This guide covers the Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki districts only. For other districts in the Waikato Region, please refer to the Zero Waste in the Waikato Region post.
The Coromandel Peninsula (including the Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki Districts) is stunningly beautiful and there is an energy in the community to keep it that way. Dotted around the peninsula are all kinds of businesses and initiatives seeking to support the local community to minimise waste, from the Colville General Store, through to the Seagull Centre and The Goldmine. If you are interested in travelling around and learning about what communities are doing to minimise waste, you’ve certainly got options in this part of the country! For those living around Thames-Coromandel or Hauraki District, strategic shopping (that is, combining trips around the peninsula with zero waste purchases) can mean that it is possible to live with very little rubbish. It’s an exciting prospect and we got the feeling that low-waste businesses and community initiatives are on the rise.
For the meantime, here are some spots we came across, and loved. If we’ve missed anything that you know about, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, or comment below, and we’ll add it in! 😀
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 Thames, 707 Pollen St, Thames – offers a wide array of dried food in bulk (including, but not limited to, nuts, seeds, cereals, grains, flours, and legumes), a range of spices, liquid foods (including vinegars, oils and syrups), 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!
- Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames – Rather than having bulk bins, Thames Organic Shop repackages their bulk wholefoods into cellophane packaging, which is home compostable. However, they may be amenable to refilling your BYO bags/containers out the back, as they keep their bulk supplies on site. So just ask!
- Savour & Spice, The Depot, 715 Pollen St, Thames – this gorgeous spice store has a wide range of high quality spices and spice blends. The owner is happy to refill your containers with the spices, which are kept on site, so you can get your spices packaging free. For the spice blends, whether you can get refills of those depends on availability – if they’ve got some unpackaged out back then they’ll refill those too 🙂
- Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville – offers a range of bulk dried food as well as liquids (including oils, vinegars, tamari). They also stock Trade Aid chocolate bars, which come in home compostable wrappers. Next door to the store you will also find the Colville Cafe, from which local business, Wholefood Cafe, operates. Wholefood Cafe serves real food, without the throw away aspect – you won’t find any takeaway cups, dishes or cutlery here (you can take away, provided you BYO cups/containers etc!). Instead, simply take a seat, relax, and enjoy a waste-free kai that is good for your body as well as your psyche!
- Whangamata Foodmarket, 612 Port Road, Whangamatā – has a small selection of bulk products, including nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
- Fruit Valley, 68 Belmont Road, Paeroa – has a range of bulk bins, including spices, beans, legumes, grains, salt and even baking soda!
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!
- Bite Deli, The Depot, 715 Pollen St, Thames – this store stocks a range of delicatessen meat, cheese and treats products which they will happily put in your BYO bags/containers.
- The Coromandel Smoking Co., 70 Tiki Road, Coromandel Township – will put their delicious smoked mussels directly into your BYO container – packaging free!
- Coromandel Meatkeeper, 55 Kapanga Road, Coromandel Township – this butcher will put cuts of meat directly into your BYO container, otherwise they wrap cuts of meat in paper (rather than plastic).
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).
- RAW Artisan Market Place, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi – sells Lewis Road Bakery bread, which also comes in home compostable wrapping.
Markets and other low-waste goodies you might not have thought of
- Markets – No two ways about it, if you want to get a good source of unpackaged, often locally grown, produce, markets are the place to frequent! By and large, we’ve found that markets, where you can meet the grower/producer face-to-face, are really great for starting fruitful conversations about waste-free food, and developing relationships and systems that enable you to get your favourite fruit, vege and preserves without the packaging. 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. A real standout being the Thames Market, which is endeavouring to be plastic-free (and doing a pretty darn good job of it!), and there are lots of things on offer that you should be able to get rubbish-free if you BYO bags and containers, including locally produced plants, fruit and vegs, bric-a-brac, second hand goods, arts and crafts, fine food, cheeses, speciality oils, health and body care products, flowers, bread, and knit wares.
- Trade Aid – Trade Aid’s entire chocolate range comes in packaging that is compostable in a home compost, made by Hamilton based company, Econic. You can get it from Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames.
- RAW Artisan Market Place, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi stocks Loving Earth raw chocolate (which comes in Econic home compostable packaging).
- Whangamata Foodmarket, 612 Port Road, Whangamatā stocks sweets/lollies in bulk bins.
- Milk – you can get fresh, raw milk into reusable glass bottles from a vending machine at Buttercup Dairies, 124 Hauraki Road, Turua. Just buy the glass bottles the first time you go, and from then on keep those glass bottles and reuse them at the vending machine over and over again.
- Coffee – look out for local roasters and go straight there with your own bags and containers for beans and grinds. Otherwise, you can get beans and grinds in bulk from Bin Inn Thames, 707 Pollen St, Thames and the Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville, or look out for stockists of Trade Aid’s coffee range, which comes in home compostable wrapping (just remove the valve before composting), e.g. Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames.
- Tea – you can also get Herbal Potential tea, which comes in home compostable brown paper bags, at RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi.
- Drinking chocolate – Kokako brand drinking chocolate comes in packaging that is compostable in a home compost. It is stocked in All Things Organic (237 Main Road, Tairua AND 1 Monk Street, Whitianga).
- Beer/alcohol – look out for places that sell beer on tap where you can BYO flagons… you’ll be surprised by what you find. For example, Super Liquor in Whangamatā (corner of Port and Ocean Roads) offers craft beer on tap, while the Liquor King in Coromandel does refills of port and sherry (!)
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 All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua and 1 Monk Street, Whitianga.
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups on the Coromandel peninsula:
- Coco Coffee Bar, 661 Pollen St, Thames – stocks a variety of reusable coffee cups
- James & Turner Ltd, 131 Kapanga Road, Coromandel Town
- All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua and 1 Monk Street, Whitianga
- Grapefruit Gully, 13 Monk Street, Whitianga
- Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga
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 a range of reusable produce bags at the Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames; 100% cotton bags at RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi; and a range of jute and hessian bags at Bargains N More, 67 Seddon Street, Waihi. You can also order bags from Rinse and Repeat, an online store of alternatives to single-use plastic, made by local Coromandel woman Genevieve Lloyd.
Alternatives to plastic cling wrap, plastic sandwich bags and tin foil
- Beeswax wrap – available at Savour & Spice, The Depot, 715 Pollen St, Thames; RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi; and Busy Beeswax Food Wraps – locally made (in Whangamatā). Either order through Facebook, look out for them in stores around the Coromandel peninsula, or contact Linsay directly to arrange pick-up.
- Reusable sandwich bags – you can order these great reusable alternatives to Glad Wrap and plastic ziplock bags from Rinse and Repeat, an online store of alternatives to single-use plastic, made by local Coromandel woman Genevieve Lloyd.
- 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 James & Turner Ltd, 131 Kapanga Road, Coromandel Town; Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga; and Table Talk, 652 Port Road, Whangamatā.
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 Bargains N More, 67 Seddon Street, Waihi, which stocks cloths/sponges made of bamboo and ramie, and should be home compostable at the end of their life.
- Other 100% cotton dishcloths are available at Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga (organic cotton); Bella Design, 648 Port Road, Whangamatā; and Art Market, 65 Seddon Street, Waihi (locally made)
- Bin Inn Thames, 707 Pollen St, Thames – stocks a wide range of both liquid and powdered cleaning products/ingredients that you can fill your own bottles and containers with. Also stocks unpackaged bars of soap.
- Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames – offers refills of some Ecostore detergents, including dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid and multi-purpose spray. Also stocks SoapNuts NZ that come in a cardboard box without a plastic inner lining.
- All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua and 1 Monk Street, Whitianga – stocks SoapNuts NZ that come in a cardboard box without a plastic inner lining.
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 Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames; Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville; All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua and 1 Monk Street, Whitianga; and RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi.
Unpackaged Bars of Soap
The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap: Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville; Divine Delights, 88 Seddon Street, Waihi.
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 stocked at Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames.
Reusable Menstrual Products
There are zero waste, low cost alternatives to disposable sanitary items like tampons and pads. You can get menstrual cups at Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames
- Cotton Buds – Go Bamboo makes home compostable buds so you can avoid the single-use, unrecyclable plastic ones. Get them from RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi.
- Toilet Paper – we would recommend Greencane toilet paper as it is wrapped in home compostable packaging. You can it at Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames; and Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville.
- KAIAS Naturals – this wonderful local business creates natural hair, skin and oral care products and offers customers a 10% discount if they return containers for refills (yes, seriously!). You can either purchase online, or get their products from All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua and 1 Monk Street, Whitianga; and RAW Artisan Marketplace, Unit 2/8 Haszard Street, Waihi.
- Seagull Centre, Burke St, Thames – an excellent community-run recycling and recovery centre. Avoid the landfill and instead bring along materials to be recovered, reused, recycled and/or offered as affordable second hand goods to people living in the community. Visit the centre to see what is on offer – metal, timber, building supplies, electronics, clothing, homewares etc. etc. – the list goes on! The centre is also a drop-off point for e-waste, so you can ensure that your broken appliances and electronics are either repaired and onsold, or recycled safely (at a small cost). The centre also runs a fortnightly auction of some really special goods – keep your eye out for that!
- The Goldmine Coromandel Reuse Centre 525 Hauraki Road, Coromandel Town – a newly opened community reuse and recovery centre run by Coromandel Independent Living Trust (CILT). Drop-off unwanted materials here and if they’re fit to be done up and/or reused, they’ll be offered back to the community at affordable rates through the reuse shop (instead of going to landfill)! Take advantage of the store by having a look at what’s on offer. The centre also has a workshop on site for repairs, so check that out too – maybe you can rescue a much-loved item rather than giving it away. If you have e-waste, you can drop that off at the centre for safe recycling and disposal.
- Waihi E-Waste Recycle Depot, 2 Rata Street, Waihi – If you’ve got e-waste to recycle in Hauraki District, anything electronic can be dropped off here (at a small charge).