This guide covers Whangārei City & District only. For other areas of Northland, please refer to the Zero Waste in Northland 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).
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. BYO bags to get fresh produce from the Whāngārei Growers Market, 17 Water Street, Whāngārei.
Trade Aid – Trade Aid‘s 2kg 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, Corner of Vine Street and The Strand Shopping Centre, Whāngārei. You can also get Trade Aid sugar at Kamo Health Shop, 523 Kamo Road, Kamo.
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 coffee in other stores. Here are the spots we found:
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 Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei (glass and steel); Intec Interiors, 14 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei (steel & glass); Gifts on Rathbone, 10 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei.
There are heaps of places to buy reusable takeaway coffee cups in Whāngārei:
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. You can get Bento Ninja stainless steel lunchboxes and food containers at Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei.
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. For beautiful produce bags locally-made from upcycled materials, check out the ones made by SewGood Whangārei. Otherwise, you can get Rethink 100% organic cotton produce + bulk bin + string + bread + nut mylk bags at Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei; or just produce bags at Intec Interiors, 14 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei; Kensington Pharmacy, 4 Kensington Ave, Whāngārei. If you need some reusable bags, get locally-made Boomerang Bags from the Whāngārei Growers Market. If you want to make your own produce bags, did you know that Frazerhurst, 148 Lower Dent Street, Whāngārei gives out offcuts of their curtain fabric FOR FREE?
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 Power Plant, Civic Arcade, 37 – 41 Bank Street, Whāngārei CBD; Intec Interiors, 14 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei; Gifts on Rathbone, 10 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei; Kensington Pharmacy, 4 Kensington Ave, Whāngārei; or a bamboo straw from Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei.
You can find dishbrushes with wooden handles and removable + replaceable, home compostable heads at Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei; Power Plant, Civic Arcade, 37 – 41 Bank Street, Whāngārei CBD; Bin Inn Whangarei, 75 Walton Street; Putiputi Ra, 79 Walton Street, Whāngārei; Intec Interiors, 14 Rathbone Street, Whāngārei
Also, you can get wooden veggie brushes with plant fibre bristles which can also be used as dishbrushes (they just don’t have a handle) at Eko Hub, 1/10 John Street, Whāngārei; Bin Inn Whangarei, 75 Walton Street; and Handsome Frog Cafe, 3c Rose Street, Whāngārei CBD – as these are made only of bamboo and plant fibre, they’re home compostable should they ever wear down.
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:
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: