A guide to student-friendly toiletries plastic reduction: blog series

A guide to student-friendly toiletries plastic reduction: blog series by SDG Ambassador Julia

It’s #plasticfreeJuly! There are so many reasons to start reducing your plastic consumption and join the plastic-free hype! Reducing your carbon footprint or plastic consumption may not be the first thing on your mind right now with a global pandemic afoot, but if this something you’d like to try out, this series might be of interest!

Having said that, there are many perks to going plastic free specifically with your toiletries at this particular time. I don’t know about you, but I am still finding that the regular pharmacies or drug stores still don’t stock my go-to products. Why not try something new in a time when we are literally washing our hands to save lives.

For the first blog in this series I’d like to introduce Ethique. I tried Ethique mostly because I had been following them on Instagram for a while and was super intrigued by their products (top tip: how do you find ethical/plastic free brands? Instagram). Their tag line is #giveupthebottle and according to their website, claim to be plastic free, cruelty free, palm oil free and vegan which checked all the boxes for my personal preferences. They are also more accessible as they are sold online at Holland & Barrett, both in store and online and are also now sold by Boots online.

My initial thought was that the pricing was way over what I would usually budget for these kinds of products, but I am willing to invest in a product if it lasts longer than something that I paid less for. I tried a bunch of products, purchased their trial pack for oily skin, a moisturiser and a soap container. I also tried to buy most products when they were on sale.

From personal use, I have two stand-products that I can confidently say they worked well for my skin type. This review is based on my personal experience with the products so I can’t speak for all skin or hair types! For reference, my skin and hair are both oily.

Stand-out product 1 – Star of the show

Ethique Gingersnap Face Scrub. Price: £12.99

I purchased the multipack of Gingersnap Face Scrub without realising it was already included in the trial pack that I had also purchased. I was annoyed at this until I tried one and instead, I was delighted. This scrub is very, very good. I used it once a day, in the shower as a precursor to the facewash and have continued to enjoy the multipack after the trial one was used up. It lasts a while as long as you don’t get it too wet in the shower and is very easy to use. I’d say each bar probably lasted about a month making the 4 pack last about 4 months but may not be as cheap. I have tried many an exfoliation product and this has to be one of the best ones. Considering you average about £3.25 for each individual bar in the pack, I’d say this is around the same price as decent scrub you’d get at Boots or Superdrug.

Stand-out product 2 – Honourable mention

Ethique Sweet Orange and Vanilla Butter Block. Price: £11.99

The butter block was the most luxurious product out of all the products. The scent is quite strong but not overpowering but is sweet smelling – definitely a win if you are a fan of sweet and fruity scents. The instructions say to use it right after showering but I found it would kind of slide off my skin a bit too much. If used on dry skin though, it worked much better. Storage-wise it is a bit tricky. Warm surroundings will cause the oils to seep into whatever container you keep it in so be sure to keep it in something substantial. It is very moisturising and I used it every other day or every two days on my arms and legs. I think for the price it is impractical to purchase this on the regular, but as a gift for a friend or if you find it on sale, a gift for yourself.

Overall, I enjoyed the products that I purchased from Ethique but found that some either didn’t work as well as other products I have used or I found them expensive for what they were and therefore haven’t included them in this budget conscious review. Thank you so much for reading this far and I hope you enjoyed the first post of this blog series. I hope to do a couple more brand reviews as part of this series so watch this space!

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I purchased these items with my own money, they are not a gift nor is this post sponsored.

Ethique’s website: https://ethique.co.uk/

Ethique at Boots: https://www.boots.com/sitesearch?searchTerm=Ethique

Ethique at Holland & Barrett: https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/info/ethique/

Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador: Meet Julia

A bit about me: Julia Daly

Trying plastic-free toiletries so you don’t have to

In a simpler time – before the global pandemic – as the new academic year began, I had made it my personal mission to reduce my plastic consumption within the realm of my toiletries. It may seem a trivial place to start but even everyday toiletries such as shower gel can be really harmful to the environment and many are contained in plastic bottles which aren’t often recycled (We Are Drops, 2018). Shower gels can also contain microplastics which can harm marine wildlife (Rosney, 2016). Considering all of this and the nature of plastic itself, taking years to degrade, as a conservation student, I have challenged myself to reduce my plastic consumption.

