Providence Foods Bulk Food Store, Ferntree Gully

Part 1 of Maddie & Andreas’ Interview

Welcome to our first sustainable business showcase! Where we interview people who are making real world changes every day for a better future. Don’t forget to check out Part two where they talk about sustainable tips and swaps.

The store owners, Maddie & Andreas, shared their story and their passion for reducing the amount of single-use plastics. They love helping customers on their sustainability journey and promoting eco-friendly shopping. Providence Foods is on a mission to gently encourage sustainability in the community, and help you work towards a zero waste lifestyle.

Their bulk food store, Providence Foods is in Ferntree Gully, in Melbourne, Australia. You will find it as part of the strip of shops called Mountain Gate Shopping Centre. The store specialises in bulk food and eco-friendly products.

Soon they will also be launching an online store, so you will be able to order online and have your goodies delivered.

Whether you’re on the road, at home or stocking up for a camping trip, this is a great place to get your supplies.

Podcast Interview- Video & Audio Versions

Interview Transcript:

00:00- Chapter 1: Preview
Maddie: In terms of customers coming in and asking about the balance between price and quality and organic versus non-organic. What I say to people is our store isn’t entirely organic because it’s not always doable. It’s not always, you know, the right price for them. And it’s not sustainable for them.

And if we want people to start buying into a sustainable lifestyle, it’s not about cutting out absolutely everything. It’s about reducing and making a conscious act to reduce rather than going extreme and saying, no, I’m not buying this because of x, y, z.
0:41- Chapter 2: Intro
Voiceover: G’day mate, and welcome to the Sustainable Travels podcast, where we showcase the ways real people are making real world changes
to live, work and travel sustainably.  

0:54- Chapter 3: Maddie’s Story
Maddie: So I’m Maddie, and this is my partner, Andreas. And we’re the proud owners of Providence Foods bulk food store in Ferntree Gully. We do bulk foods predominantly, and we also do some health products.

We have a real focus on sustainability and really lowering our plastic usage as well. So we’re quite focused on making sure that our products aren’t just single use, that they are more environmentally conscious, and they have a lower impact as well. And yeah, they’re just lower in single use waste and generating less waste.

My journey with environmentalism began about 10-15 years ago, where I was increasingly conscious about my impact on the planet, and I wanted to make sure that how I lived wasn’t partaking in, you know, or minimising fast fashion, you know, having items around the house, having clutter, having products that serve a single function and a single purpose one time and then are, you know, done away with and enter into landfill.

I look at things quite negatively at times. I think I sort of go into a shopping mall and think this is just a giant pile of landfill. This will one day be a giant pile of landfill. Everything you see here will end up in hard rubbish. And I just go, but why? Why are we so selfish that we need to? Yeah, you can say I get emotional, but..

Andreas & Sustainaroo team: every time!

Maddie: every time.

(everyone laughs)

Maddie: But why do you need to go into a shopping centre just to fulfil your need for emotional happiness for that five seconds? And then as soon as you get home, within a day or two, you’ll be over that item anyway. What is within you? This is my social worker background coming through. What is within you that you’re needing that item to fulfill a need? What is the needs going on behind it?

Because every purchase that we make is an emotional purchase to some extent, to a large extent. So by taking the time to stop, and I really practice this when I make a purchase, even with stock, even with the items in the store, why am I buying this? Where is it going to go? What need will this fill? But also, what is going to be the long term impact of me buying this, because I’ve had an emotional reaction to this product. Where is this going?

And I think for me, the journey began with becoming quite conscious about my impact on the environment, my impact on animal life, my impact on our waterways, our landfill, our land. What is around me? How am I creating mess? Do I need to create this mess? Do I need to participate in this? What are some other ways? I’m always looking for alternative ways of doing things. And I think, thinking about it, before you make a purchase is just high on top of my list. Do I actually need this item? What purpose will it serve?

04:09- Chapter 5: Andreas’ Story
Andreas: Starting out as a mechanic, working in IT, those are two pretty big industries that are big polluters. They’re pretty unsustainable in a lot of ways. And seeing the disregard that they, that those industries can have, it’s disappointing to see, but at the same time it’s sort of, through my journey.

