Shopping guide

Where to buy in bulk/fill your own 

Bin Inn - hooray for this place. You can decant all kinds of goods into your own containers; from shampoo to rice to custard powder. Prices are competitive with supermarkets.
Health food shops - often have bulk bins as well. Check out what's available in your local one.
Co-ops - find out if you have a food cooperative in your community. These can be good for bulk, and organic food items.
Supermarkets - often have bulk bins but require you to use their plastic bags. Talk to a manager about bringing your own containers. Paper bags should not be an issue (use one of the paper mushroom bags most supermarkets supply).

Plastic-free goods in alphabetical order: most links are to NZ based companies

Baby products - the NZ blog plasticfreebaby has some great advice. Ecostore stock a range of baby wash and skincare products. Their packaging is either cardboard or recyclable bio-plastic.
Batteries - is a difficult one. You can reduce your plastic waste by using rechargeable batteries. Chargers will be plastic.
Bread - buy a loaf from your local bakery and get them to slice it for you. You may need to bring your own paper bag to put it in.
Bucket - try your local supermarket. I had a choice of stainless steel or galvanised iron from mine.

Clothes pegs - Go Bamboo. You can order products or find a local stockist through their website
Conditioner - vinegar works very well (apple cider vinegar has the best reputation). 
Cotton buds - Go Bamboo
Crackers - make your own crostini. Thinly slice a french stick or long bun, brush with olive oil and bake. Keep in an airtight container.
Cracker alternatives - use veges like carrot or celery for dips. Try putting blue cheese on apples or pears.
Cream cleanser (Jif alternative) - here are two very good recipes for making your own: stayathomemum and ecomum.

Deodorant - health shops will stock a variety of alternative products. The best store bought one I have found so far is Pierre D'Alun Alum Stone made from Potassium alum. Or see my post for May 2017 for how to make your own (this is the best deoderant I've ever used).
Dental floss - while it is possible to buy floss, at great expense, in cardboard packaging, the floss itself is still a plastic derivative. Use tooth picks.
Dish washing detergent - check with your local health shop to see if they offer bulk detergent that you can decant. Otherwise, Sunlight Soap bars will do the trick. Ecostore have detergent in recyclable bio-plastic containers. They also produce tablets and powder for dishwashers.

Food wrap - beewax infused material works a chalm. Buy online in NZ from Bee Wrapt or Honeywrap.

Hair dye - you can request Henna to be packaged in paper from Back2Nature.
Hand cream - Burts Bees do a lovely handcream in non-plastic containers. It is pricey though. Buy online or at a health food shop.

Lip balm - Burts Bees produce lip balm in a tin.
Laundry bleach - Eco Warehouse's eco-friendly Oxygen Bleach comes in a biodegradable bag.
Laundry powder - try soapnuts. Purchase from Eco Warehouse or from Trademe. Soapnuts are actually berries that create mild suds. 
Both Ecostore and Earthwise laundry powders are contained within plastic bags inside their cardboard box. Apparently, this is due to the lack of synthetic preservatives that prevent the powder from absorbing moisture.

Margerine - make your own. Mix half a pound (half a block) of butter with 1/4 of a cup of vegetable oil (something with a reasonably benign flavour). This creates a soft, easily spreadable butter.
Meat - take your own container or grease proof paper to a butcher (and while you're there, why not suggest they bring back wrapping meat in paper?).
Milk - you can buy milk powder in bulk from Bin Inn. Find out if you can get milk direct from a farm (often organic farms fill personal orders).

Paper towels - Greencane made from sugarcane biproduct, with compostable packaging. Available from New World and health shops in Auckland, or online.

Razors - you can buy metal razors and blades online from Shavershop

Sandwich wrap - Natural Value produce an unbleached waxed paper made with parrafin wax. Available from health shops. 
Sanitary pads - buy fabric ones online at EnvironMenstruals or Mama Cloth, or Natracare for organic cotton products.
Serviettes - Earthcare serviettes come in a cardboard box. Available from Countdown.
Shampoo - all you need to buy is BAKING SODA. Mix a rounded teaspoon or 2 (depending on the thickness of your hair) with a cup of water and work through your hair. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to perfume it. 
Sunlight or castille soap works well too. You will need to work the soap thoroughly into your hair.
Lush have a range of soap bars at a pretty price, but their reputation is very good.
Soap - Trade aid has a large range of paper wrapped soap for around $3 a piece. Ecostore have liquid soap and body wash in recyclable bio-plastic containers. Available in most supermarkets or from their online or shopfront stores.
Sunscreen - Avasol have a natural product that comes in a cardboard stick.

