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|The Vietnamese winners of The Earth Prize 2022 (from left): Luong Anh Khanh Huyen, Bui Tu Uyen and Tran Quynh Anh. (Source: sohuutritue.net.vn)|
Hanoi - Team Adorbsies, made up of three Vietnamese girls, has been proclaimed as the recipient of the 100,000 USD grand prize that comes with "The Earth Prize 2022 Winner" title.
The girls are 15-year-old Tran Quynh Anh from Ho Chi Minh City, and 17-year-old Bui Tu Uyen and 16-year-old Luong Anh Khanh Huyen, both from Hanoi.
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-19 pandemic, Vietnam was suddenly forced to deal with considerable amounts of unsold fruits, 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 peels. 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 said.
“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”, Quynh Anh said.
Three runner-up teams were also announced and rewarded with a 25,000 USD 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.
Launched by The Earth Foundation in September 2021, The Earth Prize is a global 200,000 USD 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.
The Earth Foundation was founded in 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland, to inspire, educate, mentor, and empower students, schools, researchers, and young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to tackle environmental challenges.
Through its initiatives, The Earth Foundation strives to foster a self-perpetuating ecosystem that accelerates positive change towards environmental sustainability.
By the time registration closed at the end of November 2021, 651 teams from 516 schools across 114 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 change-makers from around the world.
Speaking at a media briefing on April 22, Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam Ivo Sieber commended the team’s great idea as well as their commitment to put it into action, stressing that he was impressed by their vision and what they have done at their young ages.
The team has shown their cooperation and good teamwork in the “impactful project”, with each of them covering different areas, the diplomat said.
The girls said through the project, they want to send a message of environmental protection that requires joint efforts and actions, and raise public awareness of hygiene and sanitation for women.
Environmental protection can be done not only through macro projects but also simple actions, they said, urging young people to raise their ideas to contribute to these efforts.