As the new owners of Your Shelf, Ocean and Shayla Cook are on a mission to help Te Hiku reduce waste created by unnecessary food packaging.
The 22-year-old twin sisters (Ngaitakoto, Te Rarawa), were born and raised in Kaitaia and bought the business from its founder Gabby Sykes of Ahipara roughly six weeks ago.
"We were familiar with the business and really loved everything Your Shelf stood for, and Gabby's vision,"
"Our mum also pushed us to go for it and has been our cheerleader the whole way through."
Your Shelf's ultimate mission is to give the people of the Far North a zero waste and eco-conscious shopping experience.
It's also the region's only bulk food and home brew supply shop.
The Cooks said that because little more than half of all food packaging was actually recyclable, they aimed to take plastic completely out of the equation for their customers.
"The amount of waste produced from food packaging is pretty enormous - Kiwis consume roughly 735,000 tonnes of packaging annually," they said.
"Of this, only 57 per cent is recyclable."
The Cooks give the example of rice, which they buy in 25kg sacks.
Their customers can then buy as much or as little rice as they need in their preferred packaging.
Paper bags and glass jars are available at the store, and people are encouraged to bring and reuse their own.
"If you were to purchase rice from the grocery store, the amount of packaging - whether plastic or otherwise - would be exponentially more, as each kilo of rice has its own packaging," they said.
"All the food we sell of course comes in some form of packaging.
"But buying in bulk ensures we minimise the amount of packaging, and our mission is to recycle as much of it as we possibly can."
And their work is perhaps even more relevant this month, with Plastic Free July beginning in Australia in 2011, and growing to become a global movement seeking to free the world of plastic waste.
As consumer demand for more sustainable options continues to rise, the Cooks said they were keen to broaden their offering of plastic-free alternatives.
"To grow this in the future, we'll seek options that are plastic-free, ethically sourced and local," they said.
"For instance, we just got in these new sponges from a really cool little business down in Christchurch called "Good Girl".
"They are Konjac sponges made from the Konjac root and have no plastic, along with being biodegradable. We strive to have more options like this.
"We also aim to have more local products in the future, both so we can support other small businesses and reduce our carbon footprint."
With an awareness that scooping and packaging food takes a little longer than picking it off a shelf, the Cooks are endeavouring to make shopping with them more convenient with an online option.
Customers are encouraged to drop off their own jars, which the Cooks use to package the order for later collection, with no additional charge.
Greenpeace Aotearoa recently highlighted the concerning claim that, globally, it was estimated only 9 per cent of all the plastic waste ever produced had been recycled, making the Cooks' mission even more timely.
Accompanied by a giant albatross sculpture made of reclaimed plastic bottles, Greenpeace recently delivered a 100,000-strong petition to parliament calling on the Government to ban single-use plastic bottles and incentivise reusable and refillable alternatives.
Greenpeace Aotearoa plastics campaigner Juressa Lee said companies like Coca-Cola sold a billion single-use plastic bottles in Aotearoa every year and were showing no sign of stopping without Government action to make them stop.
"This toroa sculpture here with me today was modelled off a young bird that died horribly of starvation after swallowing a whole plastic bottle," Lee said.
"Plastic pollution kills, it never goes away and it is everywhere.
"It's in the food we eat, the air we breathe and even in our placentas.
"This is a crisis and we have to see stronger action from our Government, starting with a ban on single-use plastic bottles."
Lee said it was clear, from the number of signatures, that the people of Aotearoa wanted more action to eliminate plastic pollution.
"The alternatives exist, we're just missing the political will from this Government to stand up to the likes of Coca-Cola and protect us from plastic pollution."