Kerry students take on sticky subject to win EPA prize

A pair of secondary school students from Kerry chose a sticky subject to win this year’s The Story Of Your Stuff competition, hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Amber Pomeranz and Lauren Lehane, transition year students at Presentation Secondary School in Milltown, near Killarney, teamed up to tell the story of chewing gum — from its history to how it is manufactured and how innovative ways are being found to reduce its negative impact on the environment after use.

This is the second year the EPA has hosted the competition in which students were asked to submit stories about the life cycle of an everyday object with an underlying theme of recycling and sustainability. The entries focused on everything from wellies to wheels.

This year’s campaign ambassador, Easkey Britton, five-time Irish national surf champion, said she was inspired by the creativity of everyone who took part.

“It showcases so powerfully the talent and potential for young people to engage with issues they care about and create stories with positive impact,” she said.

She congratulated Amber and Lauren for their innovative use of animation, and their storytelling skills captured the judges’ attention and helped them claim the overall prize.

“It was incredibly well researched, beautifully illustrated with a cyclical narrative and strong take-away message,” she said.


The EPA’s Helen Bruen said the judges were “blown away” with the level of research, skill, time, and effort that went into each project.

“With this competition, we seek to encourage students to think more carefully about the impact of their consumption behaviours on the environment and how to use and dispose of their stuff in a sustainable way,” she said. “In our view, all the students who entered are winners because in doing the project they have done just that.”

Remarking on the winning video, The Story of Your Stuff judge and producer of RTÉ TV’s Eco Eye Marcus Stewart added: “The winning video demonstrated creativity and originality in delivering the message that all the items we use have a story. Their video on chewing gum was not only unique but informative. Who knew that there was biodegradable chewing gum and mugs made from recycled gum?”

Mark Hanley, the school’s transition year co-ordinator and also the girls’ teacher on the environment, said they had shown great initiative in taking on the project.

“I am extremely proud of them and so is the school,” said Mr Hanley.

“Transition year is all about independent learning and that it what they demonstrated. I saw the advert for the competition and they took it up with enthusiasm.”

The prize for Amber and Lauren includes a €500 prize for themselves and an additional €500 for their school.

All information about the winning video can be found on


Bag a bargain and beat the stress of flying at night with these top tips, says Claire Spreadbury.5 ways to make your late-night flight more bearable

Don’t just bung this festive favourite in a boring pot and wait for it to wilt, says Hannah Stephenson.How to style your Christmas poinsettia

I developed a cold two weeks ago with painful, throbbing ear pain.Natural Health: How to deal with throbbing ear pain and smelly feet

More From The Irish Examiner