A guide to student-friendly toiletries plastic reduction: blog post #2

Guest post by SDG Ambassador Julia Daly

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Happy August! How was your #PlasticFreeJuly? I’m excited to continue my plastic reduction recommendations! Today’s blog post is all about the amazing Soap Daze. Soap Daze is a soap and skincare brand and all products are vegan and palm oil free. The soaps are handmade and can be purchased in a number of fragrances, textures and sizes. Can I just express how much I love the aesthetic of the brand? Simple and elegant.

When I first checked out the online shop, I was most drawn to the unwrapped soap range that come on a rope. To me, this screams convenience and reduction in wasted packaging. For my first order, I purchased two unwrapped soap on a ropes and received the order with a couple of free small samples which I used as regular hand soaps – very very useful. I should also say that these soaps on a rope are massive and last ages.

I made a second order of soaps during the initial couple of weeks of the pandemic and lockdown. Where I was quarantining, all that was available was regular liquid handwash which quickly dried out my skin. All soaps in Superdrug, Boots and grocery stores were sold out online. I ordered a couple of soaps from Soap Daze and received my order with some more free samples! Hands down, these saved my hands. They are much more nourishing, moisturising and kind to the skin than your average liquid hand soap, and better for the environment.

The owner has recently opened up a physical store in Devon which looks extremely inviting! If you’re in the Exeter area, you can buy products in store and cut both your carbon footprint and plastic consumption! Both the online and physical store sell a lot more than soap and have branched out into makeup, deodorant, skincare and haircare.

Stand-out product: Unwrapped Black Pepper and Ginger Soap on a Rope, Extra Large Soap, Vegan Soap £7.95

This was the one of the first products I tried and loved the light fragrance, pretty swirls and good lather. I used this in the shower and it lasted a good two and half months. The rope lended itself nicely to hang the soap effortlessly in my shower. The photo is of the full-size unwrapped soap and one of the free samples. I have tried two other fragrances of the large soaps but this one was by far my favourite. If you are looking for a soap that exfoliates as you wash, there are a few that have harsher textures.

For the price point, and how long it lasts, I would highly recommend the unwrapped soaps to students looking to reduce their plastic consumption. I personally love trying different fragrances and textures of soaps and like to mix it up. With the huge range of fragrances, you’re spoilt for choice! If you think friends or family would like the products, there is also the option to create your own gift boxes and give someone the opportunity to try a range of products. Another plus!

I hope you enjoyed the second blog post in this series! Stay tuned for the next post coming soon!

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

Soap Daze website: https://soapdaze.com/

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 make recycled planters from household objects

During any extended periods of time at home, it’s always good to surround yourself with plant life.  A sunflower growing at the bottom of the garden can bring such joy, and nurturing aromatic and tasty herbs on your windowsill can bring even more satisfaction. All you need is a pack of seeds and a handful of compost and off you go! No outside space, or stuck without a pot? Here’s how to convert some household objects into planters without the hassle or expense of visiting the shops.

Newspaper Pots

 You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Tin can
  • Compost
  • Seeds

Making paper pots out of newspapers is fun and a great way to recycle.  Once the pots are made, you can plant them up and wait for your produce to grow, place the pots directly into the ground without having to disturb your plants. Easy, so lets give it a try.

  • Find an old newspaper and take one sheet out
  • Fold length ways so you have a long strip of newspaper
  • Take a recycled tin can (with lid removed) and place the solid end along the folded edge of the newspaper
  • Wrap the paper loosely around the tin and roll around until you have a tube around the tin
  • Fold one edge of the paper into the hole of the tin
  • Remove the tin from its sleeve
  • Put the tin, flat end first, back into the paper pot and squish the paper flat inside the pot
  • Ta da! Your pot is ready to fill with compost
  • Water your pot, then plant up with seed (sunflowers or beans are good) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • Water again and place in a warm sunny spot, keep moist
  • When your plants have grown and are ready to plant outside, place the entire pot into the soil, the paper will break down and your plants will grow happily out of the pot

Fabric Tin Can Planters

You will need:

  • Tin cans
  • Hammer & Nail
  • Doubled sided sticky tape
  • Recycled fabric (in strips)
  • Scissors
  • Compost & Seeds (seasonal herbs or bulbs)

Brighten up any windowsill with these easy to make recycled fabric tin planters.  Perfect for growing herbs or spring bulbs in on a budget and great for the environment too.

