On Monday, April 24th, The Earth Foundation held a fully virtual event, The Earth Prize 2023 Awards Ceremony, to announce the winner and runners-up of its USD 200,000 environmental sustainability competition for teenagers. Over 1,270 student teams registered from over 1,000 schools across 116 countries and territories for the 2023 edition of the competition.
Team Delavo, made up of four young women – Yagmur, Avjin, Damla and Irmak from Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey – was proclaimed the victorious recipient of the USD 100,000 grand prize that comes with The Earth Prize 2023 Winner title. The prize money will be split evenly between the team members and the educational institution with which they registered for the competition, Bahçeşehir Koleji Fen ve Teknoloji Liseleri (Diyarbakir Bahcesehir College for Science and Technology High School).
Inspired by the problem of water scarcity from droughts in the Tigris River basin where they live, the team’s winning idea is the “ECaundry” device, which addresses the fact that 20 gallons (75 liters) of toxic waste water from every load of laundry in the world’s washing machines contaminate the soil and groundwater. Once the ECaundry is hooked up to the machine its integrated hollow ultrafiltration tubes and carbon filter treat and reuse laundry waste water, thus conserving more than 90% of it.
Avjin Aktop, member of Team Delavo, was visibly moved when she told The Earth Foundation CEO Angela McCarthy, upon learning the news of their victory, “This means so much to us! We found the submission process quite difficult as we are very restricted by geographical and financial boundaries. We did not expect to be the winners.” Her teammate Damla Aslan added, “This moment feels unreal. We are so grateful because we all worked so much for this. We are ecstatic to see that it really paid off!”
Three runner-up teams were also announced and rewarded with a USD 25,000 prize for each of their schools. These three teams are Team Agripod (Leicester Grammar School, United Kingdom), which created a soil data collection system which advises farmers on the optimal time to apply fertilizers, thus cutting fertilizer waste by 70%; Team Bactoplastics (Winchester College, United Kingdom), which designed a novel, cost-effective method of producing biodegradable thermoplastics which can replace most petroleum-based plastics used in packaging; and Team Agrivision (Polytechnic School, USA), which created an autonomous system using hyper-spectral imaging to conduct live plant health analysis on crops to identify signs of disease during early, treatable stages, thereby reducing the main cause of crop losses.
The Educator of the Year Award went to Kathy Dada, a chemistry teacher at Collège des Sœurs des Saints Cœurs (SSCC) in Ain Najm, Lebanon, for her outstanding contribution to environmental education and her community. The Mentors of the Year Awards were given to Stephen Okoth (Oberlin College, USA), Chloe Luzar Macquarie University, Australia) and Pierfrancesco Merico (St. Gallen University, Switzerland) for their extraordinary guidance and support to the participants of the competition.
The Earth Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland which aims to inspire, educate, mentor, and empower students and young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to tackle environmental challenges.
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