Game changer for local groceries

Pictured: from left, Nicola Cross and Emma Brown of Honest Wholefoods.

Plastic Free July was the perfect time for sisters Nicola Cross and Emma Brown to launch their new business, Honest Wholefoods. The pair have launched a waste-free grocery delivery business from their garage in Hawea Flat that goes the extra mile to eliminate waste. 

Plastic free groceries have been a mixed bag in Wanaka: some local health stores have plastic-free dry goods and/or a range of bulk bins but — sadly — organics are incredibly expensive and can be bad for the wallet despite being good for the planet and for your health. New World’s bulk bins are affordable, but the store only offers plastic bags for dispensing dry goods. 

Honest Wholefoods has hit the sweet spot: affordable, zero waste and delivered to your door; the deliveries can even include fresh milk in glass bottles on your doorstep. 

In their first week of business, Honest Wholefoods sold out of cumin, milk, flour, pasta, and almonds. Cross said the uptake has been great although somewhat expected, “I think we expected it just because it was so needed.” Their first week was trial and error but Cross said they are now ordering in “way bigger bulk”. 

The sisters said they have been battling hard for a year and a half to do waste-free at home and understand the need for it to be convenient and not super expensive. “It has to be affordable,” said Cross. 

“Obviously we want to do as much organic as possible, but we have to align zero waste with affordability, then throw in organic where we can. For example, our oats are non-organic, sourced locally from Harraways in Dunedin which come in large paper sacks, or we get organic which comes from Canada in plastic.” That conundrum is common to conscious consumers who weigh up food miles, waste and the chemical load in their purchases. 

“Where possible, we will create everything in a circular environment. I am battling with Eco Store to take back their drums to refill. Our Fix and Fogg peanut butter supplier takes back their 20 litre bucket to refill —  it’s at our cost to send it back but that’s what this business is about. Even our paper bags for bulk coffee, we send back to refill.”

The extra mile that Honest Wholefoods is taking means that it’s not just eliminating waste for the consumer, they are also taking full responsibility for their business waste — determined to create a circular economy. 

Orders are sent out in old boxes and customers can either leave their containers, jars and bottles by their front door for collection to be refilled or take them to the depot for refilling. “This is the best option if you live in the Wanaka, Albert Town, Luggate and Hawea areas and can take advantage of our pick-up and delivery service. We simply use your own containers and refill them with the products ordered. We willingly accept any type of container too — so tupperware, jars, tins, paper bags, old reused plastic bags — anything goes really.” Even if you choose their paper bag option, those bags can be sent back for refills. 

As Honest Wholefoods uses old boxes and jars to fulfill orders, they are welcome recipients of boxes and jars that are currently cluttering up your house and ask for them to be dropped off at the depot at 8 Francis Lane, Hawea. For more information, go to

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