  • Wash out your used tin cans, remove any paper labels and bang two or three drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail (on a work surface like a chopping board).
  • Cut some old fabric into strips about 2cm thick and long enough to wrap around your tin. They don’t have to be neat.
  • Stick a strip of double sided sticky tape around the tin at the bottom of your tin can, cut to make a sticky ring all around.
  • Add one strip of fabric on top of the tape, cut off any excess fabric so each end meets.
  • Add another layer of sticky tape above your fabric and overlay another strip of fabric in another colour for contrast, trim and make sure you don’t leave a gap between the first and second fabric strip, each strip should overlap the one before.
  • Repeat the process all the way up the tin until you reach the top, trim any excess fabric around the top edge, or fold the fabric over the top if the edge is sharp, being careful to stick it down with a layer of tape first.
  • Add decorations to finish your multi fabric masterpiece! Wrap string around it and tie in a bow, add ribbon or glue on buttons, let your creativity shine.
  • Now your planter is ready to plant; add seed compost to the tin, water, then sprinkle your herb seeds, or plant a Spring bulb following the packet guidelines. Cover with another layer of compost, water again and keep in a warm sunny spot watering regularly. Then see your creation come to life!

Recycled Milk Bottle 5x Ways

You will need:

  • Plastic Milk Bottles (x5)
  • Craft Knife
  • Hammer & Nail (or sharp pointed object like a scewer)
  • Compost
  • Seeds – bird seeds and herb seeds to plant
  • Marker pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • String

Making a new use for any object is fun, but making five uses out of your used plastic milk bottles is incredible!

  1. Bird feeder
  • Draw a large circle on the bottle to make a hole to let birds inside to feed on the seed (at least 2 cm from the bottom)
  • Carefully cut the hole out using a craft knife
  • Screw a smaller hole underneath the big hole
  • Insert a kebab stick into the small hole to act as a perch for the birds to land on
  • Screw a hole through the lid of the bottle, feed an arms length of string through the hole, and tie several knots in the end that screws inside the bottle
  • Loop the other end of string and tie so you have a loop you can hang on a tree branch or hook outside
  • Screw the lid on the bottle
  • Fill the base with birdseed, its ready to go!
  1. Sprinkling watering bottle
  • Remove the lid from your bottle and place over something soft like a cushion, screw side up (to ensure a good flow)
  • With a screw or hammer and nail, make several small holes in the lid for the water to sprinkle out
  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Screw the lid back on and you have a practical sprinkling watering bottle to place near your plants, this is especially good for seedlings and your plants that need delicate watering
  1. Scoop
  • Place your water bottle on its side with the handle facing up
  • Draw a scoop shape around the bottle starting from the top edge of the bottle, half way along, down in a rainbow shaped arch to the bottom edge of the bottle at the base
  • Cut along the top edge to meet each scoop shaped arch
  • Job done, you have a scoop perfect for filling your pots from the compost bag
  1. Plant labels
  • With any spare plastic you have, utilise for plant labels by cutting into strips about 1cm wide by 8cm long (finger size)
  • Trim one edge to a point and set aside for your planting projects
  • Use a marker pen to label your pots so the plant names do not wash off when watering
  • You have a invaluable stash of plant labels at your fingertips!
  1. Self-draining planter
  • Cut a milk bottle around its centre in half carefully using a craft knife
  • Remove the lid from the bottle and turn the milk bottle top half upside down
  • Place the top half of the bottle back into the bottom half of the bottle, so the bottle ‘mouth’ is face down at the bottle base
  • You are ready to fill the container with compost and plant some seeds! When you water, the water will collect in the base and your plant will be happy and stay moist

Good luck with making these, and send some lovely photos to kentcog@kent.ac.uk

All the best,

Emily Hill Kent Community Oasis Garden Coordinator

Hedgehog Awareness Week 3rd – 9th May

Hedgehog Awareness Week is organised by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS) and takes place every year. It aims to highlight the problems hedgehogs face and how you can help them.

