Bags Not

We check out key local places to buy in bulk and refill your own containers

We’ve got our reusable shopping bags on the go, so what’s next in the move to reduce our shopping waste? We check out key local places to buy in bulk and refill containers.

We love the beautiful place we live in and we want it to stay that way — beautiful. A huge part of this comes down to the “three Rs” you may’ve heard being mentioned more and more recently: reduce, reuse, recycle. Whether you’re already on this train or thinking of ways to jump on board, the recent surge in the anti-plastic movement has cemented this mantra as part of our everyday lives. Local eateries have removed straws, recycling bins have popped up in public areas and our local refill-style stores have become even better.

To help you on your reduce and reuse journey (as ideally, these should be the first port of call
before recycling), we shopped around our local bulk food stores to see what makes each unique.

The Source Bulk Foods, Bayfair

Having first opened in the health mecca of Byron Bay, it seems appropriate that this organic franchise has now popped up here in the New Zealand version of Byron. Walking into this smart,
well set out store is like refillery heaven. It’s packed with everything from flours, grains and seeds,  
to chocolate, nuts, maple syrup and tahini. It’s hard to know where to begin.

Every bin in the store has nutritional information, denotes the country of origin and often gives other helpful information too, such as cooking instructions or serving ideas. With its huge treat section, this kind of decision making help is welcome if it helps you choose between dark chocolate freeze-dried strawberries and moon macadamias. There are plenty of organic options and there’s a focus on Australasian suppliers, keeping it close to home.

Know before you go:

→ Kefir and Kombucha on tap — bring your bottles or buy some in store.

→ Bulk refills of natural home cleaning products.

→ Local honey for purchase or refills.

→ Organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free options.

→ Perfect place to create a dessert platter with the extensive treats and dried fruits.

→ Paper bags available for when you forget your containers, or you can buy well-priced jars in various sizes.

→ Membership scheme: With every dollar you spend, get 5c to spend later.

Wholefoods Bin Inn, Papamoa & Bethlehem

The Bin Inn group is one of the OGs of refill goods and their Papamoa store is a local fave.
Alongside the usual bulk bin necessities like seeds, oats and flours, there’s a great range of oils, honeys, maple syrup, molasses and vinegars for refilling,  their own spice mixes (such as turmeric latte mix), plus staff are open to requests. Customer feedback has led to the addition of items
like sun flour (keto-friendly sunflower seed flour) and cacao butter.

The store stocks a huge variety of speciality and organic foods, from bone broth to brewing
kits. There is even a small pet food bulk section, so even our furry and feathery friends can
reduce and reuse.

When you visit the Papamoa store, make sure you bring your reusable cup so you can grab
a coffee from The Coffee Project, which is located inside the store. They also sell reusable cups,
if you are yet to buy one.  

If you’re on the other side of the bridge, an equally well-stocked Bin Inn has opened in Bethlehem, where they’ve even started offering bulk cheeses.

Know before you go:

→ Kombucha on tap.

→ Bulk buys or refills of Ecostore household cleaning and body products.

→ Sourdough delivery (Volare at Papamoa, and Bethlehem has Volare and Mount Sourdough on alternate days).

→ Organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free products.

→ Bulk cheeses (Bethlehem)

→ Huge range of personal grooming products, including Ethique.

→ Almond butter (Papamoa) and peanut butter grinding machines.

→ Jars and bottles for sale.

→ Get 5 per cent off when you use your own jars/containers (and, at Papamoa,
10 per cent off if your total exceeds $50).

→ Loyalty card: Earn one point for every $20 you spend at any Bin Inn store; get
$5 discount once you reach 15 points.

Be Organics, Mt Maunganui

A local store that passionately supports locals, this is one of our favourite places to shop.
As the name suggests, Be Organics is an organic-focused store dedicated to sustainably and ethically sourced goods that are all about improving people’s wellbeing — from shakti mats
and fresh produce, to a range of teas and tonics.

The bulk bin range is smaller than the other stores listed here but each of the products are organic and carefully chosen. They have the key players such as pastas, herbs and spices, seeds and more.

Be careful when you go up to the counter — the most divine vegan treats are waiting for you.
We ended up with the She Universe Hazelnut Heaven Crisp Batons last visit — it was well worth it.

Know before you go:

→ Fresh, local, organic produce.

→ Six Toed Fox Organics flowers for sale.

→ Organic, vegan, paleo, gluten-free and dairy-free products.

→ Lots of personal products, such as infant items, natural medicines and skincare.

→ Fresh and frozen breads, including Midnight Baker.

→ King Seeds packets for sale.

→ Bring your own containers, there are also jars for sale, and paper bags on offer.

Huckleberry, Tauranga & Mt Maunganui

At the start of May, Tauranga’s Huckleberry (also still known as Wild Earth Organics) added in
a bulk bin refill area to its already impressive array of products. This store is one of the key organic and wholefood grocers in Tauranga, with a huge range of  dry, fresh and frozen produce.

Although they say their new refill area is a work in progress, it already includes an impressive array
of the usual suspects including seeds, nuts, different flours and grains, as well as some surprise goodies such as dried banana (different to banana chips). Each bin has the country of origin and
the certification rating.

There is also a Huckleberry in Mt Maunganui with a fantastic range of products. The refill range
is a little smaller there but still great if you need to grab other groceries at the same time.

Aside from food, both stores have a refill station for Ecostore household cleaning and body products, so bring along your empty Ecostore bottles (or any old containers) to restock.

Know before you go:

→ Fresh, organic produce, such as local growers Six Toed Fox Organics.

→ Bulk buys and refills of Ecostore products.

→ On-site vegan cafe (Tauranga)

→ On-site deli, cafe-style cabinet and coffee (Mt Maunganui)

→ Extensive grocery selection.

→ Health and beauty products, protein powders and more.

→ Take your own bags for 50c off.

→ Loyalty card: Get one Good Dollar to use for every $50 spent (or part thereof).


Here are some tips that can make supermarket visits more planet-friendly:

→ Bring re-useable containers for use in staffed areas (eg seafood, bakery, deli, butchery). Staff will subtract the container’s weight then price the product. They aren’t able to do this in the bulk bin section, but you can always bring plastic bags from previous bulk purchases to reuse. Supermarkets may also be able to use a paper bag at the deli instead — ask if paper is an option.

→ Bring your own reusable cotton or mesh produce bags instead of using the plastic bags in
the fresh section — buy them from the stores we’ve listed. Keep them in your resusable bags
and you won’t forget them.

→ Co-operative buying is a way to access organic produce without the usual cost and packaging.
To find out more, check out Tauranga Community Co-op’s site: taurangacoop.co.nz

Story by Megan Raynor
Photography by Claire Mossong
Styling by Stephen Kirkby