru Textile Emporium, 13 Tyne Street, Oamaru – 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). The Oamaru Textile Emporium is a wonderful store with space in it for anyone to come along and start/complete a craft project. There’ll almost certainly be someone there working on something too, and you can learn and share together in a friendly, hands-on manner. When we visited, in the space of 15 minutes we ended up learning all about felting, as well as a new crochet technique!