On Friday, March 25th, The Earth Foundation held a fully virtual event, The Earth Prize 2022 Awards Ceremony, to announce the winner and runners-up of the USD 200,000 environmental sustainability competition for teenagers. Team Adorbsies, made up of three young women – Quynh Anh (Dorothy), Uyen and Huyen, from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam – was proclaimed as the victorious recipient of the USD 100,000 grand prize that comes with The Earth Prize 2022 Winner title. The prize money will be split evenly between the team members and the educational program with which they registered for the competition, Summit Education.
The winning idea is the “Adorbsy” biodegradable menstrual pad. As the students explained in their submission, due to a drop in dragon fruit sales caused by the Covid pandemic, Vietnam was suddenly forced to deal with considerable amounts of unsold fruit, with an initial plan of simply burning it. The students had already been thinking of a project linked to making more eco-friendly menstrual pads – as they were virtually non-existent in the Vietnamese market – when Uyen learned about the absorbent properties of dragon fruit. This planted the seed for their Earth Prize project submission.
“This was a very difficult choice for The Earth Prize Adjudicating Panel to make; but Team Adorbsies’ project is an idea turned into a solution that can make a genuine difference”, said Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas, Chair of the Panel.
“It really gives us inspiration. We spent months and months on this idea, and it feels like it really is paying off. The all-nighters, the sleepless nights, looking through dozens and dozens and dozens of research papers… it is worth it!”, Huyen Luong declared.
“We are all really, really excited, because this is our first really big milestone. The Earth Prize is where we wanted to present our idea first, but the actual implementation of our idea will be the next big step, and so, winning this gives us a lot of strength to see where we can take this idea. This has been such a great learning experience”, says Dorothy Tran.
Three runner-up teams were also announced and rewarded with a USD 25,000 prize each for their schools. These three teams are Team Big GEMS, which designed a fungal enzyme-based filtering kit that degrades dye wastewater produced by the textile industry; Team CIECO, which created and implemented a reusable cup circulation system that replaced disposable plastic cups at their school cafeteria; and Team Viridis, which designed a mobile app to help fight food waste from supermarkets in Jamaica.
The full ceremony can be watched on The Earth Prize Youtube channel.
The Earth Prize 2022 Launched by The Earth Foundation in September 2021, The Earth Prize is a global $200,000 environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13 and 19, which rewards the teams whose projects have the most potential to address environmental issues. You can read more about the competition on The Earth Prize website or watch its trailer here.
By the time registration closed at the end of November 2021, students in 516 schools across114 countries and territories had signed up for the competition, from some of the most elite boarding schools in the United Kingdom and Switzerland to schools in refugee camps in the West Bank and Jordan. To help participants develop their ideas, The Earth Prize provided students with access to 30 mentors from top universities, and with bespoke learning videos and materials covering key environmental topics featuring nine young environmental changemakers from around the world.
From all the submissions received, The Earth Prize Adjudicating Panel, a group of highly renowned experts chaired by Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas, Chief Sustainability Officer at Fidelity Investments, selected the top 10 teams that advanced to the Finalists Phase of the competition.
The first-ever cohort of The Earth Prize Finalists comprised teams of brilliant teenage students from Armenia, Canada, Jamaica, Kenya, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam. A brief description of each team’s idea can be found on The Earth Prize website.