Finding out that it you’re not going to change the nameless, faceless mega corporation, but you can have an individual change in each individual that does go ahead and have some change, sort of, you know, starts to swing the narrative. And slowly but surely, everyone will hopefully start to move towards a more sustainable way of living.

And once, you know, once the consumer really wants a sustainable way of living it, it pushes those mega corporations to follow suit. Because really, at the end of the day, they move with where they can sell a product and
Maddie: “Vote with your dollar!” as you always say,

Andreas: Yeah, vote with your dollar. And, you know, try and be sustainable and then the others will follow suit. I’ve noticed in the IT industry, to a large extent, not so much in the automotive, is they’re moving towards a sustainable packaging model because a lot of their stuff is, you know, requires large mines, a lot of logistics, a lot of, you know, moving stuff around. And then they also have these plastic packaging that covered everything, that wasn’t recyclable.

The, you know, the yearly cycle of buying your next tech thing meant that, you know, a lot of that e-waste would end up in landfill and unrecyclable. So a lot of those companies have started to notice that. It’s also a good way to pull a lot of those precious metals back out of the product and back into usage for them. So it cuts costs for them. So watching them do their thing has been an interesting one.

And I guess I’d just like to participate wherever I can, because obviously this whole global warming stuff is, you know, everyone says, well, we’ve got to reach this, we’ve got to reach that. And if the individuals don’t start having an input and start making a change, you won’t get industry, government or anyone else to get on board.

If we don’t, if the individual doesn’t get on board and start to do their own thing. So that’s really the reason I got into it, is so I could have my little bit of change go on in my life and then hopefully, you know, it’s part of the bigger picture overall.

07:07- Chapter 6: Vote with Your Dollar
Maddie: And I think that that’s really key with, you know, people will say, the mega-corporations are the ones that aren’t doing enough. Andreas always says to me, well then vote with your dollar. And I say, well, I’m only one small person, how can I possibly make a difference?

But I don’t realise sometimes that I’m just one small person in a sea of people who are thinking the same way that I am. So I think sometimes we lose sight and we think, well, I’m just one, one individual, how can I possibly create change?

But there’s so many other individuals who think the same. And there’s an analogy that was told to me at uni, because I studied international development, so I studied, you know, how to create change within a small community and really make impactful, meaningful change. And one of our lecturers said, well, think about a mosquito in a tent. It only takes one mosquito to bite a bunch of people for them to feel the effects of that mosquito. And it’s only one mosquito.

So that sort of really, really stuck with me ten years later and I think, well, I can make change. I can vote with my dollar, I can vote with my opinions, my opinions that I share to the community, the discussions I have with customers in store, discussions I have with friends, with family and so on. And you know, you create change often from the bottom up, from the ground up. It’s not always from the top down.

And like Andreas said, large industry will listen to you when there’s enough of you saying, well, I’m taking my money this way. And this is what I want out of that product. And it’s the same way with us. Like I ask customers all the time, what do you want in this store? What would you rather? What would you rather spend on? What kind of products do you want in here?

How do you want this store to function? And I will think about your offerings, you know, compare it with what everyone else wants. And, you know, my direction is paved by what our customer base wants as well, because that makes us sustainable.

09:21- Chapter 7: In the Bulk Food Store: Products
Andreas: You get a lot of customers that come in. They either don’t know we’re here, or they’re just discovering the area and they’re coming past, and they see a store like ours and are intrigued by what they see. We have some giftware at the front here that makes for a good attractor.

And then they come in and they are curious about what we do. Of course, as soon as they come in, we have the peanut butter and almond butter machines, just those in it. It’s got no additives, no extras, nothing like that. And then it sort of piques people’s interest. So we then just let them know that either we have paper bags that can be thrown in your green waste bin, or if you want, you can bring your own tubs in.

We tare them off, add the weight to them, you go and fill them up with the product that you’d like, and then bring it up to the counter and we weigh it all off and you just pay for what you’ve filled the container with.

That way you’re not having to walk out with 400 plastic bags that you end up having to empty when you get home and throw away in the rubbish bin. These days, now that Redcycle’s a thing of the past.