The hedgehog is in trouble, with populations plummeting 50% since 2000. Increasing habitat loss means hedgehogs are moving out of their rural homes and into built areas. But here they face a whole host of challenges, including road traffic, litter, poisoning and lack of access to food and water. In 2019 the RSPCA saw Hedgehog admissions to their wildlife centres break all records with 2770 hedgehogs being admitted.  Reasons for this include variations in weather causing a reduction in food availability meaning hedgehogs struggling to make it through the winter.

We are lucky enough to have hedgehogs on our campus however, the roads that cut through campus are causing particular issues with hedgehogs being hit by vehicles, as well as litter causing issues for hedgehogs and other wildlife on campus.

In July 2019 The University launched it’s participation in the Hedgehog Friendly Campus project- created at the University of Sheffield to use the unique spaces that university campuses are, to raise awareness of the plight of UK hedgehogs and take action to safeguard their future.

The University has a hedgehog action group made up of student and staff volunteers from across the University working together to address these issues. This group has taken a number of actions to help support hedgehogs on campus including litter picking, awareness raising and providing toolbox talks for the Landscape and Grounds Team so that they know what to do if they find an injured hedgehog, how to check for them before strimming and what are the biggest risks to hedgehogs on campus.

The University was awarded a Bronze certificate for its efforts by the Hedgehog Friendly Campus Project earlier this year and since then the action group have been developing plans for further initiatives we can do, including surveying and signage.

Whilst we are all in lockdown there are number of things we can all do to help support local hedgehogs, especially those of us that have gardens. Simple actions like: creating a log pile, checking areas before strimming, and building a hedgehog home can make a huge difference to your local population of hedgehogs. This year the BHPS are asking people to talk to their neighbours (from a distance) about cutting a CD case sized hole in the bottom of fences to create a hedgehog highway between gardens.

You can find out more information about things you can do on the BHPS website and get involved with the University of Kent Hedgehog action group by emailing sustainability@kent.ac.uk. Throughout the week the Sustainability Team will be posting tips, actions and activities on their Instagram @unikent.sustainability

You can also download some activities for children by clicking on the images below:

Ecotherapy

Guest post by Emily Hill, KentCOG Coordinator. The Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a partnership growing and wellbeing project based at the University of Kent and run by East Kent Mind. Find out more at blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog

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Ecotherapy at home

Ecotherapy is essentially all about improving your mental and physical wellbeing by doing activities outdoors in nature, but what happens when your time outside is limited, or you can’t access green spaces easily?  In these difficult times, where social distancing and staying at home is becoming the new normal, let’s take a look at what can be done to top up our daily dose of green care.

At KentCOG even though volunteers are unable to get to the community garden at the moment to work in nature, every individual can still experience nature and the positive effects it has on wellbeing and physical health from home, and so can you.  Here’s how, with some of my favourite suggestions from Mind’s Making sense of ecotherapy resource, available online at www.mind.org.uk:

Bring nature into your home environment

  • Collect natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds and anything else that you like to decorate your home and use in art projects.
  • Create a comfortable space to sit in in your home where you can look out over a view of the sky or a tree.
  • Grow plants on your windowsills. 
  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature and set them as your phone and computer backgrounds.
  • Try to do more everyday activity in front of a window so that you can see the sky (for example ironing clothes, chopping vegetables, brushing your teeth, drying dishes or daily exercises).
  • Download some recordings of your favourite natural sounds such as birdsong or waves.

