Johanna Hattan, Connecticut College

As a college student and young adult, there is the constant need to choose between sustainability and affordability. The mainstream sustainability movement is largely dominated by products and practices only accessible to those with financial flexibility. On my campus, I have always been frustrated with both the lack of proximity to products low in plastic packaging and the pricing of the sustainable products at the local whole-foods store with zero-waste refills. Students need cars to get to the store with sustainable hygiene products and enough money to allow them to purchase the products at the whole-foods store over the far less expensive, plastic heavy products from the CVS Pharmacy next door. 

These frustrations are the primary reason I was so excited to work with Generation Conscious. Greg, the GenCo representative we are working with, made it clear from our first introduction that accessibility and sustainability are interdependent in the company’s mission. He made it clear that it is impossible to establish any truly sustainable program either on a college campus or anywhere else without inclusivity. Due to the diversity of socio-economic statuses represented on college campuses, we were stoked that GenCo’s products were not only high quality and zero-waste but priced comparably to the mainstream hygiene products with exorbitant amounts of plastic packaging. 

In terms of actually getting the products to campus to test out with the student body, GenCo was incredibly supportive and made the process go as smoothly as possible. At my college, through a grant from our Student Government Association we were able to work with GenCo to distribute sample packages of the products to over 1,000 students. So far, the student reviews of the products have been great. I have also heard a lot of positive comments about the products amongst the diverse circles I am a member of on campus. Because of this positive feedback, we are aiming to install refill stations with the GenCo products at the student center on campus. These refill stations will eliminate any single-use packaging form going to environmentally harmful landfills and incinerators. Therefore, the installation of these refill centers will provide an opportunity for students to engage in simple sustainable practices right on campus while also connecting their actions to a larger climate movement. I am excited to continue working with Generation Conscious to keep promoting equitable sustainability initiatives on my college campus!

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