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Starting University on a Mindful Note

Many of you will be going to University this year (or will know people that are). Given everything that’s happening right now, it’s made us so happy to receive lots of personalised notes and stamping messages in our customisable bangles, which are already being sent direct to Uni halls as gifts.


Whether it’s your first year, or you’re continuing your course, new starts are always exciting. It was 10 years ago this year that I was setting off to Southampton Uni to study Anthropology (quietly crying inside at how quickly that’s gone). Looking back, I regret not thinking more about the choices I made when I was decorating my room. Obviously plastic is cheap and so is the go-to when decorating on a budget. To be honest, the material your new lampshade is made from probably won’t be your top priority right now… but that’s why I’ve compiled a few easy plastic-free alternatives and DIY things you could look into buying, so you don’t have to think too much about it. Time to get excited!


This DIY probably applies more to students going into their second or third year who are moving into a house. The DIY below is essentially two ‘lampshade frames’ with the bottoms taped together. On one of them, cut out the bit that holds the bulb, masking tape them together and then wrap embroidery cotton in any colour you like around them. You can see the whole DIY instructions if you click on the GIF below (it’s in Spanish, but google chrome should let you translate it easily at the top when you click on the page).


If you don’t love DIY’s as much as I do then when choosing lampshades, just look for woven ones that don’t have plastic on them. If you purchase off Etsy then you will be directly supporting the person that has made the frame as well as choosing ethical materials, but you can get some cheap shades in Dunelm (literally my saviour whilst I was at Uni) or Ikea if you type in ‘Rattan’ or ‘Woven’ into the search bar. This applies to anything you buy really, for example, look for rattan storage boxes instead of plastic.

Sustainable interior choices

So a few things about your decor that could save you money in the long run…

Bedding - If you buy a neutral bedcover, you know that you can continue to use it for years and it’ll always fit in with your interior. I still use this white Ikea duvet I bought in second year. When you buy, it’s good to buy simple so it won’t go out of fashion (this was not, by the way, my intention at all, I basically got it because it was one of the cheapest!!).

Picture frames - The amount of plastic white picture frames I got from Ikea when I moved into Uni…. I have no idea where they are now. If you buy wooden frames with glass (not plastic) then you will take these through life with you. Even if you break the glass, you can find little glass shops everywhere, if you google, and they will make you a pane of glass the right size for a couple of pounds. Pictures look better behind glass than plastic anyway, because of the way the light reflects - Habitat have a really good range.

Blankets and throws - When you’re wanting to make your room cosy, choose blankets and throws that are made from wool or natural fibres, rather than plastics. Wool can be more expensive, so maybe that would be more of a gift than a purchase you make yourself.

Flowers - Now is the perfect time to pick some beautiful flowers that you can dry yourself. Simply hang the bunch upside down for a week or two in a dark, cool place (I use the cupboard under the stairs). I pick mine from my garden but if you know anyone that has a lovely garden with flowers in, then just ask if they would be happy for you to pick a few (most flowers need deadheading anyway so they flower into late summer - you’d be doing them a favour ;)). Dried flowers last for years and years so they’re much more sustainable than buying fresh flowers. If you can’t find any to pick yourself then Trouva has some lovely bunches.

Eco-Friendly University gift ideas

These tips from are fab and they mean you can pat yourself on the back on a daily basis for being a good human (perfect if you’re feeling a little hungover). If you have family members asking you if you need anything for Uni, these are a great suggestion because they’re the type of thing that can be a bit irksome to buy for yourself.

A reusable string bag - It’s super compact and light to keep in your bag, but can also expand like crazy to hold up to 40 lbs. It’s perfect for last-minute grocery trips or even lugging your dirty clothes to the laundry room.

Reusable water bottle + filter combo - Refilling a reusable bottle at a water fountain or in the sink is a no-brainer way to never use a single-use plastic water bottle again. If the tap water at your place isn’t great, keep a filter in your bottle to clean any impurities out of your water.

Reusable coffee cup - For most college students, coffee is a lifeline. Keep a reusable cup on you to avoid single-use cups. Some cafes even give discounts for bringing your own!

To-go cutlery - Say no to non-recyclable plastic forks, knives and spoons and keep a portable set of utensils on you.

Cloth napkin - Because spills and messes happen, keep a cloth napkin or rag with you to wipe up unexpected messes, or even to blow your nose with.

Reusable straw - Plastic straws are non-recyclable, but sometimes you just want to sip your iced coffee or smoothie through one. Keep a reusable straw with you so you’re always prepared!

To-go container - For food hall leftovers, or picking up some takeout, keep an empty airtight container with you to avoid using single-use takeout containers. 

Jewellery - Our Customisable Cuff Bangle could be the perfect way to commemorate this moment with a meaning full and personalised gift that can be worn wherever they go.

The world we live in now is much more awake to the idea of being sustainable and eco-conscious than when I was at at Uni. So, 10 years from now when you’re thinking back to your University days, you’ll be proud of these little choices you can make now and have a good laugh at the more entertaining bad choices that are (most probably) yet to come!