Try horticulture at home

  • Create a growing space at home. If you don’t have a garden invest in a window box or plant pot and plant some salad leaves or herbs – even keeping a small container on your windowsill can help. 
  • If you have flower beds try planting some vegetables amongst the flowers. Many varieties of vegetables have attractive flowers for part of the year and might even add to your display.
  • Put your name down for an allotment or consider sharing one.
  • Join a local community food growing project if there is one in your area.
  • Go fruit picking in the countryside, or find out about urban food foraging and get some tasty food for free.  For example, in late summer and early autumn you might find lots of wild blackberry bushes growing in urban spaces, and some trees you walk by every day on your street might actually be apple or cherry.

Get close to animals

  • Go for walks in the countryside by rivers, fields and trees, and look out for wildlife. If you don’t live near open countryside, look out for urban wildlife in your local park, such as squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds. 
  • Go birdwatching by yourself.
  • Hang a bird feeder outside one of your windows. If you have the space you could build a small roosting box on a tree or under a windowsill so that you can watch baby sparrows or blue tits when they leave the nest. The RSPB provides more information on feeding and sheltering birds.
  • Think about whether owning a pet would be the right thing for you. Many people find caring for a pet every day brings lots of benefits, but you need to be sure your home environment and personal circumstances would be the right thing for the animal as well as for you. If you don’t own your home, it’s also important to check if you’re allowed pets. 

Do your bit for the Environment

  • Go on a litter picking walk in the park or on the beach.
  • Plant something outside the front of your home so that everybody who walks by can enjoy it.
  • Plant flowers for the bees and berry bushes for the birds in your garden.
  • Build an animal habitat – put up a bird box, create a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have enough space. Even a small pond can offer a home to creatures, such as newts and pond skaters.

Do more activities outdoors

  • Build a ten minute walk into your day, see if you can plan the route so that you take in a park or river.
  • If you have a garden create a space in it that you enjoy sitting in, have a picnic with home grown produce.
  • Sit under a tree in silence for a while, lean back against it and feel it supporting you.
  • Give yourself a sensory outdoor workout – find things to look at, listen to, taste, smell and touch. For inspiration visit the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website (letnaturefeedyoursenses.org).

Ecotherapy improves mental health, physical health, develops social life, builds confidence, strengthens your connection with nature and helps you practise mindfulness.  There are many ways to get involved and more information and support available at mind.org.uk. You can also join in a weekly zoom meeting on Green Spaces KentCOG 2-3pm from my home and see many of these ideas being put into practice. Spaces are limited, to book email info@eastkentmind.org.uk.

Take care.

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! 

 

The University of Kent is working to become a Hedgehog Friendly Campus!

Hedgehogs are declining rapidly in the UK, with populations dropping by up to 50% since 2000. Loss of habitat and exposure to many threats, such as road traffic, litter, poisoning from slug pellets and lack of food, are having a significant effect on this iconic mammal.

The University of Kent is working to help make its Canterbury campus a safer place for hedgehogs. Hedgehog Friendly Campus is a national accreditation scheme through NUS and funded by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Through signing up to the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme, Kent aims to improve staff and student awareness about the decline of hedgehogs and hedgehog friendly behaviour, and look into how we can help our hedgehogs living on campus.

Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus working group is made up of staff and students from across the University. The group runs awareness campaigns, organises events, such as litter picks and hedgehog surveying, and promotes hedgehog friendly practices.

If you are interested in helping our campus hedgehogs, please get in touch with: sustainability@kent.ac.uk

If you see a hedgehog that looks injured, sick or out in the daytime, contact the British Hedgehog Preservation Society on 01584890801 and/or take it to your local vets – find more advice here.

https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/found-a-hedgehog/

Did you know hedgehogs are nocturnal? This photo was taken at night using clever filters to enhance the lighting conditions. If you ever see a hedgehog out during daylight it could be a sign of distress. Check out our online guides that can help you take the right course of action, if any is required. Hedgehog Preservation Society.