From my reading of the topic over the last couple of years, from blogs to Instagram and speaking to others, it seems the main reasons that people haven’t already gone for reduced plastic toiletries is 1. the convenience of getting it at the nearest shop or pharmacy 2. the price as plastic free options are often more expensive. These are of course valid points especially for busy students who don’t have the time to be trekking to specialist stores to pay double or tipple what they could get with less hassle. Saving that coin for nights out or textbooks – I totally relate. Being a student ambassador and being part of the sustainability community at Kent provided a platform to feedback on putting these assumptions to the test and trying out some of these alternative products so that you can save your time, money and energy.

Since starting at the University of Kent in 2019, I have been purchasing a range of plastic free, or plastic reduced products from many different brands, both online and in store, to try and see if there are any good plastic free alternative toiletry products that are accessible to students and are worth the money. I bought and tried them so you don’t have to. The result of my experience will be a series of blog posts on the stand-out products that I recommend having weighed up their use, convenience, aesthetics, accessibility, and price. If you are looking to start your plastic free journey but have no idea where to start, are well on your journey but are looking to expand your toiletry bag, or are merely interested in the topic then watch this space!

Check these out for further information…

We Are Drops, 2018. Soap vs. shower gel: the final battle. Available from: https://www.wearethedrops.com/blog/en/2018/01/23/soap/ [Accessed 30 May 2020].

Rosney, D., 2016. BBC Newsbeat. Why microbeads in shower gels are bad for marine life. Available from: www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/35261018/why-microbeads-in-shower-gels-are-bad-for-marine-life [Accessed 30 May 2020].

 

How to be Fashionable and Sustainable in University

This a second blog post from Tinu, one of the University’s Sustainable Development Goals Ambassadors. Find her first post by clicking on this link – How to be more sustainable in everyday life

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Shop at Thrift Stores

Thrifting has been here for generations and is getting widely popular! 

Tip: try thrift shopping in high-end neighbourhoods. sometimes you might find designer items that have been barley used. 

Borrow and Trade

On campus there are tons of people and someone always need something done for them! Use your skills if it means a tutor session for a pair of jeans or just borrowing your dorm mates top for a night out!

Fight impulse shopping 

With the popularity of online shopping, it is so easy to just click add to cart these days. However, it is best to avoid this! Fast fashion clothes are made in mass production at high speeds to keep up with trends at an affordable price. Then you are left with the quality being poor after a few washes…say no and invest in good quality clothes!!

Use Buy and Sell Apps 

In the world of technology humans are connected more than ever! Use apps like the Goat app to find shoes, and Depop or Poshmark for shopping! 

How to be More Eco Friendly In your Everyday Life!

This is the first blog post from one of the University’s new Sustainable Development Goals Ambassadors. The SDGs Ambassadors are students that are helping to spread the word about the SDGs to their peers and demonstrate how we can all be a part of this extraordinary movement to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

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Hi! 

My name is Tinu and I became a University of Kent, Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador because, from childhood, I have been passionate about human and environmental rights issues and these passions have played out in every choice I have made. In Elementary school, I started an Environmental club and worked with Greenpeace Canada to enforce proper recycling of products. Since 2016 I have been a graphic designer for the Hope for Us Charity whose goal is to improve the H.E.S.I of African countries. H.E.S.I. which stands for Healthcare, Education, Sustainability and Advocacy against Social Injustices. My interests in these topics are even reflected in my previous educational studies, where I studied: International Business, World Issues and Environment with Resource Management. In my World Issues course, we dedicated part of the semester to focus on the United Nations SDG goals, allowing me to be quite familiar with the different goals. As well as in my Environment and Resource Management course, where we studied sustainable living. I am a strong believer that it is our responsibility as humans to take care of the planet and everything on it

How to be More Eco Friendly In your Everyday Life!

Start Timing Your Showers

We all love to spend time in the shower as they can be relaxing and a great place to practice our vocal lessons. However extended showers can use up to 17.2 gallons of water! Make an effort to reduce your shower time by setting goals and timing yourself!

 Buy Products with less packaging and try to not buy things that come in Styrofoam or Plastic 

When you go the store try to see how many items you can buy that are package less or don’t use as much plastic! Try shopping at bulk stores. 

