Bow Seat Announces Winners of International Student Competition Focused on Tackling Plastic Pollution
October 29, 2019

Hundreds of Teens Around the World Launch Creative Campaigns to Protect Their Local Watersheds

Today, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (Bow Seat) announced the winners of its Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition, which challenged middle and high schoolers from around the world to design and lead creative campaigns that educate others and inspire action to reduce or prevent marine debris. More than 250 students participated in projects aimed at protecting the ocean and their local watersheds in the U.S., Australia, Canada, India, Nigeria, Pitcairn, Vietnam, and more.

Team Marine, an environmental club from Santa Monica High School in California, won the Competition’s Gold award and a $5,000 prize. As part of their comprehensive top-down, bottom-up campaign, Team Marine educated 800 high school freshmen about plastic pollution and successfully lobbied the school district to pass a sustainability plan that ensures support for integrating environmental literacy and stewardship into the school curriculum. Team Marine’s campaign culminated in a giant public art installation—made out of 600 plastic water bottles—that provided a platform for the group to educate more than 400 community members about marine debris and alternatives to single-use plastics.

“We are now even more committed to improving environmental awareness because we saw the impact our actions can have,” said Team Marine member Siri Storstein-Norgaard. “From the mom who came back to our booth to show us her purchase of a metal straw to the six-year-old who was disgusted by the video we showed of plastic flowing into the ocean, we saw the difference we were making. This project helped us realize that people from all walks of life are needed to come together to bring about the vital social change necessary to save our oceans.”

Other award winners included students who helped make their community the first in North America to ban the sale of both single-use plastic water and soda bottles, developed a youth-for-youth sustainability conference, and upcycled 15,000 plastic bags to create sleeping mats for young people experiencing homelessness. Many Competition participants, understanding that living sustainably means not creating trash in the first place, educated peers and community members about an emerging “R” in waste management—“refuse”—and provided solutions and resources to support a waste-free lifestyle.

In addition to making tangible impacts in their schools, communities, and local watersheds, students reported that participating in the Competition strengthened their personal environmental awareness, attitudes, and actions. Students’ concern for the ocean, knowledge about marine debris, and belief that they can personally make a difference on environmental or social problems grew after conducting their campaigns; Competition participants also reported that they increased eco-friendly behaviors such as refusing single-use plastic items, recycling, and talking about the environment with family and friends.

Bow Seat presented Team Marine with a $5,000 cash award for their Gold-winning campaign. The Silver Award winners received $2,500; Bronze Award winner, $1,000; Distinguished Honorable Mention Award winners, $750; Honorable Mention Award winners, $500; and Notable Submission winners, $100.

View all 2019 Competition winners >

“Water connects us all—whether we live in island nations, landlocked communities, or coastal cities—and marine debris is a global, borderless problem that requires a large-scale effort,” said Linda Cabot, founder and president of Bow Seat. “We are thrilled that our program helped to cultivate stewardship and activism in young people around the world, and we are so impressed by the creative, sophisticated, and impactful campaigns that they implemented. These projects reflect the leadership of today’s youth, who are directing incredible social movements to advocate for the changes they want to see in their communities and for their futures.”

“Having the opportunity to review the entries was so inspiring and uplifting,” said Competition guest judge Doorae Shin, chapter coordinator of Surfrider Foundation O’ahu. “The youth are full of creativity and motivation to solve our world’s problems, and I loved being able to see this perspective and to be reminded of all the hope there is out there.”

Bow Seat’s Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition was launched in 2016 with a two-year grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, which supports projects that use outreach and education to inspire people to reduce and prevent marine debris.

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Bow Seat Announces Winners of International Student Competition Focused on Tackling Plastic Pollution