A FAMILY-RUN zero waste shop in north Essex is challenging people to go plastic-free this month.

Clacton-based refill shop UnSealed, in The Grove in the town centre, opened in December to give environmentally-minded shoppers the chance to limit their reliance on single-use plastics.

Mother and daughter team, Zoe Tipple and Kayleigh Seal, offer the opportunity to bring re-useable vessels to buy dried loose foods, cleaning products and other items.

They are now urging regular shoppers and residents across north Essex to join the Plastic Free July challenge.

Kayleigh said: "Plastic Free July is a global movement organised by the Plastic Free Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2017.

"Their belief is that small changes add up to a big difference.

"The campaign inspires and helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

"We want people here to be part of Plastic Free July by choosing to refuse single-use plastics and join thousands of people across the country who are taking on the challenge and reducing their plastic waste.

"Why would you make something that you’re going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever, and you’re just going to throw it away."

Kayleigh added that simple things people can do to 'say no' to plastic include always carrying your own re-usable produce and shopping bags and avoid pre-packed fruit, vegetables, greeting cards and magazines.

She added: "UnSealed is a local, independent packaging free refill shop where you can buy a variety of dried bulk foods, oils and vinegars and natural cleaning products in your own reusable containers.

"We also sell a variety of sustainable home ware, travel and hygiene products, which until recently were only available to purchase online.

"We can all go plastic-free by buying a re-usable drinks cup for your favourite beverage on the go.

"Using your own cup will get you discount at independent businesses in Clacton, including A Cup of Coffee, the Coffee Bean Café and the Pit Stop sandwich shop.

"Choosing to refuse single-use plastic water bottles can be as simple as re-filling an existing bottle or purchasing on of the many reusable ones on offer.

"We offer a free water bottle refill service and will be trying to get other business involved with the National Refill initiative."

Other independent local businesses are also urging people to reduce their plastic waste.

"A Wenn & Sons butchers, Clacton Pet Stores and The Bakehouse are happy to serve you in your own bags and containers," added Kayleigh.

"It is time to rethink party plastics too, including balloons, glitter, banners, plates and cutlery.

"With a few changes we can all do our bit for a brighter greener tomorrow.

"Nine out of ten people who took part in the challenge last year made changes that have become a way of life.

"It’s all about noticing your plastic purchases and choosing better alternatives."

Last week daytrippers were criticised for dumping waste on Clacton's beach after lockdown restrictions were eased.

Michael Talbot, Tendring Council's cabinet member for the environment, said: "Efforts such as this to encourage local people and visitors to use less plastics that cannot be reused are to be applauded.

"We must discourage people from using single-use plastic and just slinging them in the street or on the beach.

"We are a coastal area and many plastics end up in the sea, so they must be disposed of properly.

"If plastics must be used they should be made firm so they can be used again and again - or if not, they should be biodegradable."

You can sign up with the campaign at plasticfreejuly.org or find out about plastic-free tips at loveessex.org.