And you can bring your own containers back after you’ve eaten some of your favourite takeaway, just keep them in the cupboard and bring them in and fill them up and just continue the cycle rather than sort of coming in, buying, throwing away. And if you do need to or you forget a container or you need some extra stuff, there’s something that can go straight in the green waste bin. So that’s always a handy one as well.

So yeah, outside of that we do have some recyclable plastics. And if it’s a sort of liquid item, honey, peanut butter that sort of stuff. So we always try and make sure that we’re choosing the right products to make sure that you can either recycle, or reuse and avoid going into landfill. And that’s that’s probably key for us, is avoiding landfill items where possible. Which I’m sure Maddie can speak to in a moment.

So we’re trying to reduce the shop’s footprint at the same time. Less power with LEDs, you know, trying not to, sort of just waste unwantfully. Which has been a big part of what’s been going on I find.

Maddie: I think for me, when I make a stock purchase, I’m quite conscious of what I’m bringing into the store. Some things are unavoidable in terms of plastic. For instance, cheese. You know, we can’t really do much about that, it’s a single use product. But the farm that we source from is sustainably created. They care for their cows quite a lot.
They’re not just a brand with no name. You actually get to know the people who work on the farm, who bottle up the milk, who deliver the milk, and deliver the cheese. It’s not just a faceless brand name.

For me, when I buy stock, I make sure where possible that it is low or no single use plastic, and I really, really push for glass. So our tea range that is pre-packaged is glass, but it’s also, a biodegradable cellophane. So we really, really push for renewable, recyclable, wherever possible. And yeah, again, in my stock purchasing, I will definitely fight for – Is it glass? Is it recyclable? Can it be reused in store? Can someone refill it? And can it be used elsewhere inside the home? Yeah. So that’s a really, really important motivator for me when I’m making my stock purchases.

13:08- Chapter 8: Benefits of Bulk Food Stores
Andreas: You can come in and buy as little or as much as you like. And in terms of, you know, especially with the spices and stuff. You bring a jar in from Woolies, Coles, one of those big few um, and refill it and, we worked it out, it’s substantially cheaper when you’re not paying for the glass, the plastic, the the all of the supply chain that comes along with dealing with the amount that the larger chains deal with.

You come in, you fill it up, you walk out, and we sometimes have, you know, a couple of dollar purchases because it’s so convenient just to come down and restock. Just the cinnamon, just the chilli flakes, whatever you need. And you’re not walking in and sort of having stuff forced down your throat, you can come in, buy what you need.

You know, if you’ve got questions about anything, Maddie is very knowledgeable about almost or just about all of the stock in the store, because she’s had hands on experience with the supplier, the ordering process, the whole chain, so often gets a lot of information.

And from our customers, a lot of the time the customers will come in, they’ll tell us what they’re cooking with their food. We’ll well, you know, receive, it’s always nice to receive little bits and pieces from them. We’ve got one fellow who makes his own cheeses, he brought us in some cheese. It’s fantastic.


Andreas: Some of the best cheese that we’ve had. And others will tell us about the, you know, they’ve decided to make, granola or cereal. We get a few people coming in making their own cereals that are more health conscious. You know, hemp seeds, LSA, all those bits and pieces, they add them to their sort of cereal combos and make their own healthy cereal. There’s a lot less sugar than a lot of the big cereal companies that you get, they are just sugar laden. And plastic everything, so much single use plastic. A lot of soft plastics in that sort of stuff. So it avoids on the soft plastics there too.

Maddie: I think what we do here is we really focus on minimising waste. I think it’s unrealistic in our modern day world to expect that there is zero waste. I think it’s about minimising waste. Yeah, that’s really, really the heart of this. Minimising your footprint.
Please take away from that. Where is the zero?

Andreas: Oh, yeah.

Maddie: It’s somewhere. Somewhere in our store has zero waste. It’s up the back. It’s not. It’s not our decision. It’s right. No, it’s. I think it might be outside on the banner outside. It says zero waste living and I don’t, I would like that removed at some point.

Maria (behind the camera): Maybe write ‘towards’…

Maddie: Towards! Yes. Yeah. Yeah yeah. Because I think you know representing your right brand image is important. Practice what you preach.

