The young people who influence the trends of today will be the decision-makers of tomorrow, and must be encouraged to consider how their everyday decisions can have a positive impact on the environment – and the world.
That’s according to Director General of the EPA, Laura Burke, launching The Story of Your Stuff, an EPA competition aimed at secondary school students, which seeks to empower young people to make environmentally conscious decisions about their ‘stuff’ and everyday activities.
Now in its fourth year, the competition brings together curiosity, creativity and science, and aims to get young people thinking about sustainability, climate action and environmental protection, and to spread the word among their friends and family. Entrants are tasked with highlighting the environmental impact of an everyday item or activity by creatively telling its story through a visual medium. Students can chose to investigate the story of any everyday item or activity, such as a pencil or a bottle, or their journey to school, or their energy use.
Entrants to the competition will be in with a chance to win €500 for themselves and €500 for their school, while a new ‘Climate Topic Prize’ will be awarded to the entry that best addresses key climate considerations, such as carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions or climate action. The top five shortlisted entrants, their classmates and their teacher will be invited to a showcase finale event in UCD in early April, where, as well as seeing the work of the other finalists, they’ll also delve in to the world of science through workshops with students and staff of the college’s science faculty, and hear from The Story of Your Stuff Ambassador (to be revealed), before the winning project is announced.
Speaking at the launch, Ms Burke said: “Many young people are rightly concerned about the climate and environmental emergency now facing us worldwide, something that has been well flagged by evidence from scientists, including the EPA. Urgent transformational change is now required to meet these challenges, based on what the evidence is telling us. The EPA is calling on second-level students to enter The Story of Your Stuff competition and to use their artistic talents to create stories to inspire others to make low carbon and environmentally conscious consumption choices.
“All of us, younger and older, have a responsibility to take ownership of environmental issues in our personal lives. We can ask questions, identify solutions, adopt the necessary changes and support those who are addressing the broader challenges involved. Actions on a personal level to reduce carbon consumption often have associated benefits too, such as healthier lives and more engagement with others. If we begin to embrace the necessary changes now, we can also start to imagine a better future for ourselves and for the generations to come.”
Entrants are encouraged to use the resources of the EPA website, particularly the EPA’s Ireland’s Environment web resource to assist them in their research. The site offers easily accessible information about local environment, environmental indicators, reports and research on topics such as climate change, water, air, biodiversity and waste management.
Last year’s winners were Shurooq Azam, Aldiana Hoxha, Kar Gong Leong and Tomi Ayibiowu from Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School, Dublin 15, who made a video on the story of a toothbrush.
EPA lead for The Story of Your Stuff, Colette Ryan said: “The Story of Your Stuff competition gets people thinking, talking and making changes. The quality of the entries each year is so impressive and a testament to the wonderful students who take the time to explore the story of their stuff and to the teachers who guide them, and the competition is a highlight of the year for all of us at the EPA. We look forward to seeing the projects from this year’s entrants.”
Competition guidelines and tips are available at www.storyofyourstuff.ie. The deadline for entries is Monday, 9th March 2020.
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