A NEW community store is helping East Oxford residents ditch single-use plastic in favour of buying food and other household items unpackaged.

Flo’s Refill Shop, which opened last month in Florence Park, sells everything from pasta, oats, and lentils to SESI washing liquids and detergents via reusable containers.

Its website states: "Our products are sold by weight or volume, which means you can buy exactly what you want, and bring back the empty container for more."

Based in Flo's, the former Florence Park Children's Centre which was transformed by families last year into a community hub, it is an offshoot of the centre's work.

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Makena Lohr, co-centre manager, said: “We’re always looking for ways to make Flo’s self-sustaining with side enterprises so the refill shop is part of that."

She said the idea came directly from centre users, who raised the concept as part of an online survey, and there had been a steady stream of customers since it officially opened on June 8.

Ms Lohr added: "I think it is now just about getting the word out there. A benefit is we're also able to respond to what people want to buy, so we've already increased our stock to include muesli, nuts and seeds."

venue hire.

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The new business has been given an extra boost thanks to a five-star hygiene rating following an inspection by Oxford City Council’s health team last month.

Ms Lohr said the score was 'very important', explaining: "It gets things off to a good start but it's more than that. Because we are dealing with unpackaged food it is even more crucial than usual to have hygiene done properly."

Botley Road's Waitrose is currently running an 11-week trial of reducing the amount of packaging at the supermarket.

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The 'unpacked' store has fruit and veg free from containers, while customers can also get refills on food staples, plus wine and beer.

But Ms Lohr said what sets Flo's Refill Shop apart from its more commercially-focused competitor is that all the money raised will help keep Flo's going.

She said: "All the profit from the shop goes directly back into funding the centre and its projects.

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"Our budget is tight so this helps us be sustainable."

Products come from Infinity Foods organic wholesaler and from SESI Food and Household Refills, an Oxfordshire social enterprise run by husband and wife Rina Melendez and Paul Godden.

Flo’s Refill Shop is staffed by a mixture of staff and volunteers and is currently open every Wednesday and Saturday between 12.30pm and 5pm. Visit flosoxford.org.uk.