16:17- Chapter 9: How Products are Packaged & Shipped
Maddie: With our shampoo and conditioner, they arrive to us in big buckets. They, uh, get used, and then we keep the buckets, or we sell them on, or we,

Andreas: I thought we return them

Maddie: …get rid of them, you know, we reuse them.
So, our cleaning products, also arrive to us in big bucket, and we reuse the buckets in store. Or we sell them on. Nothing gets chucked out into the hard waste. It all just gets reused, at least, if not recycled. Our liquids from our dishwashing and laundry products all get recycled. And we’ve checked with the council to make sure of that as well.

And same with our tetra packs. So we’ve just recently brought in long life milks. We wanted an alternative to dairy because not everyone chooses to consume dairy. So with that, we contacted the local council. We made sure that we could recycle the tetra packs in this area before we just continue this system, this cycle, of single use and then throw out.

17:36- Chapter 10: Price vs Quality, Organic vs Non-Organic
Maddie: In terms of customers coming in and asking about the balance between price and quality and organic versus non-organic. What I say to people is, our store isn’t entirely organic because it’s not always doable. It’s not always, you know, the right price for them, and it’s not sustainable for them.

And if we want people to start buying into a sustainable lifestyle, it’s not about cutting out absolutely everything. It’s about reducing and making a conscious act to reduce rather than going extreme and saying, “No, I’m not buying this because of x, y, z.”

What I also say to people, and I guess it’s probably a passion point for me, is when people ask me, do you have this one in organic? And there are a couple of items in store that I have both organic from overseas and non-organic, but from Australia. And I say, well, what’s more important to you is the fact that it’s organic, more important to you, but you’re not caring about the food miles? Or is the food miles and the carbon footprint more important to you? But unfortunately, that might mean you’re buying conventional.

So I think for people, what I say to them is what are you more conscious of? What do you want in store? Because it’s our customers that make our store. But what are you more… what value do you hold more important? Is it that, do you care about food miles? Do you care about the impact on our oceans? Do you care about sound noise? Sorry, ocean noise from transport? Or do you care about sourcing local?

Do you care about paying local wages versus overseas? Do you care about the quality? What is more important to you? So I guess when people say to me something is price prohibitive, I ask them about what their values are, what they’re prepared to look for and is this the right fit or not?

Andreas: Often we also people can take what they please. They don’t have to buy the set amount that large chains sort of tell you to buy. So you buy what you need. You don’t have to buy in excess and a lot of the time, gram for gram, we’re either pretty price competitive or in some circumstances we do beat them. We either try and be better in terms of quality or we try to be better in terms of pricing.

But it’s always a fine balance because, you know, the big chains have, you know, economies of scale at their favour. So where we are stuck in some circumstances, but in others we have the upper hand, because we can offer the amount that you choose rather than, you know, you’ll take ten kilos and you won’t get upset about it. So yeah, it sort of swings in roundabouts in that regard.

Maddie: So I think the other thing we remind our customers is, what would you rather pay for? Do you want to shop online where you don’t have someone giving you advice? You don’t have someone telling you about their product knowledge. You don’t have any idea necessarily of where it comes from, how it got here. What has been the packaging process? What has been the environmental impact?

Would you rather just, you know, buy almost blind, or would you rather have someone, you know, take the time to know their product, know best, and give you the right advice? And also help you to work out what it is you need. Perhaps there are alternatives to what you actually want, and you know, someone taking the time to explain that is of value and is of some sort of value. So we sort of remind our customers that as well.
21:37- Chapter 11: Going Online SOON
Andreas: We’re developing an online store. We’re trying to have a much larger online presence because we are currently sort of, not isolated, but we limit ourselves to a local market. Which the people who come in to the store are fantastic, like I say, they share recipes, it’s a way that we learn a lot about, you know, the alternative uses of our products and bits and pieces.

But we would love to be able to extend that service out to the broader, broader public. Predominantly within Victoria, but interstate as well, wherever possible. So, yeah, we’re currently building the website, which is a pretty big task ahead. We have, I think I counted recently, we have close to 500 line items. So we’re not

Maddie: I go shopping for a living now!