Pro tip: The healthier the food the less packaging it usually has. 

Environmentally Friendly Toothbrushes

What’s something we do every day? (at least I hope so) Brush your teeth! Toothbrushes are something that we all use however they are plastic 🙁 which ends up in our landfills. Invest in an electrical toothbrush or Bamboo. 

Metal and Paper Straws 

I’m sure you have heard “save the turtles” multiple times this year and that is because its true! Straws take 200 years to decompose and, in most places, cannot be recycled. Straws are also the 11th most found item in the ocean! (Ocean Conservancy 2018)

So, what to do? Use a metal Straw which you can get for cheap online in packs! or ask for paper straws when you order beverages. 

Reusable Water Bottles 

Instead of using plastic cups and water bottles keep a good quality BPA free water bottle with you! Quit buying bottled water. Instead, get a water bottle that you can refill.

 Pro Tip: Most restaurants and boutique drink shops will give you money off your drink if you bring your own cup 

Going Shopping? 

Say no thanks, to the cheap plastic bags they give you and bring your own bags or keep items in your cart without bagging them and put them directly into your car 

 Use E-tickets for movies, flights and other events instead of printing! 

Tip: Apple phones have an app called Wallet where you can store e- tickets and cards 

Wash your clothes in cold water

Cold water uses less energy, which saves the planet and your water bill! 

 

Introducing our new Student Sustainable Goals Ambassadors (Part Two)

Celina

Hey!!

My name is Celina, and I’m basically a product of 3 different countries; Born in Portugal, but my family is from this little island called Sao Tome (which you’ve probably never heard about, but it’s okay!), however, I consider London to be my home now.

I am studying Biomedical Sciences, and I am on my first year. I’ve chosen this course because, although I’ve had many career aspirations when I was younger, caring for people and somehow contribute to a happier and better world has always been a consistent theme for me.

I am quite a simple person to be honest, and enjoy the most generic things you can think about, like watching movies, dancing, learning about new cultures, going out with friends and partying, you know…nothing too out of the ordinary really!

Now, why am I interested in sustainability?

The concept of sustainability was something that I’ve been hearing about for a long time. However, it was first taught to me in a very traditional sense; “climate change is bad” “the ice caps are melting” “the sea levels are rising” “biodiversity is decreasing substantially”, which sadly, are all true and terrifying. But it has never crossed my mind how much more interlinked sustainability is with many of the important issues that are currently going on.

When we take, for instance, the example of gender equality, and we look at the fact that only in 42 countries do woman hold more than 30% of the national legislature seats, or that girls still do not have the same educational opportunities as boys in countries in western Asia for example, we might think “oh, how unfortunate”. But by taking this further, we can reach the conclusion that this will make them more prone to suffering the effects of climate change; in a place where girls and woman are uneducated, they are much more likely to be responsible for providing their families with food or water, and if these sources are disrupted as a result of climate change, then they would have to travel further and spend more time looking for that water, which in turn decreases their chances of getting education, creating a vicious cycle with seemingly no end.

This is just one example of how sustainability applies to social, economic and environmental issues, and how it isn’t “just” about “the polar bears dying” (which I honestly don’t understand why it isn’t enough to make people take this more seriously, I mean, look at them!)


But it does concerns so many other things, and in a lot of cases, it will be the most vulnerable people who will end up living the consequences. Actual human lives are at stake here, and something needs to be done.

Learning about all about these things and much more, made me want to act; Sustainability affects everyone everywhere, and it is our responsibility! We must do something about it. Thinking about what is happening and how preventable it is, is to me as hopeful as it is infuriating. But I do have hope, and I do think that bit by bit, we can encourage more and more people to change the way they see sustainability.

Which goal am I passionate about and why?

While I consider all 17 goals to be of great importance, since they are so strongly interlinked with both sustainability and the things I am personally passionate about, one of the goals I find the most relevant at the moment is that of climate change this is because when we have leaders, whether in the government or in other positions of power bluntly stating that our actions are not indeed contributing to climate change, knowing that the majority of the scientific community agrees that that is actually what is happening, is not only unbelievable but also discouraging.

