Ever since I was young I have been a curious person, I would look at the world from any and every angle. I would climb lampposts and stop signs to see how things would look from higher up. I look at the world from a variety of perspectives, and have always wanted to change the way people think to make a better world. Angela McCarthy, the CEO of The Earth Prize (competition), feels much the same way. Ms. McCarthy went to boarding school at Aiglon College, in Villars sur Ollon. In an interview with Ms. McCarthy, she said that during her time at Aiglon (from age 13), she was “very aware of the incredible beauty of the nature that surrounded me wherever I looked…I remember thinking that it’s something to be treasured and to be taken care of and to be respected.” Amazingly, when she was at school, “the environment was not a concern for most people. No one talked about any (climate) issues at that time. I know, that must be hard to imagine!”
The Earth Prize competition is a way for students to potentially and positively alter the world we live in. It is an opportunity for students to express their sustainability ideas and to receive the practical support they need to get those ideas out into the world. A competition for students ages 13-19, winners receive $200,000, funded by the co-founder of The Earth Prize, Peter McGarry. The reward money comes from his “day job” at Garda Capital Partners. The prize money is given to the person or persons who come up with the best solutions for environmental issues. Students receive the opportunity to work with world-renowned ambassadors and trainers who are experts in their respective fields, in order to develop their work in the best possible way. Ms. McCarthy said the various mentors and ambassadors are chosen by application.
The mentors see our application posted, which details what we are looking for, then they apply, and we schedule interviews with each one over Zoom. This year, we met 65 people and selected 40. They were the people who showed real interest, along with taking into account gender, location, and general attitude. It is very important that we have viewpoints from students all over the world in different environments and from different circumstances. For Ambassadors, we scout individuals that will inspire, help spread the word about The Earth Prize, and who are also a diverse group of individuals that are making an impact in the world.
There are four categories participants compete in to protect nature: cleaning the air, reviving our oceans, building a waste free world, or fixing our climate. The winners of The Earth Prize in 2022 were three women from Vietnam named Quynh Anh, Uyen, and Huyen, or team Adorbsies. Thanks to Covid-19 and the fall of fruit sales, they decided to do a project on sustainable menstrual items because seeing such a thing in a Vietnamese market would be very rare. Uyen discovered the absorbing factors of dragon fruit’s skin. The bright young women are humble as well, claiming that they never expected to get to the finals, as it was hard enough applying to an international competition when they come from a small country. Standing in this competition lifted their confidence in their own ideas. Ms. McCarthy says,
Team Adorbsies continued to further their ideas and already went to a law firm, and now have the intellectual property rights for sanitary products, diapers and other cotton products in Vietnam. They are in the process of creating a prototype. We hope that each of the winning teams will bring their ideas to life.
The Earth Prize is only two-years-old, but it will continue to grow and to help students around the world realize their true potential. Ms. McCarthy says that she sees her company becoming “a mini EMPIRE!”
I mean that in the most wonderful way. The Earth Prize will be a household name. You will know thousands of students that brought their solutions to life and created an impact…and other students who got a chance in life through the competition. It will be the opportunity that changes the way one thinks and feels about oneself, and this wonderful planet we have as our home.
by Isabelle King