News & Events

2021 Story of Your Stuff Competition

Published: Monday, 26 April, 2021

Hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and held in partnership with the UCD Earth Institute, the fifth annual The Story of Your Stuff competition concluded last week on April 21st. For the past few years, this competition has urged students to consider how to tackle the challenges to our environment though the modification of production and consumption practices for the everyday ‘stuff’ in our lives. While encouraging young people to think about climate action and environmental protection, the competition also allows participants to share the impact of sustainability with family, friends, and their community to build lasting changes. The competition received a record amount of more than 300 entries from schools located across Ireland.

This year’s winning entry, ‘The Story of Disposable Face Masks,’ from Robert Urquhart from Presentation College Athenry in Galway uses hand-drawn illustrations, in addition to scripting and narration to examine the manufacture and use of disposable face masks. Robert received the top prize of €500 and secured an additional €500 for his school.

The winners were announced at a virtual finale and showcase event on 21st April, with addresses from Dr Norah Patten, competition ambassador, Jonathan Derham (EPA), and Prof. Tasman Crowe, director, UCD Earth Institute. Two short films were shown on how UCD researchers are understanding the stuff we produce, with the BiOrbic Bioeconomy SFI Research Centre exploring the challenge of plastics, while Prof. Aidan O'Sullivan from the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture talked about how we can understand past cultures through the objects they created.

Keisha Abdulhaman from Sion Hill Dominican College in Dublin won second prize with, ‘The Story of Face Masks,’ while Julia Wojtysiak from Le Cheile Secondary School, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15 placed third with, ‘The Story of Disposable Cutlery.’

Director of the UCD Earth Institute, Professor Tasman Crowe commented:

“Albeit virtually, it was fantastic to speak to the shortlisted entrants of this year’s The Story of Your Stuff competition, an initiative that aligns closely with the mission of the UCD Earth Institute, to find sustainable solutions to urgent environmental challenges. I hope the video demonstrations of innovative research being undertaken at UCD will inspire others to take up the challenge and perhaps come and join us at UCD.”

Competition ambassador and award-winning STEM advocate, Dr Norah Patten remarked:

“As a STEM advocate, I believe strongly in the need for environmental issues to be distilled into accessible language and presented in an engaging way to drive behaviour change for a more sustainable planet. This year’s shortlisted entrants demonstrated this ability in spades, and I wish to congratulate each one of them for getting this far. With so much uncertainty in the world, it is comforting to know there is a generation of young people able and willing to put their creativity to use in telling a compelling story on the need to make more environmentally conscious decisions.”

Please view the winning entries at