The West Coast’s dispersed geography presents a larger challenge to low-waste living than many other parts of the country. Outside of Greymouth, access to bulk bin stores is minimal and smaller communities some distance from these towns could really benefit from co-ops to help reduce waste and the costs of bulk buying. These are questions that we’ll leave up to locals to work out. Needless to say, there are many other initiatives occurring across the West Coast that involve communities coming together to reduce waste and lots of opportunities, beyond simply where you shop, to make a dent in your household rubbish.
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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).
NB: For a whole range of kitchen/food packaging alternatives, check out Daily Use which runs out of Hari Hari! You can order items online, but you can also arrange pick-up if you’re local. Mean!
Say “no more” to disposable takeaway coffee cups and plastic water bottles by getting yourself reusables instead! Get reusable water bottles at Heritage Giftworld, 176 Palmerston Street, Westport, Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre, 4294 Coast Road, Punakaiki, Pancake Rocks Cafe, 4300 Coast Road, Punakaiki, The Cook’s Pantry, 35 Guinness Street, Greymouth (metal), Hokitika i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, 36 Weld Street, Hokitika (metal), GiftNZ, 23 Tancred Street, Hokitika (metal & glass), Four Square Franz Josef, 24 Main Road, Franz Josef (metal), Glacier Shop, 29 Main Road, Franz Josef (metal) and Fern Grove Gifts & Souvenirs, 26 State Highway 6, Franz Josef (metal & plastic).
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 Eco Bag organic cotton string and produce bags at SuperValue Reefton, 65 Broadway, Reefton; Rethink 100% organic cotton produce & string bags at New World Greymouth, 128 High Street, Greymouth; or My Vita Bag 100% organic cotton produce/bulk bag packs at Four Square Franz Josef, 24 Main Road, Franz Josef.
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 Glacier Shop, 29 Main Road, Franz Josef.
The following stores stock liquid/powdered cleaning products in bulk dispensers – BYO bottles/containers!
Go Bamboo wooden veggie brushes with plant fibre bristles are home compostable (when they do wear down) and can be used as a handle-less dishbrush! These are available at Four Square Karamea, 103 Bridge Street, Karamea, and The Black & Dane Trading Co., 151-153 Palmerston Street, Westport.
We 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.
NB: For a whole range of zero waste bathroom products, check out Daily Use which runs out of Hari Hari! You can order items online, but you can also arrange pick-up if you’re local. Mean!
These are 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 get these at:
It’s easy to get soap without packaging in Westland and Grey districts. The following stores sell totally naked 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. Menstrual cups are popular with many women. These are stocked at Westland Pharmacy, 10 Weld Street, Hokitika and New World Hokitika, 116 Revell Street, Hokitika.
Avoid plastic shavers that are designed to be disposable and go for 100% metal razors that will last you decades and only require the 100% metal and recyclable blades to be replaced (or sharpened with a leather strop!), and remember to use a bar of shaving soap instead of shaving foam that comes in an aerosol can – you’ll need a shaving brush to make this work. You can buy razors, replacement blades and shaving brushes from NZ Barber Shed, 182 Palmerston Street, Westport; and High Street Barber, 12 High Street, Greymouth. Many pharmacies also stock shaving brushes, such as Buller Pharmacy, 168 Palmerston Street, Westport; and Unichem Olsen’s Pharmacy, Corner Tainui and Guiness Streets, Greymouth.