People in such positions believing and spreading such ideologies are dangerous, especially knowing that a lot of the times their only aim is to score political points and being on someone’s side. It’s beyond me how they do not seem to look at this problem as the unfortunate threat that it actually is, and how things such as carbon emissions, animal endangerment or natural catastrophes are not enough to alarm them about the prospect of such a dangerous future for the generations to come.

My ambitions for the role:

My main aim with this role is to motivate and encourage a group of people to change how they choose to think of sustainability, regardless of how big or small that group is; I would like to help fix that disconnect that people feel between themselves and the idea of sustainability, and help them get rid of the notion that their actions don’t matter, and that whatever they do will not make a difference.

Also, because there is already an increasing number of sustainability friendly businesses running which are very successful, and I would like to help promote them and not only learn from them myself, but hopefully help to reinforce the idea that sustainability is not only possible, but also economical and leads to a world where everyone benefits from.

There are so many things I still do not know and have to learn about, but hopefully this is a journey that I can take together along with everyone else and help people be more proactive when it comes to these issues!

Sarah

My name is Sarah, I am from Libya. I am a postgraduate student, studying architecture and the sustainable environment. I am also a youth activist working with the NGO ‘Makers of Hope.’

I am interested in sustainability because it is the only way to ensure our future generations have a healthy life. I believe that sustainability is very crucial and that every person should carry a sustainable lifestyle. Leading a sustainable lifestyle will reduce the chronic problem of climate change.

I am passionate about goal number 7, 11 , 12 and 13. Personally I believe all the goals are important however these goals stand out to me as an Architect. Firstly, these four goals are connected for instance by being responsible in terms of consumption whether it’s food or plastic production, the less we consume or rather when we consume exactly the amount we need, this will lead reduction in climate change effect. Furthermore, one of the most important issues of our generation and the upcoming is the non-renewable energy therefore we should advocate more the use of renewable clean energy which is also a parameter effecting climate change. Lastly, with the ever-increasing population of the world, more cities will be designed roughly around 2000 more to host the increasing number of people. These people need to live in a inclusive sustainable cities that can provide comfortable acceptable living standards.

My ambition as an ambassador is that every student on campus is aware of the sustainable development goals. Furthermore, that they are aware of their responsibilities as individuals on this planet. I want the students on campus to be more compassionate towards the problems that occurring in the world and to take action.

Michael

Hi, I’m Mike! I’m a fourth-year student who has recently come back from a year abroad placement in Hong Kong. I am currently volunteering as a Radio Presenter, School Representative, Global Officer, and co-organising this year’s TEDxUniversityofKent event.

Outside of university, I am an avid traveller, highly interested learning about different cultures and traditions when meeting people from my personal travels.

 

My first spark of interest becoming more sustainable was seeing the alarming rates of extinction surrounding animals. I began becoming more attentive to the huge realm of sustainability and realised how unaware we truly are as citizens of how impactful our day-to-day lifestyle choices are. By becoming interested in sustainability, I want to learn how to become more sustainable in my lifestyle choices and how to reduce the impact we have on the world.

Although I am deeply passionate about all 17 UN sustainability goals. I have particularly worked on Goal 4, Quality Education in a start-up. Recently my team and I have founding an app “Ins-Tutors” aligning with the goal of providing Quality Education. This proved successful in the KentAppChallenge taking 2nd place. With this app, we plan to provide education in developing parts of the world and provide education for everyone and anyone.

From this role, I want to deepen my knowledge around the realms of sustainability and what measures I can to become more sustainable. From this, I hope to and educate myself and students to become more conscious when making their day-to-day decisions.

 

Introducing our new Student Sustainable Goals Ambassadors (Part One)

As part of the University’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and our under our FutureProof behaviour change project the Sustainability Team have recruited a group of amazing students who are Kent’s first Sustainable Development Goals Ambassadors.

The SDGs or the Global Goals are 17 goals that outline the vision for a sustainable world by 2030. The 17 goals and underlying targets were created and signed by 193 countries at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. The goals seek to finish the job that was started by the Millennium Goals which ran from 2000 to 2015 and brought 850,000,000 people out of extreme poverty and yet saw carbon emissions increase by 9,850,000 kilotons.

The Student Sustainable Development Goals ambassadors’ role is to promote the goals to fellow students and staff; encourage, motivate and support the Staff Sustainability Champions network; increase the ease of reporting on sustainability achievements within the University; increase student staff collaboration; and lead on their own sustainability projects.

From the role we aim to support students in understanding more about sustainability; equip them with useful skills for future employability; and recognise their efforts with employability points.

In their own words, over the next few blogs posts we will introduce this year’s cohort of Sustainable Goals Ambassadors.


Huda

My name is Huda and I’m an architecture postgraduate student from Sudan, Africa. I’ve always been interested about animals and conservation, as a child I’d watch natgeo documentaries just as much as i watched cartoon network. I always wondered what i could do as an individual to preserve the planet for both animals and people, the answer was sustainability as a lifestyle, not just a trend. Living in a poor country made me interested in low cost solutions specifically that help improve people’s quality of life on a tight budget and without impacting our environment. Therefore, as an architect, my focus in the Sustainable development goals is on sustainable cities and communities.

During a trip to zanzibar, the hotel owner showed me how he built wells for the village using plastic bottles. His idea provided clean water, cleaned the beach of plastics, provided a source of income for the village ladies in filling the plastic bottles and taught villagers how to build using this sustainable method all in one solution. My ambitions for my role as a sustainability ambassador is to advocate for solutions that have a multitude of benefits both environmentally and economically.

Adrian

Hello, my name is Adrian Joyeux. I’m a 2nd year student studying Politics and International Relations with French. At this moment I cannot think of anything else to describe myself that doesn’t sound rehearsed or boring. So, instead I have chosen to just state three random sustainable or earth related facts that are dear to my heart, because anyone that knows me will now that I absolutely LOVE random facts. The first random fact, is about me, I currently take up about 3 earths (meaning that if everyone lived like me, then it would take 3 earths to sustain my lifestyle). The odd thing about it is that I am happy about it. Before then I took up 6.5 planets, so I have definitely improved somewhere. The second random fact, is that the earth is constantly recycling. Nature uses everything to sustain and grow the environment. The third fact, is that it takes about 2,700 litres of water to produce 1 cotton t- shirt.

I am taking part in the Sustainability Goals program on campus for two main reasons. One reason being, today we are seeing drastic changes in the world both good and bad and nature is reacting.   More and more people are being forced to immigrate to other countries due to environmental reasons. Sadly, one day, places like the beautiful sandy beach and clear blue sea waters of the Maldives will disappear. Reports, are stating that many countries such as South Africa, Mexico, and even the United Kingdom has or will have a day zero were they cannot provide continuous running water. The other reason I am taking part of this program is because I would like to learn more about sustainability internationally and domestically and to see how we as individuals and organizations can make an impactful change in sustainable living and production.

By taking part in this program I believe I can make a positive impact by promoting the various sustainable actions the University is participating in and hopefully creating action that will be adopted by the University.  I aim to mix various goals together such as goal 6: Clean water and sanitation, goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy and goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities. I hope the chain reaction will affect other developmental goals.

Louise

My name is Louise Al-Hakkak. I’m a French exchange student here for a year. I study social sciences, politics, law and international relations at my home university. I was part of the Environment society there and took care of an organic vegetable garden on campus. I’m passionate about nature, Latin America, languages, politics and geopolitics, history, photography and environmental issues.

I’m interested in sustainability because I think it is crucial that we limit our impact on the earth as quick as possible so that we can have a habitable environment for ourselves but most importantly so that we stop destroying biodiversity.

The goals I’m most passionate about are No Poverty (1), Clean Water and Sanitation (6), Reduced Inequalities (10), Responsible Consumption and Production (12), Life Below Water (14) and Life on Land (15). Goals 1 and 10 tackle social problems which I would like to see eradicated. I like goal 6 because the sustainability workshop made me realise how important sanitation is and why it is so important that everyone has access to it. The water aspect is also very important when we see that water is being privatised in many parts of the world. Goal 12 is probably my favourite one as it is the one which tackles consumerism and waste. Finally, goals 14 and 15 concern biodiversity which is a big concern right now seeing the state of the ocean and how many species are going extinct almost every week.

My ambition for the role is to be able to have a real impact on campus, to feel that I’m useful and that I am actually helping to move towards the Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to work around recycling, food waste, reducing packaging …