Andreas: We’re not playing around when it comes to adding stock and managing stock. So finding the right system is one of the major hurdles for me and well for Maddie as well. Because she’s got to wait around while I um and ah about which system to use and who to use, because all of it’s up, you know, benefits that it has.

Our POS system is limited in other ways, so we’d love to be able to have something that’s all integrated. But and again, probably going to end up going with a website that is separate to it. And just developing that probably will take its time. But yes, we’ll have a full suite of products, offerings and bulk foods.

And we’ll be looking to, when we ship that out as well, we’ll continue the sustainable mission. We’re going to be using cardboard, paper, all that sort of stuff, we really want to try and avoid adding those unrecyclable plastics and sort of packaged air into the box, and having that sort of arrive at its destination in good order, but also unsustainably. So, where we can, we have been hoarding away, or Maddie’s been hoarding away lots and lots of recyclable packaging.

So, you know, when we do finally launch online, when you receive your package from us, it will be from recycled and recyclable packaging. Which I think is something that we’re pretty proud of, being able to sort of find a way to do that because transport can be a bit of a bugbear when it comes to packaging. It’s sort of, a lot of, understandably, retail stores want to receive their goods looking great and in saleable quality. But that does mean that there’s a lot of, you receive your item and you just have got to throw away half of the packaging, because it was there to absorb any damages while in shipping.

Maddie: I have an entire storeroom upstairs of packaging that I’ve collected from boxes that I’ve received in store. And it’s a lot of packaging. But, you know, even if something is recyclable or compostable, biodegradable – to get more, you’re still making a carbon footprint. So why wouldn’t you just reduce, store away what you have and reuse it at another time? That’s probably a strong ethos that we have here. Don’t just go for, I guess, greenwashing in a way, don’t just go for, you know, just because something’s a compostable, biodegradable, low impact item, doesn’t mean you have to buy brand new every single time. Reuse what you have.

25:46- Chapter 12: Outro
Voiceover: Thank you for tuning in to part one. Check out part two where our guests give amazing tips on sustainability and sustainable travel.
Follow us on social media @sustainarootravels, and you can check out the resources we’ve got up on our website at

About the Owners of Providence Foods Ferntree Gully

Sustainability has always been at the forefront of Maddie’s mind. She has volunteered for Environment Victoria and Australian Conservation Foundation in the past, and has also spent years as a social worker. She has moved onto doing life coaching, tarot and flower essences, and now also running Providence Foods. Maddie has brought a great love of the environment and lowering her impact into everything she does.

Maddie is always conscious of what waste is being generated by what we do, and is passionate about minimising it. She believes we must consider how we are treating the planet before making any decisions. With this in mind, Maddie has invested in making this beautiful store along with her partner Andreas.

Andreas started out as a mechanic and now works in IT as well as Providence Foods. He has been disappointed to see the pollution and lack of sustainability practices in industries. He believes we can’t expect to change the big corporations all in one go, but we as individuals can make small changes ourselves. Our small individual changes will impact the larger corporations as they will start to follow the purchasing trends. He encourages us to vote with our dollar, and make sustainable choices at the individual level. When enough people are doing that, it will encourage bigger change in industry and government.

Maddie and Andreas are making a difference in their community by running Providence Foods. They are including workshops, treatments, naturopath visits, an online store and more.

What is a Bulk Food Store?

Providence Foods’s ‘How to use our store’ sign
(how amazing!)

A bulk food store is different to other stores as instead of having food packaged in certain quantities, often in plastic, at a bulk food store the owner buys the pantry items in bulk themselves. Then they have the items available in large containers and you can buy as much or as little as you like of a certain item – minus the plastic packaging, of course.

They can also be known as a bulk stores. However you shouldn’t confuse them with the wholesale type of stores like Costco that are sometimes referred to as a bulk buy store. At bulk buy stores, you can buy large quantities of items but they are not necessarily any more sustainable than a normal supermarket.

You also sometimes hear bulk food stores being called a bring your own container store or a refill shop. Sometimes it can be called a zero waste shop. It depends where in the world you are and what the owners like to call it!

