Taste Nature has re-filled over 35,595 containers in one year

By Ethically Kate
Dunedin based organic grocery store, Taste Nature, has re-filled over 35,595 containers in one year, while encouraging reusers through their unique ‘refilled not landfilled’ board.

In July last year, with the help of Responsible Cafe Directory, UYO, Taste Nature erected a ‘refilled not landfilled board’. This one-of-a-kind board kept a tally of the total number of containers that have been refilled at the organic grocery store over a period of a year. The final total? 35,595 containers. Each container represents one less single-use package, and one planet-friendly decision made to reuse what already exists.

The board was created by a local Dunedin artist, Claire Rye, with the purpose of not only recording the store’s impact, but ultimately inspiring shoppers to feel part of something bigger, and understand how huge their collective actions can be.

Taste Nature owner, Clinton Chambers, said their customers feel like they are contributing to something. “Sometimes they can feel like nobody is acknowledging their efforts, but the board means their efforts aren’t going unnoticed.”

Chambers hopes the impressive end total and success of the board will inspire other organic stores and refilleries to follow suit. “Imagine if this was multiplied by even just 10 around the country,” he said.

“Consumers want to make a difference, but they don’t know how. They think, Is it worth it? And when they see tallies like this, they know it is. It (reusing your own container) works well on mass… it all adds up.”

Each container represented on the board housed all sorts of items ranging from flours, dry goods, pulses, rices, nuts, dried fruit, to the extensive range of ecostore products. Taste Nature is home to the largest ecostore refillery in the South Island, and the second largest in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Taste Nature is incredibly staunch when it comes to reuse over single-use. Whatever Taste Nature sells in bulk, they don’t sell in packaging. Their refillery efforts are some of the most extensive in Aotearoa New Zealand. For example, shoppers can return their peanut butter jars to be reused by Taste Nature’s local peanut butter supplier. Shoppers are also able to return things like egg cartons, jars, and bottles, and trust that each container they return will be reused and circulated back in the system.

35,595 containers represent the hard work Taste Nature does to reduce their waste and create an accessible space for customers to shop their values. The statistic is grand as it is, however, it doesn’t include every produce bag that was used or refillable container that was returned. It’s estimated this total would be well over 40,000 when including all items that have been reused in store.

“They know they have made a difference, and that they are not just a crazy person bringing their own containers,” Chambers says.

Although the ‘refill not landfilled’ board has been taken down after its year in the spotlight, Taste Nature is already developing its next campaign to raise awareness on plastic packaging. Taste Nature’s new policy will be to stop purchasing new products in packaging that cannot be recycled by Dunedin City Council kerbside recycling.

New changes for Dunedin residence mean only plastic types 1, 2, and 5 will be collected and recycled. Taste Nature will be asking customers who purchase products that do not meet this new kerbside recycling criteria, to sign a letter requesting the supplier to review their packaging. The letter will push the supplier to understand their responsibility to the environment and to their customers, to act in a sustainable manner. Taste Nature will forward every signed letter to each supplier. If there are no changes to the product packaging within a year, Taste Nature will cease to sell that product.

Taste Nature will continue to innovate when it comes to waste free organic grocery
shopping, and are a successful role model for other stores across the country.