Shop Without Packaging is a Refillery based in Raglan, New Zealand. Their beautiful store focus's on sustainability in many ways including providing local products and encouraging their customers to bring in jars and containers to refill their products. Here at Smartass, we love to start conversations with like-minded businesses. Shop Without Packaging has similar values to ours. This encouraged us to reach out and chat about topics that are important to us all.
We were lucky enough to chat with Bridie from Shop Without Packaging to talk about their community, goals, sustainability and more...
Hey Bridie, thanks for chatting with us! Firstly, can you please tell us about Shop Without Packaging and how it came about?
Shop Without Packaging is all about offering the local community a way to shop sustainably by removing the need for plastic packaging and providing a way to 'refill' household pantries. We certainly aren't the first to come up with the idea and won't be the last so inspiration came from a trip down to Wellington and visiting a similar shop. Previously, Raglan had an organic shop similar called WOK (Whaingaroa Organic Kai) which sadly closed before COVID and many locals had begun travelling to Hamilton to do the refill shopping. This started as an idea over a few wines at the rugby club and quickly became reality after realising there was one space left in Raglan and we dove in headfirst.
Where is the Shop Without Packaging located?
We are located at 9A Bow Street, next to the lane that takes you down to Raglan Roast coffee shop, right on the main street!
We’re very grateful smartass is stocked in your beautiful store. How do you choose what products to provide in your store?
We aim for New Zealand-owned companies and New Zealand-made/locally made is even more of a sell-point. Our largest food supplier is New Zealand owned and we stock a range of locally Raglan-made products such as soaps, honey, chai and candles. The biggest decision comes from a sustainability point of view, how many circular economies can we create? For example, Yum Granola sends us our granola in a bucket, we fill our bin, we post the bucket back and they refill the same bucket thus eliminating packaging. I find currently the smaller the company is the more we can work together to create these chains but we are continuously working to find better solutions for all.
I know there must be so many, but what are some products you wish had a sustainable alternative that currently doesn't?
Seaweed is a big one that pops up when we ask customers, I think homemade sushi is at the top of everyone's list! I would like to see cheese for the everyday consumer become more sustainable - being able to buy your standard cheese packaging-free would be amazing! Am I allowed to say alcohol here? I feel like while glass and cans are okay surely someone big jumps on the sustainable alcohol train! We have a local brewery Workshop Brewing Co. where you can go and buy refillable beer and they are amazing but imagine if this was your standard for things like wine or gin... ;)
Have you noticed any changes in your community when it comes to wanting to learn or partake in a sustainable lifestyle?
Massive changes, we certainly don't claim to be perfect and I love Nicola Turner's motto of doing what you can and fitting zero waste into your lifestyle, if it's hard you won't do it. Small changes from many people make great changes overall. We speak to all sorts of people every day who don't know where to start but just by doing one thing you are making a difference - things like buying a reusable coffee cup and saying no to takeaway cups is a super easy switch and Raglan is pretty good already with things like this, with the support and messages coming from Plastic Free Raglan. While I do see more people learning and partaking I feel like we have kind of just provided Raglan with the resource that they were missing to make the zero waste journey easier!
Do you have any new products, goals or exciting projects coming up you can tell us about? I’m sure our readers can keep a secret!!
Ooooh, we are exploring bringing SWOP online but would like to stay true to the kaupapa of being packaging-free so the options we are exploring are using delivery systems rather than courier and sending things in reusable containers/recycled jars/customers own containers, essentially creating another circle. It's like click and collect (which we also want to introduce) but on a slightly larger scale. We are also hoping to have a fridge full of local organic produce soon plus hoping to be able to provide Raglan with packaging-free tofu etc... would love to be able to jump on my packaging-free cheese and possibly a freezer for frozen peas, corn and berries. The dreams and goals are forever changing here but it's exciting to think about both little and big steps.
Lastly, let’s talk about Raglan. You’re based in such a beautiful part of Aotearoa, can you tell us a few of your favourite things to do, see and eat in Raglan?
Raglan is such an amazing town and so diverse with locals, travellers and visitors. Anyone who follows us on Instagram knows I love a coffee in the morning before work and will often pop up to The Hut - a new coffee place in the Rangitahi subdivision that are a no takeaway cup cafe. A quick visit up to Kahu’s Nest at Xtreme Zero Waste. I don't think any day is the same but my favourite recommendations are brunch at The Shack (they have a huge emphasis on reusables and trying to be a low waste cafe), a quick look around the local shops Everyones, Atamira and Surf Co. and visit all the shops down the lanes. Pop out to Manu Bay to watch the surfers or catch a really nice sunset and then top it off with dinner. Whenever my friends come out to Raglan it's usually for dinner and cocktails at Ulo's!
Thank you, Bridie. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!