PLASTIC free shopping is on the rise as the topic of climate change becomes more important than ever.

Plastic Free July is a global initiative by the Plastic Free Foundation to help solve plastic pollution and encourage people to refuse single-use plastic.

The campaign is now in its tenth year but founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz did not expect its success.

Rebecca said: “In 2011 when I first tried to avoid single-use plastic for a month, I never imagined how Plastic Free July would grow.

“It’s amazing to reflect on the rapid worldwide uptake of the challenge, with people making positive changes in their own lives and in their communities, schools, and workplaces.

“It inspires real impact and continues to influence businesses and governments to make systemic changes.

“I have no doubt the next ten years will continue to grow and become even more relevant with Plastic Free July being a critical pathway for change, making a difference in working towards a world without plastic waste.”

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In 2018, Collins Dictionary declared ‘single-use’ as the word of the year.

Since then, the number of plastic free shops across Essex has risen.

According to Love Essex, there are now more than 25 across the county.

Founder of Colcheco in Colchester, Rachel Smith said plastic pollution is the “primary problem we face” but the solution is simple.

Rachel said: “We absolutely hate the fact that so many containers and bottles are made out of plastic with the intention of being discarded after the product has been used knowing that it won’t break down and will become a permanent pollutant in our environment.

“It seems ridiculous.

Gazette: Plastic free- Rachel Smith runs Colcheco in Colchester

“We, as a shop, believe there are so many alternatives for people, such as refilling containers that are sitting in the cupboard, trying bars instead of liquids and using non-plastic shopping bags.We love being able to help people make these positive changes.

“We can all make small changes that will make a massive difference collectively to our communities.

“If we all substituted these products for refills or bars, then we would have less litter on our streets, oceans would be cleaner, wildlife would be happier, and we would have much healthier environments.”

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Richard Sambridge, from The Natural Way in Braintree, said consumers choosing to buy package-free will make a “big impact” on the planet.

He said: “As a shop overall we minimise our own black sack waste and have a cardboard recycling company pick up our cardboard and the council take away all our other recyclable waste.

“If we can as consumers decide to buy goods that are “package free” or re-use containers we already have at home, this will make a big impact on our planet.”

Earlier this year Feering became the first place in Essex to achieve a plastic-free status after a campaign launched by a resident.

Marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) awarded the accolade to the village in recognition of the work residents have done to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment after a campaign launched by Danielle Levart.

Kelvedon and Feering Cricket Club and Prested Hall both joined the initiative, replacing disposable items, such as plastic straws, bottles, and cups, with more environmentally friendly options.

Organisations such as Feering Rainbows and the community centre have also joined Feering Parish Council in a pledge to reduce their single-use plastic.