With many of us keen to support our local high streets and small businesses in the coming months and years, we wanted to publish a blog about local refill stores, waste free shopping and our favourite zero waste shop in Essex.
Did you know, more than 350 miles of Essex is coastline? Great Britain has 31,368km of coastline. Essex is the county with the 2nd longest coastline, after Cornwall. Great Britain has 401,975 miles of waterways too.
As a country surrounded by water, and a county with an impressive amount of coastline too, we can all do a little to help reduce packaging waste and avoid it reaching our natural water systems. Whether you litter or not, litter pick or not, disposable packaging is a shared problem.
Recycling alone is not the answer. In Essex, it’s not uncommon to see recyclable packaging blowing down the road on windy days, escaped from well intentioned dustbin owners.
The best way to help Essex and its waterways be litter free, is to stop single-use packaging at the source. This is just one of the reasons we choose to shop as much as possible from zero waste stores.
In this blog, we’ll look at some of the products available in refill stores, your refill shopping options in Essex and my top 3 zero waste stores in the county.
The First Zero Waste Shop in Essex
To my knowledge, the first ‘refill store’ opened in Essex in 2018. That said, stores and markets offering loose household products for empty jars or baskets would have been common place across the county before the introduction of cheap plastics in the early 1950s.
Refilling is not new. In fact, when you consider consumer habits across the world and throughout human history, it’s by far the more normal and natural way to shop. It would seem we got a little distracted with shiny new plastics in the last 70 years. We’re thrilled to be part of a generation striving to bring back zero waste shopping. We hope to see it become the norm once again.
Do you have an old photo of a store in Essex before single use packaging became the norm? We’d love to feature it in this blog. Old sweet shops, soap stores, green grocers; let’s see them!
Have you got a modern company or product to share that’s available in a zero waste way in Essex?
Whether you are a small business who has a zero waste section within your store, an individual selling a local zero waste product online or a market stall holder in Essex, leave a comment below so our readers can find you. Alternatively, contact me about your product or location being featured in this blog or on our Instagram page.
My Top 3 Zero Waste Shops in Essex
I’ve been shopping zero waste in Essex for the last 3 years, ever since the first modern refill store opened in our county. Now, there are quite a few choices and we anticipate more refill shops opening their doors in the coming years. Here are my favourite 3 places to shop zero waste in Essex.
1. The Refill Room
Address: 15 Elm Rd, Leigh-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea, Leigh-on-Sea SS9 1SW
The Refill Room in Leigh on Sea was the first modern zero waste store to open in Essex in 2018. I remember visiting Leigh-on-Sea immediately after our travels to Australia (where we had first experienced zero waste shopping). Being so keen … I arrived a few weeks too early and the store was not yet open!
Needless to say, I instantly became a regular customer, choosing to travel to Leigh-on-Sea to do much of my household shopping in bulk every 3 months instead of buying packaged products from supermarkets. Whether you are a local resident or not, Leigh-on-Sea makes for an excellent day out in Essex. The Refill Room now also take online deliveries too for all mainland U.K. shoppers.
You may like this Eco Day Out Itinerary in Leigh on Sea.
2. The Reco Store
Address: Tower Business Park, Tiptree, Colchester CO5 0LX
Once the pandemic began last year, I started looking for a refill store a little closer to home. I was thrilled to meet the lovely owners of The Reco Store in Tiptree who served me from the railings outside their small store during some of 2020. I was welcomed with a smile and glorious sunshine each time I visited. My recommendations include many of their organic dry food products, such as zero waste pastas, flours and loose leaf teas.
The Reco Store also stock locally made, plastic free products, like heavenly body lotions from The Maldon Soap Co. More recently, owners Elise and Susie have opened a second Reco Store in South Woodham Ferrers too. I am yet to visit but I’m sure it enjoys the same warm welcome I found at the Tiptree store. Have you been?
3. Green Pear Eco
Address: Online Shop
As events continued with regards to the pandemic, I began looking for a refill store even closer to home or one that would deliver to my front door instead. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found Green Pear Eco based in Saffron Walden.
Not only do they offer nationwide refill delivery from home, they do so using 5L containers which are part of a closed-loop-system. They can also refill your upcycled empty jars on your doorstep if you live in the Saffron Walden area. Find out if your postcode is included and which day your delivery is here.
I recently received my very first Green Pear Eco delivery and got to know owners Dan and Gabs. I was so impressed with their refill on your doorstep service and enthusiasm for what they do. We instantly discovered a shared enthusiasm for a travel-inspired plastic boycott and its wonderful to have connected with them in my local area.
As well as refills, Dan and Gabs offer a range of every day essential products like this eco sponge or these bamboo cotton buds. As if they weren’t already cool enough, they also plant trees for orders over £10 and have currently planted 1481! Visit them at a local market, order 5L jerry cans for nationwide delivery or arrange for your own bottles to be refilled without leaving the house.
SPECIAL OFFER: Get 5% off at Green Pear Eco using code TNEG-GPE-5
Plastic Free Shopping Online
Of course, Essex is not alone in its fight against unnecessary packaging. In other counties across the U.K. and towns and cities worldwide, this simpler way of shopping is gaining momentum. We’d love to hear about your local zero waste store outside of Essex for when we travel. It also might be useful for readers not living in the Essex area who enjoy this blog.
If you don’t have a local zero waste store where you live yet, don’t fret. Many online zero waste stores are now available too. For worldwide delivery, we recommend Acala Online (although they and I would always urge you to shop close to home if possible to support your local economy and avoid shipping impacts).
Some of my local favourites also deliver to other parts of the U.K. Support Essex-based Green Pear Eco who offer their closed loop refill service nationwide. The products in this range are shipped in 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled) containers. Returns cost £2.50 but they give you £1 credit per can returned, so once you return three, you’ve offset this cost.
Do you love the British coastline and wild spaces?
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Visit Your Local Zero Waste Shop in Essex
Whether you’re a ‘Zero Waste Shop Virgin’ or a ‘Weighing Scales and Funnel Pouring Pro’ visit your local refill store and give it a go. You might be surprised how much fun you have weighing out your food and toiletries! If you would prefer not to visit shops in person, take full advantage of Green Pear Eco’s online shop or one of the other delivery services mentioned in this blog.
By making a purchase from one of the links on this page, a small portion of the money you spend goes to The Natural Essex Girl. Thank you for supporting our small business and the local eco companies we support.
Shopping in an eco conscious way is an old habit that is quickly securing heaps of modern approval and popularity. Have you tried it yet? What are you waiting for! Happy eco shopping to all our fellow Earth Warriors.