AN eco-friendly shop owner is celebrating her first year in business after ir proved a hit with the community.

Amanda Hedges, from Braintree, previously worked full time for a housing association, before leaving to jump into her own business venture, opening up a zero waste shop.

Naturally Unwrapped opened last November in the Blake House Craft Centre in Braintree.

Amanda said: “I was frustrated at the amount of unnecessary plastic and packaging from my shopping and increasingly concerned at the impact this was having on our environment, from the manufacturing stage to disposal. 

“I decided I would like to shop in a different way, with less packaging, less food waste and have more knowledge about where our goods are from and how they reach us and the impact this has on people and the planet.

“I thought if I wanted to shop in this way, there must be other people who would also like to."

Amanda said she has enjoyed her first year but was unsure of how the venture would go when taking the plunge.

She loves meeting new customers and listening to their enthusiasm for wanting to help the environment.

Throughout her first year, Amanda said the shop has tried to follow customers’ needs and has nearly doubled its stock.

Naturally Unwrapped also introduced fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as freshly baked bread and cakes from other businesses in the area.

There will also be the introduction of loose, plastic-free frozen foods in the new year.

Amanda thanked the community for the support she has received and is hoping people will get involved at Christmas.

She said: “The response has been amazing, every day I meet new people who are keen to make a difference.

“People are so kind with their comments about the shop, we have many regular customers and I’m so grateful to each and everyone who comes through the door to support my small business, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn't for all of them.

“With Christmas on its way, I just want people to try to purchase as earth conscious as possible.

“What difference can I make, I’m only one person, said seven billion people.”