Zero Waste in Waitaki District

Zero Waste in Waitaki District

This guide covers Waitaki District only. For other parts of the Otago Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in Otago homepage.


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Our heartfelt gratitude to Sugarcube Studios, the creators of EcoSpot, for bringing our guides to life – designing a map for us and creating such joyful imagery to go with it!


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 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!
  • Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru – sells refills of Antipode extra virgin olive oil on tap (BYO bottles!)
  • Jessie Roberts Store, 4 Itchen Street, Oamaru – sells unpackaged sweets (byo bags/containers)
  • Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru – stocks bulk dried organic goods. However, the store is 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!
  • Supermarkets – most supermarkets and Four Squares have bulk bin/pick and mix sections with wholefoods, sweets and snacks (BYO bags for these). However they’re pretty expensive, often more so than equivalent ingredients in packets (bah!), and more so than the bulk bins at places like The Real Food Pantry.


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!

  • 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!
  • Supermarket delis – Most supermarkets have a deli section offering unpackaged meat, seafood, olives and other antipasti, salads, lunch foods and more. All Countdown supermarkets officially allow you to BYO container for these goods! Most Fresh Choice supermarkets do too. Watch this space for when New World and PAK’nSAVE extend this practice to the South Island also…


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).

  • Vinbrux Bakery, 36B Arun Street, South Hill, Oamaru
  • Moa Bakery, Cakery, 26 Arun Street, Oamaru (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 
  • Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru 
  • Most supermarkets (and even some Four Squares) stock unpackaged bread, bread rolls and/or bakery goods in their bakery section – just pop them into your BYO bags!


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:

  • Steam Cafe (who roast their own beans), 7 Thames street, Oamaru.
  • The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru. 


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:

  • We’ve heard you can get unpackaged samples of loose leaf tea from the Riverstone Larder, 2 Harbour Street, Oamaru. 
  • Bell‘s loose leaf tea comes packaged only in paper and cardboard and is readily available in most supermarkets, Four Squares and dairies.


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:

  • Milk delivery in reusable glass bottles – The Natural Dairy are starting up a milk delivery system – have milk delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles (just like the old days!) – leave your empty bottles out on the next delivery day so they can be returned to The Natural Dairy for sterilisation and refill. YAY!
  • Return & Refill glass bottle scheme: TWO options:
    • The Natural Dairy sells milk in reusable glass bottles either at their farm shop (201 Oamaru-Alma Road, Oamaru) or at the Oamaru Farmers Market. How does the system work? The first time you buy a bottle of milk, you pay a little extra to cover the cost of the bottle and to ensure that you return it when you’re done. Return empty bottles to The Natural Dairy at their farm shop or the market and exchange it for a full bottle for only the price of the milk (or else get your deposit back). The Natural Dairy then keeps empties for sterilisation and reuse – so the bottles just go around and around – true zero waste!
    • Holy Cow sells milk in reusable glass bottles at Vinbrux Bakery, 36B Arun Street, South Hill, Oamaru. How does the system work? The first time you buy a bottle of milk, you pay a little extra to cover the cost of the bottle and to ensure that you return it when you’re done. Return empty bottles to any stockist of the milk, and exchange it for a full bottle for only the price of the milk (or else get your deposit back). The empties are then returned to Holy Cow for sterilisation and reuse – so the bottles just go around and around – true zero waste!


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:

  • Scotts Brewing Co., 1 Wansbeck Street, Oamaru (locally-made craft beer).
  • Super Liquor at 245 Thames Street, Oamaru sells Speights, DB, Emerson’s, Export Gold and Castlepoint Draught on tap
  • Liquorland at 261 Thames Street, Oamaru for Speights, DB and Wild Buck on tap.
  • Boots & Jandals Hotel1 Chain Hills Highway, Omarama.

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).


  • Drinking Chocolate – find unpackaged at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru.


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.

Reusable straws

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 –
    • Purchase 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).
    • DIY (waaay cheaper!) – You just need natural fibre fabric (cotton) and unpackaged beeswax. TOTE – The Oamaru Textile Emporium13 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.


Refills of cleaning products

The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers!

  • The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru

Low-waste dishwashing

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.

Laundry

  • Eco Planet laundry powder comes in a cardboard box with a cardboard scoop – no plastic lining! – and is available at New World Oamaru, 70-72 Wansbeck Street, Oamaru.
  • Non-plastic clothes pegs – wooden/bamboo clothes pegs are available at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru, and we spotted old school wooden pegs at Waitaki Traders, 166 Thames Street, Oamaru.

Ingredients for DIY cleaning products

  • Baking soda, epsom salts, borax, washing soda and soda ash – all available in bulk bins at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru. 
  • Bars of castile soap can be used as a base for homemade dishwashing and laundry liquid (see how it works here). Home Gallery, 16/14 Harbour Street, Oamaru stocks bars of Dr Bronner’s castile soap. 


Bamboo toothbrushes 

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 Pharmacy213-215 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 Care4 Frome Street, in Oamaru also stock bamboo toothbrushes.

Unpackaged bars of soap

There are many places in Waitaki District where you can unpackaged bars of soap:

  • 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
  • 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, by NZ Soap Star from inside Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street
  • You can locally made bars for different purposes, including shampoo and deodorant, by Honey and Spice 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).

Menstrual products

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.

Ingredients for DIY toiletries/cosmetics

  • Baking soda/starches/epsom salts – essential ingredients for a variety of DIY toiletries, are available in bulk bins at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru.
  • Refills of essential oils – available at NZ Soap Star, Inside Harbour Street Collective Cafe, 8 Harbour Street, Oamaru – yus!
  • Unpackaged beeswax available at The Real Food Pantry, 10 Eden Street, Oamaru (you just have to ask for it!)

Other

  • Toilet paper – Greencane toilet paper is wrapped in home-compostable packaging and is available at Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru.
  • Cotton buds – you can get Go Bamboo home compostable cotton buds from Brydone Wholefoods Store, 469 Alma-Maheno Road, Oamaru.
  • 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.


  • 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.
    • Repair – 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).
    • Recycle – 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!



4 thoughts on “Zero Waste in Waitaki District”

    • No worries! Do keep us updated if you do ever add more bulk or waste reducing things to the store as then we can add that onto the shopping guide as well 🙂

  • Hi Hannah and Liam,

    do you have any recommendations for a substitute for floss material.
    Apparently the usual floss brands contain Aspartame, although not stated on the package, it is something to avoid especially when trying to live sugar free as much as possible.
    I’ve been to one of your evenings and thank you for promoting your life style.

    Love to hear from you.
    Sandra

    • Hiya Sandra, thanks for your message. For a long time we just used silk as it’s home compostable (we just got silk thread from a craft store and unravelled it for thin strips; other people get bits of silk fabric and pull of strips as you need it). Some people use cotton thread, but we’re not sure it’s that easy to find strands of cotton thin enough.

      However, there’s now a great option on the market brought to NZ by Nicky Francis, a dentist based in Nelson. It’s a glass dispenser with unscrewable metal lid, totally refillable. The floss is 100% silk so home compostable. You can order it from Nicky through her page http://www.dogooder.co.nz – it will be sent to you without any plastic packaging. Please note that Do Gooder stocks both white floss and black floss. The black one has polyester (i.e. plastic) in it so is NOT home compostable. So, if it’s all the same to you, go for the white silk version. You should ask Nicky directly whether her floss has Aspartame in it or not as we’re not sure. Contact her through the Do Gooder website 🙂

      Thanks!

      H and L

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