How the tiny home movement promotes sustainable living

Guest post from Gaetan Gabor – Gaetan Gabor is an outdoor and tiny home enthusiast who is passionate about sustainable living. He currently resides in the United States where he partakes in spreading the knowledge of alternative living styles during his free time.


As people realise the detrimental effects of our consumerist culture on the environment, interest in the tiny home movement has been growing considerably. Tiny house living is the perfect antithesis to the pervasive idea of “bigger is better.” It’s proof that the way we build our homes can make a huge difference in how we live and relate to the environment.

Tiny house living and the environment 

With an average measurement of just 400 square feet or less, the sheer size of a tiny house forces one to downsize. People who live in tiny houses typically own fewer possessions and spend less overall. This leads to a lower carbon footprint and it’s one of the many reasons that motivate people to explore tiny houses as a sustainable building option. 

Up until now, there wasn’t enough research to prove the correlation between downsizing to tiny houses and a reduced carbon footprint. That is, up until this research paper from a doctorate candidate from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was released.

As part of the study, the author interviewed 80 subjects who had downsized from regular homes to tiny houses to see how the switch had reduced their ecological footprint. The end goal of the study was to provide measurable evidence of the environmental benefits of downsizing to a tiny house. 

The tiny house owners, who lived all across the U.S. were able to reduce their ecological footprint by up to 45%. This was based on various lifestyle factors that changed due to living in a tiny house. Below we explore just some of the ways in which the tiny home movement promotes sustainable living.

Building trends

If you look at new developments across the U.S. you’ll find that the common theme is “go big or go home.” From sky-high skyscrapers to massive mansions and estates that can take up thousands of square footage, newly-built U.S. homes are by far the largest in the world.

Concurrently, there has been a resurgence in minimalist living since the early 2000s saw a resurgence in the minimalist living trend. This is around the time when one of the most prominent tiny house construction companies was created, forever changing the way we think about space and home.

Ecological footprint 

In the aforementioned study, the researcher examined the individual environmental impact of downsizing based on participant accounts. They used a metric that shows us the effects of human behaviour on nature by first looking at the amount of land required to sustain present consumption levels. This means that the researcher considered each homeowner’s spatial footprint based on global hectares. She also included contributing factors like services, goods, food, transportation, and housing. In case you’re wondering, a single global hectare is equal to 2.5 acres on average.

The data shows that the average American household has a global footprint of 8.4 hectares which translates to 20.8 acres. The respondents in the study had an average ecological footprint of about 7.01 global hectares before they downsized. This equals a total of 17.3 hectares per year. After switching to tiny house life, the participants had a significantly reduced footprint of 3.87 global hectares which is 9.5 acres.

Eco-conscious lifestyles 

It seems as though downsizing also inspired the respondents to live an eco-friendly lifestyle characterised by recycling, conscious consumption and they produced less waste than before.  A majority of the participants also started growing their own food, buying local produce, driving fuel-efficient cars and cycling. Even tiny house owners who downsized for reasons other than ecological motives saw a dramatic shift in their environmental footprint. 

Reduced energy costs 

Living in a tiny house makes it easier to go “off-grid”. In fact, most tiny houses built today come with electricity, running water and flushing toilets while being completely independent of public amenities. Instead, these homes operate on solar panels, composting toilets, and biogas digesters, which lead to significantly reduced energy and service costs.

Conclusion 

There’s no denying that tiny house living can motivate people to live in ways that benefit the environment.  Tiny house owners typically show a lower overall footprint than the average person, and thanks to its small square footage, a tiny house doesn’t require a lot of possessions.  It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t take much to keep tiny houses cool in the summer or warm in the winter, making it easier to go “off-grid.”

These and other factors featured in the above-mentioned study provide a basis for understanding the environmental impact of the tiny house movement. Hopefully, more people can leverage it to improve building standards and drive home design trends.