Tampons - Natracare organic cotton tampons. See link to buy online or purchase at a health shop. Or you can liberate yourself from using them altogether. Go to your local health shop and ask for one of these brands of menstrual cups: Divacup or Mooncup or buy online at EnvironMenstruals. They are made of silicone and are very easy to use.
Toilet paper - Greencane made from sugarcane biproduct, with compostable packaging. Available from New World and health shops in Auckland, or online.
Toothbrushes - Go Bamboo have bamboo toothbrushes. However, the bristles are nylon. 
Toothpaste - make your own: mix baking soda and water into a paste. You'll need to hide the flavour. A couple of drops of essential peppermint oil (health shop) should do it, but it is an acquired taste.


  1. Why aren't there comments here? You are awesome Merren!

  2. Hi Merren,
    Great list you've got. I was wondering if you know if the Plunket Next Generation laundry powder is still around. I used it a few years ago when I did my first plastic-free challenge and liked that it was in a cardboard box with a recycled cardboard scoop (zero plastic packaging). I can't remember whether it was New World or Countdown that I used to get it from. They don't have any in Pak'n Save in Gisborne at the moment anyway.

  3. Hi Madz, just had a look on the Next Generation website and there is laundry powder listed there. On their 'stockists' list I think all the supermarket chains are listed (even 4 Square!) so hopefully you can find some somewhere.
    Alternatively you could give soap nuts a try. I find they work really well. If you can't find a stockist in Gisborne, you can buy them via Trademe.
    Way to go on your plastic-less-ness. Are you going to do Plastic Free July this year?

    1. Thanks Merrin. I found some... New World still sells it. There's no New World in Gisborne though but since I'm in Wellington now... lol I have also tried soap nuts and they were good but I found them pricey and didn't last as long as I hoped. The Next Generation lasts longer for me... Also Sunlight Soap is great for woolens and basically cleaning everything.

  4. thanks for this!! I'm doing a month plastic free now, this is really helpful!

    1. why only a month, why not forever

    2. Hi Zee, how is your month going? Going plastic free is very difficult, so hats off to you! You will probably find you discover ways of being plastic free that are easily sustainable and you will be able to severely reduce your plastic use indefinitely, so trying it for a month is a great introduction to a rewarding lifestyle change. All the best.

  5. Hi Merren, your blog is an inspiration, we are going plastic free but taking it a step further, and not buying eco products in bioplastic packaging, I don't believe the recycling is efficient enough. We live on a farm in Taranaki, we grow all our veggies and have chooks, we make fertiliser from the poo in the henhouse soaked in vat of water for a couple of months, then diluted, it works a treat. Interesting you lived in Ireland, so did I for 30 years, but I don't believe that paying for bags has worked that well, people still buy them and i was disappointed on my return there last year to see that Lidl and Aldi, the German supermarkets, have stopped selling their cloth bags that were so good. I am considering making those in NZ and bringing them to our market in New Plymouth where we sell our veggies. I will be sourcing everything via Bin Inn I hope, the one in Waitera is fantastic. There will be challenges, my asthma inhalers, my husband's dental floss, I use the tea tree tooth picks, however, they come in a plastic box !! WHY?? He had a good idea to write to all the manufacturers of products we want to buy but are in plastic packaging and ask them if they can produce their products in other packaging, then publish on our facebook page/blog we are starting any positive results. Also refer to The Ocean Cleanup an initiative by a young Dutch man to collect the plastic in the ocean. We wondered what your take on fish oil capules is... we used to take them as we are old and arthritic, however figuring that everything in the ocean must contain plastic we have stopped. My husband contacted two manufacturers to ask if they tested for plastic, they test for mercury etc, but not plastic, now we are grinding linseed to get our Omega 3 but I don't think it's equivalent. Cheers and thanks

    1. Hi Shelagh, apologies for the late reply. I received a concussion in late January and find using computers very challenging AND as a result of my head injury your query about fish oil capsules is very timely. I am doing my best to eat food that will benefit my brain, so have been seeking sources of Omega 3. Like you, I have wondered about fish oil capsules and so haven't purchased any since I started my plastic free journey. However, I have read that chia seeds and linseed/flaxseed are higher in Omega 3 levels than fish like salmon, so I have been having a daily dose of them. I soak 1 Tbsp of each in 1 cup of water, and make a smoothie with them for breakfast, adding fruit and yoghurt. The yoghurt does present a small problem with plastic, but I make my own so the plastic is minimal.
      Do some reading on best sources of Omega 3 and you may well find an alternative that doesn't risk your health like fish oil capsules may.
      It is wonderful to hear your dedication to reducing plastic, and I love that you've written to manufacturers to query their practices and make suggestions about they can improve. All communities need someone like you to make a stand, and making it publicly (your cloth bags at the market) will encourage others to make change.
      I think I'd seen The Ocean Cleanup when it was crowd funding, so neat to see that it has been realised. Thanks for forwarding the link.
      All the best,

    2. Good sharing, for healthy purpose, Chia seeds offer the highest volume of Omega-3, as well as addition fiber (soluble and insoluble) along with vitamins or perhaps minerals you don’t usually get whenever you take sea food oil. Chia seeds giving you long lasting energy during the day moving in deep, restful sleep during the night time. Read more about Chia seeds at: