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.
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).
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! Get reusable water bottles at Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames (metal); James & Turner Ltd, 131 Kapanga Road, Coromandel Town; Wyuna Studio, 110 Kapanga Road, Coromandel Town; Agnes + Annabel, 26 Campbell Street, Whitianga; Mosaic Gallery, 53 Albert Street, Whitianga; Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga; All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua; and Aspire Refill, 417 Port Road, Whangamatā.
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups on the Coromandel peninsula:
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 reusable produce/bulk bin bags at Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames and the Thames Organic Shop, 736 Pollen St, Thames and Aspire Refill, 417 Port Road, Whangamatā; locally-made produce bags at The Sustainable Pantry, 19 Seddon 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. Look out for locally-made Boomerang Bags throughout Thames!
Say “no straw thanks” next time you order a drink out and either use your mouth to drink, or get yourself a reusable straw instead. You can get reusable straws from Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames; The Fillery, 24 Albert Street, Whitianga; Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga; All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua; Aspire Refill, 417 Port Road, Whangamatā; and The Sustainable Pantry, 19 Seddon Street, Waihi.
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. Get Meals in Steel lunchboxes at Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames and Aspire Refill, 417 Port Road, Whangamatā; or The Himalayan Shop, 2311 Colville Road, Colville sells small round steel containers that would make a great lunch box for takeaways; and stainless steel lunch boxes at Fagans, 33 Albert Street, Whitianga.
Never have to get disposable cutlery again if you’re always armed with your reusable cutlery! Help yourself remember with a cutlery holder! Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames stocks cutlery holders by Sew Love (referred to as a ‘snackage package’ :-D).
The following stores stock liquid and/or powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers!
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames; The Fillery, 24 Albert Street, Whitianga; Aspire Refill, 417 Port Road, Whangamatā; and The Sustainable Pantry, 19 Seddon Street, Waihi. You can get Go Bamboo veggie brushes which work well as dish scrubbers from Re-Store, 580 Pollen Street, Thames; Four Square Coromandel Town, 50 Wharf Road; Colville General Store, 2314 Colville Road, Colville; The Fillery, 24 Albert Street, Whitianga; and All Things Organic, 237 Main Road, Tairua.
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:
And get locally made dish soap bars in just a cardboard sleeve (plus old-school steel soap shakers) from The Fillery, 24 Albert Street, Whitianga
The following stores sell totally naked bars of soap, or in compostable paper:
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.