This month our sustainable friend is Shay, the founder of CaliWoods, the original eco-friendly reusable straws here in NZ.

“I’m Shay – I love nature and the ocean and am working towards change for a more sustainable future. After lots of isolated travel and seeing plastic pollution in the most pristine pockets of the ocean, I was super motivated to contribute my part towards protecting what I love”.

1. When did you get introduced to the idea of sustainability?

During my childhood and through my Dad particularly. Surfing, loving the ocean and being at the beach everyday was a huge influence. You sort of get pretty passionate about protecting the places you love! Studying environmental sciences at university furthered the passion but it was all the travel, and seeing plastic pollution in super isolated pockets of the ocean, that really lead me to CaliWoods and where we are today.

2. What is it about sustainable living that interests you the most?

Effectively re-writing how we do things, it’s behaviour change, but also a complete system overhaul. It’s complexity is intriguing and watching sustainability evolve, and influencing my tiny part in it, is really motivating. Overall it’s about creating systems that are synonymous with nature so all species (including us!) have a chance of surviving in the years to come.

3. What’s one thing you’ve done to reduce waste in your home?

I would say the biggest change has been reducing food packaging – and not just because it’s relevant to this blog! Really tackling the majority of food packaging cuts down on the day to day waste. Also adopting a bit of a minimalist approach over the last couple of years has been super helpful. It makes you evaluate everything that comes into your life, if there’s a more sustainable alternative, what it is is packaged in etc.

4. What’s one zero-waste item you can’t travel without?

My heavy duty cotton reusable bag – it is so multi-purpose, going from a grocery bag to a beach bag. It’s multi coloured too so doesn’t show stains and marks. Its been well loved for 4 years!

5. What’s one thing everyone can do today to make a difference?

Just to start! Start with one thing, and gradually start to change habits. Becoming aware of single use plastic in your day to day e.g. food wrap, plastic bags, straws (of course!). Gradually buying reusable items that will last. Then remember your ‘why’ – whether it be the oceans, sea-life, your children, or future generations wellbeing. Our ‘why’ is what keeps us on track and motivates us to learn more and do our part!

6. What’s your idea of the perfect package-free pantry?

I would be lying if I said a beautiful pantry with cute jars didn’t make me excited! And matching labels! Bulk food shopping is a great option to reduce the plastic from food packaging. You can take in your own jars and refill them in-store. It is a great idea to reuse food jars for your pantry. Wide openings are great as they are easy to refill.

7. Are you a glass jar or a tupperware kind of person?

Oh totally glass as I like that it is completely food-safe, I can put it in the oven etc. But it does have its restrictions, can clank around in the car and is easier to break. There’s a place for plastic, particularly the plastic items you already own – super important in this ‘anti-plastic’ movement that we don’t go purge the house but rather love and respect the plastic we have as it can be super practical (think hikes, kids etc). When those items break, I look at it as replacing with a responsible alternative that is going to go the distance (e.g. stainless steel) or replacing the item with a recycled plastic option and supporting the end market for rPET – these items are few and far between in my life now though. Check out ‘Circular Economy’ for a more in-depth look at solutions for our waste system.

8. What is your favourite ingredient from the GoodFor store to cook with?

Absolutely the Little Bird Macaroons – love that I can get my favourite treat package-free!

Connect with Shay & CaliWoods-

Instagram – @caliwoods_eco

Website –