Sometimes health food stores will have a bulk food section. Also many markets may have a bulk food stall so keep an eye out!

At Providence Foods, and at bulk food stores in general, there is a focus on organic, local, natural or ethical suppliers. Depending on your own values and what means the most to you, you will be able to choose the items that suit you. There is a choice of a lot of organic food and brands, as well as local, sustainable, ethical and natural options. If you’re looking for sustainable gifts, you’ve also found the right place!

As it is a value based choice, as a customer it is useful to have a think about what is more important to you. As your browse the isles, you can consider the different options. Is buying organic more important to you? Is it buying local and avoiding food miles? What are you more conscious of? Getting to know your own beliefs and values will help steer your decisions when you shop.

There is a focus on making sure that the products in store are not single use, that are environmentally conscious and have a lower impact. Generating less waste in the running of the store is important.

If you only visit a bulk food store once or twice, you may not notice the difference it makes right away. However if you start going regularly to refill your containers, you will find a lot less rubbish going in your bin. This is because a lot of the containers you use are getting refilled instead of thrown away.

Zero Waste Shopping at Providence Foods

Providence Foods Bulk Food Store- inside view of zero waste shopping
Providence Foods Bulk Food Store- inside view of zero waste shopping

In our society, calling something zero waste can be misleading. Expecting ourselves to meet an ideal of zero waste shopping is pretty much impossible. At Providence Foods, and at other bulk food stores, the idea is not to set yourself a perfect standard that no one can achieve. It is more about working towards zero waste, about minimising waste and making conscious choices about how we shop. 

With that in mind, there is no minimum buy, so you can buy exactly the amount you need for a recipe. For example, you can buy one cup of flour, or a small amount of ground cinnamon.

Fill up your own containers or use their free compostable paper bags at the store for refills. Or buy reusable glass containers to fill up what you need from their bulk containers. They have a great selection of bulk foods to choose from including grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, and flours. There are also gluten free pastas, mueslis, snacks like muesli bars, coffee beans, rice crackers, chocolates, lunchbox fillers, tea, spices and many more goodies.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can buy larger quantities to stock up your pantry. You can ask to order for example a 12.5kg bag of flour – if you will use this within the use by date, then it is a more sustainable way to shop as it means you only have one package for all of it.

This also saves you time shopping, as you don’t have to run to the store every time you’ve used 1kg of flour. If you buy a large quantity, store it carefully in an airtight container in your pantry, and it will last a year. You can even extend the life of it by freezing it. So have a think about what you can buy in larger quantities and have a chat to the owners about what they can order for you. Often there is a discount for buying a large amount as well.

It can be inspiring to look around when you’re at the store, and come up with recipes and food combinations to cook up. For example there are all the ingredients you could want to make your own muesli at home! Let your imagination run wild as you look around.

There’s also liquids you can refill like soy sauce, oil, vinegar and more, as well as a selection of cleaning product refills like shampoo, conditioner, hand and body wash, dishwashing liquid and more. There is a freshly pressed peanut butter and almond butter machine as well (which makes the best nut butters). You can get this into your own container too.

All the refill options are always fresh and often rotated, to make sure what you buy is in great quality.

Bring Your Own Container

When you bring your own container, it doesn’t matter if it’s half full with product. There is a scale at the store where you weigh the container, and then use a texta and masking tape to write on the container how much it weighs.

Then you fill the container with what you like, and bring it to the counter, and the weight of the container will be deducted from the total weight, so that you just pay for the weight of the item inside.

The system is largely self serve, but if you need help Maddie can do it for you or talk you through the process.

They are very mindful of cross contamination, so there are individual spoons or tongs for each tub of product.

The great thing about this is that when the container is empty, you wash it, and bring it back to refill, instead of throwing it away. This both saves new containers from needing to be manufactured, and saves the old container from going to landfill (or if we’re lucky, having to be recycled).

Some Sustainability Practices at Providence Foods

At Providence Foods, Maddie and Andreas consider what will be done with the jar or package after what’s inside has been used. Some products are in recyclable plastic containers. Glass jars and cans are prioritised as they are more readily able to be recycled. There is a focus on avoiding items that will be sent straight to landfill. And there is a focus on biodegradable materials to be used for packaging.

