Unique project from dragon fruit peels win 100,000 USD of The Earth Prize 2022

The Swiss Embassy in Viet Nam had a meeting with the 'Team Adorbsies' who are the winners of this year’s Earth Prize 2022 on April 22.
Three Vietnamese girls win The Earth Prize 2022 with a unique project from dragon fruit peels
The Swiss Embassy in Viet Nam met Team Adorbsies' who are the winners of this year’s Earth Prize 2022 on April 22. (Photo: Thu Trang)

Team Adorbsies, made up of three girls - Luong Anh Khanh Huyen, Bui Tu Uyen and Tran Quynh Anh, from Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi (Viet Nam), was proclaimed as the victorious recipient of the USD 100,000 grand prize that comes with The Earth Prize 2022 Winner title.

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, Viet Nam 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 peels. This planted the seed for their Earth Prize project submission.

Ms. Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas, Chair of The Earth Prize Adjudicating Panel, said: “This was a very difficult choice for The Earth Prize Adjudicating Panel to make, but Team Adorbsies's project is an idea turned into a solution that can make a genuine difference”.

Expressing her joy at winning the top prize, Huyen declared: “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!”.

For Quynh Anh, the prize is "the first big milestone" in life. She also emphasizes the importance of bringing their idea into reality and said that the prize gives the team strength to push forward the project.

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, with the design of a fungal enzyme-based filtering kit that degrades dye wastewater produced by the textile industry; Team CIECO, with a reusable cup circulation system that replaced disposable plastic cups at their school cafeteria; and Team Viridis that designs a mobile app to help fight food waste from supermarkets in Jamaica.

The Educator of the Year Award went to Safa’ Obeid, a teacher at Sweileh Preparatory Coeducational School (UNRWA), Amman (Jordan) for her outstanding contribution to education and her community.

The Mentor of the Year Award was given to Annamaria Szelics, a 4th-year MSc Neuroscience student at the University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) for her extraordinary guidance and support to the participants of the competition.

The Educator and Mentor of the Year will be rewarded a USD 12,500 prize each.

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.

By the time registration closed at the end of November 2021, students in 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 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 (China), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Viet Nam.

On March 25, 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.

Founder of The Earth Foundation Peter McGarry is an Irishman based in Switzerland, a father of four, entrepreneur, macro portfolio manager and extreme runner.

His interest in sustainability was sparked by his children’s enthusiasm for the environment and his first-hand experiences running marathons on all 7 continents and the North Pole.

He decided that he could leverage the passion he saw in his own children and his experience in global financial markets to create a force for positive environmental change through a foundation.

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