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Lord Williams congratulates Cambridge eco-challenge pupils

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Órlaith Traynor-Bucknall of King’s College School with ‘Original Organic’
Órlaith Traynor-Bucknall of King’s College School with ‘Original Organic’

The first Cambridge Schools Eco Council eco-challenge has a winner.

The competition, which was launched in April, involved designing and building an eco-composter – and the entries produced a startling collection of themes, materials and possibilities from Cambridge pupils and students aged from age 10 upwards.

The final 11 entries were featured in the Cambridge Independent, with poll inviting readers to cast their vote. The online poll votes were then put to a panel comprising Lord Rowan Williams, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Cllr Lucy Nethsingha and Baroness Julie Smith, who this week announced the winner.

“As always, it’s the younger generation who inspire and encourage us in the struggle for a sustainable future,” said Lord Williams of the eco-challenge designs. “I was deeply impressed by the imagination and care, and the level of research that these young people put into this project, and it was an honour to be involved with it.”

Speaking for the organisers, Sarah Sanders, editorial officer at the United Nations Voices of Future Generations initiative, said: “The eco council’s first eco-challenge was a great success, and it fulfilled its purpose to get kids active and thinking about how they could help to make their community more sustainable during the difficult time of lockdown.”

The winners are:

 1st: Órlaith Traynor-Bucknall (King’s College School) for ‘Original Organic’

 2nd: Nico Roman (King’s College School) for ‘My Wire & Ivy Cylindrical Eco-Composter’

 3rd: Jona David (Winchester College) for ‘The Blue Tumbling Hedgehog Eco-Composter’

 Highly commended: Mia and Reuben Robb (Parkside School) for ‘With a Little Help from our Soil Biodiversity Friends’; and Samaya and Ella Hone (Chesterton Community College) for ‘George’.

Lord Rowan Williams speaking outside Shire Hall at a Youth Strike 4 Climate event last year. Picture: Richard Marsham
Lord Rowan Williams speaking outside Shire Hall at a Youth Strike 4 Climate event last year. Picture: Richard Marsham

Said Órlaith: “I very much enjoyed taking part in this eco challenge. It was extremely satisfying to create something useful from scratch. The green composter is working nicely though the birds seem to find the egg shells hidden within the green waste. I will have to crush them in future.”

“I really enjoyed reading about everyone’s eco-composting ideas,” said Baroness Smith of Newnham. “It is so encouraging to see the creativity and enthusiasm that went into the submissions. Some of the drawings were fantastic and I hope that the composters have all helped tackle green waste in an ecologically sound - and economic - way.”

Nico, who also co-chairs Cambridge Schools Eco Council, said: “It is very exciting to be one of the winners in this first-ever Cambridge Eco-Challenge. I enjoyed designing and building my new WIC eco-composter, which we especially use for cut grass. We all really respect the judges who are leaders in our community and we loved seeing the Cambridge Independent readers all voting and learning about different ideas to live more sustainably. Thank you so much much everybody.”

Sarah Sanders, editorial officer at the United Nations’ ‘Voices of Future Generations’ initiative
Sarah Sanders, editorial officer at the United Nations’ ‘Voices of Future Generations’ initiative

“I loved judging the eco-challenge,” added Dame Fiona, master of Emmanuel College. “Great ideas, lots of enthusiasm and some pretty nifty construction meant it was a tough call. Well done to the winners but every entrant deserves praise, and it’s clear we can look to the next generation for commitment and determination to ‘green’ our lives.”

“I was particularly pleased that so many of the entries had chosen to use recycled materials for their composters,” said Cllr Nethsingha: “It was also great to see so many of the composters being made from biodegradable materials.”

Of the process, Mia and Reuben Robb wrote: “We really enjoyed the challenge – it made us think more deeply about the practical aspects of composting, about how different combinations of inputs and the many different ways they can be brought together, like in a custom built composter or a heap, can impact on the speed of the composting process. We are also glad to have the opportunity to highlight the role of soil biodiversity in the process. Check out pictures of the amazing creatures that live in our soils in the Global Atlas of Soil Biodiversity.

“You might even like to take your own photos and enter the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ soil biodiversity photo and video contest.”

Details of the second eco-challenge will be announced later this month. The next Cambridge Schools Eco Council eco-seminar is on June 16: the topic is consumerism and waste.

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