EPA partners with UCD for ‘The Story of Your Stuff 2019’ competition finale event for second-level students

Date released: February 27, 2019

Environmental scientist and Antarctic researcher Dr Tara Shine to give key-note address

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today announced that it will hold a national finale and prize-giving event for ‘The Story of Your Stuff’ competition at  University College Dublin (UCD)’s O’Brien Centre for Science on 09 April.   The EPA also announced that this year’s competition ambassador is Cork-based environmental scientist, Dr Tara Shine. 

‘The Story of Your Stuff’ is a nationwide competition for secondary school students run by the EPA. Now in its third year, the competition challenges second-level students to investigate the life cycle of an item they use every day and to use their artistic talents to visually tell the environmental story of that item. Entrants are encouraged to use the EPA’s Ireland’s Environment website, www.IrelandsEnvironment.ie when researching their project. The prize for the winning student(s) is €500, along with an additional €500 for the school. The deadline for entries from second-level students is Friday, 08 March 2019.

Colette Ryan, EPA lead for ‘The Story of Your Stuff’, said,

“This is the first time that we have organised a national finale event for this competition, now in its third year.  We are delighted to be working with UCD in organising the event and to have environmental scientist Dr Tara Shine come on board as competition ambassador this year.  The national finale will celebrate the creative talent of our competition finalists and the hugely important role that young people play in the future of this planet.”  She continued,
“Dr Shine’s expertise lies in climate change and its impacts on people. She has also just returned from a research trip to the Antarctic, which should be of great interest to the finalists and their classmates. This inaugural event will be held at UCD, home to the Earth Institute, one of Ireland’s largest centres for environmental research.  Many of its researchers are working on projects across a range of disciplines and we look forward to introducing the finalists and their classmates to some of this work.”

Director of the UCD Earth Institute, Professor Tasman Crowe added,

“The Story of Your Stuff is a fantastic competition to encourage and to empower young people to make positive environmentally-conscious decisions. We’re looking forward to welcoming some of Ireland’s brightest young minds to UCD for the finale and to seeing their projects. The finalists will be given special insight into the innovative research projects taking place on campus before having their own projects showcased in our O’Brien Centre for Science. We will also have staff on hand to show how Irish research is leading the way on raw materials, the biobased economy and advanced manufacturing. We’re delighted to be supporting the EPA and continuing our strong relationship, with Institute members currently working on a range of EPA-funded projects related to carbon sequestration, ecosystem services, climate change, packaging waste and urban greening.”

Dr Tara Shine said,

“Close to half of the world’s population today is under the age of 25.  These young people face a future affected by climate change and biodiversity loss that is not of their making and they are a powerful force for change in our world today, through their own actions and their influence on their families, friends and decision makers.
“Storytelling is a powerful way to engage and influence people and the ‘The Story of Your Stuff’ competition encourages young people to tell stories that matter. People seldom think about where their stuff goes to or comes from yet what we buy every day has an impact on our environment.  Stories, creativity, visual images and sound can engage emotions and mobilise change.  That is what The Story of Your Stuff is all about.”

Applicants to ‘The Story of Your Stuff’ are invited to use a visual creative medium of their choice, including video, animation, drawings and photography, to tell the story of their chosen item, considering the entirety of its life cycle. This includes what may become of it if it is correctly recycled and what can happen to it if it is not.

Competition guidelines and tips are available at http://www.thestoryofyourstuff.ie/. Entrants are encouraged to use the EPA’s Ireland’s Environment website, http://www.epa.ie/irelandsenvironment/ when researching their project. The deadline for entries is Friday, 08 March 2019.

Contact: Louise Archbold / Stephen Moloney, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2601145 / 087-7858522

Notes to Editors:

  • Spokespersons from the EPA are available on request. 
  • The Story of Your Stuff ambassador, Dr Tara Shine is available for interview on request. 
  • An informational video for ‘The Story of Your Stuff 2019’ is available to watch here: https://bit.ly/2RmRRcI

About ‘The Story of Your Stuff’:

‘The Story of Your Stuff’ is a nationwide competition for secondary school students run by the EPA. The competition challenges students to investigate the life cycle of their everyday ‘stuff’ through a creative medium, considering the entirety of the item’s life cycle. The EPA’s Ireland’s Environment website, http://www.epa.ie/irelandsenvironment/ has a range of resources to assist students’ research. It offers easily accessible research and reports on topics such as climate change, biodiversity and waste management.
Visit http://www.thestoryofyourstuff.ie/ for competition guidelines and tips, and follow The Story of Your Stuff on Instagram @storyofyourstuff.

About the finale:

Taking place on Tuesday, 9th April, it will see the top five shortlisted entrants, their classmates and their teacher, brought together for a special programme of events at the University College Dublin (UCD)’s O’Brien Centre for Science, culminating with the announcement of this year’s winner. Students will have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the UCD campus, to engage with experts from the UCD Earth Institute, the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences and the Science Foundation Ireland BEACON Bioeconomy and I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centres and to hear from competition ambassador, environmental scientist, Dr Tara Shine.

About Dr Tara Shine:

Dr Tara Shine is an environmental scientist, entrepreneur and science communicator with over 20 years’ experience working at the international level. She has recently returned from a trip to Antarctica, where she was part of the Homeward Bound global leadership programme for women scientists. She is Director of Change by Degrees, an award winning social enterprise, in partnership with Madeleine Murray. Change by Degrees aims to change the conversation on sustainability in Ireland and create a movement for convenient sustainability.  It provides educational services to individuals, communities and businesses ranging from awareness raising videos to workshops for employees.  In January 2018 Dr Shine also co-founded Plastic Free Kinsale with Madeleine Murray. It is a community initiative to reduce the use of single plastics in the town and increase awareness of plastic pollution and the impact on our marine environment. In January 2019 Dr Shine participated in an expedition to Antarctica with Homeward Bound, a global leadership programme for women in science.  Tara presents wildlife documentaries and swims in the sea to connect with nature and stay sane.

About the UCD Earth Institute:

The UCD Earth Institute is the University College Dublin’s institute for environmental research. The Institute has a membership of over 80 academics and more than 150 postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers spanning 18 UCD Schools, and has active links with a wide range of collaborators and stakeholders. It is home to state-of-the-art research laboratories in the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science and is a focal point for UCD’s environmental research.  It engages with researchers at all career stages and across disciplines including Biology, Business, English, Economics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Law, Computer Science, Geography, Agriculture, Archaeology, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Planning, Policy, Earth Sciences and many others. The Institute fosters interdisciplinary research within and beyond UCD through an active programme of events and activities designed to bring researchers together from these different disciplines, to start new conversations, spark new ideas and support new initiatives relating to research and education, policy and governance, innovation and enterprise and engagement and society.