They try to reduce the shop’s footprint as well, considering how the items they buy will be packaged, sent or picked up from suppliers. They work with carefully chosen suppliers, and the products that get shipped to the store come wrapped in honeycomb paper packaging or paper. They keep the packaging they receive to reuse. 

Maddie believes that just because an item is recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, that doesn’t mean you should buy it new and then just dispose of it – is it ideal to reuse it, so she tries to reuse all the packaging she receives from suppliers.

There is consideration about how a container can be reused in store, or in the home.

Often we go to a store and buy a package of food, the food is in a plastic container, and as soon as the food is gone, the container gets thrown away. These often end up in landfill, as there is too many plastic containers in the world and they cannot all be recycled.

From a more sustainable mindset, we want to think about the product’s whole life cycle, not just the one use it has. So a container can be refilled, or reused, instead of just thrown away.

Maddie has checked with the local council to confirm that the plastic containers and tetra packs from the long life milk are getting properly recycled locally. This will depend on the local area, so if you’re not sure about your area it is a good idea to check with your local council.

At Providence Foods they want to gently steer people towards a more sustainable way of living. They believe that once the consumer seeks out and buys more sustainable items, this will push the bigger corporations to become more sustainable. The bigger corporations will move towards what people are buying. So you can make a huge difference in the world by sending the message with the habits you have in your everyday shopping.

You might think you’re only one small person and it makes no difference, but you may find many other people have the same values as you. Think about a mosquito in a tent, and how much difference it makes when it’s there. You can make your own ripples, have discussions with people, and be a voice for the things you believe in. Choosing to shop at more sustainable shops like Providence Foods creates an impact not only for your own habits and household, but also with the conversations you will start because of it.

Sustainability not about being perfect, it is not about trying to be “zero” waste and cutting out everything that’s not perfect, and making huge changes, it is about making small steps, reducing waste where you can and making conscious choices. We cannot be perfect in our world, but the aim is to minimise the waste. Aiming ‘towards’ zero waste is a better way to think about it.

Things to Look Out for when at Providence Foods

Not everything can be placed in a bulk container for refills, so there are a selection of pantry items that are in more sustainable packaging. Providence Foods avoids single use plastics where possible so there are glass jars and cans of tomato sauce and paste, jams, mustards and more.

They stock milk and cheese from a local farm called Bassine Specialty Cheese. The milk is in glass bottles!

Also there is a selection of sustainable items like dish scrubs, shampoo and conditioner bars, toothpaste powders, reusable coffee mugs, reusable bags and lots more.

Check out the selection of soaps, face oil and scar serum from L’ada Soap and Scents which are great sustainable alternatives.

Providence Foods has a selection of sustainable gifts, home and personal care items like sustainable gift cards and wrapping paper, plants, pots, mugs, kitchenware, skin care, sunscreen and the like.

Not Just a Store

Maddie and Andreas are working on an online store, so watch this space. When it’s ready you’ll be able to order your refills online in Victoria and potentially Australia wide depending on location. Your order will be wrapped in paper and sustainable packaging that they have reused and recycled from their suppliers.

Remember, they have a wealth of knowledge so ask any questions about recipes, food or sustainability while you are in store. They also love hearing from you so share your favourite recipes with them.

Someone’s Story – Little Library

There is also a bookshelf for a movement called Someone’s Story. You can use it as a  book swap, or you can leave a donation and keep the book. There are some adult’s books and some kids ones, as well toys for kids to play with while you shop. You can donate books to it as well. The donations raised are used for local charities.

Practitioner & Workshop Rooms

Providence Foods has a room upstairs available for workshop hire and has various practitioners working there too.

Maddie hosts workshops on health, wellbeing and sustainability for the community.
You can even book life coaching, tarot and flower essence appointments with Maddie.
Sessions can be online or in person.

There is also reiki, kinesiology and root cause counselling available, the practitioners sometimes change with availability so contact in store for more info and to see what is available.

Check Out Providence Foods

New website and online store coming soon:

Shop 24
1880 Ferntree Gully Rd
Ferntree Gully

Phone: 0451 046 451