2020 NCBA Sustainability Contest Winners

By Maria Savasta-Kennedy

“There is a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”
(Mr. Maguire speaking to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate)

The Sustainability Committee is thrilled to announce our winners for this year’s NCBA EENR Sustainability Contest. Our topic this year was—you guessed it—plastics, and our contestants did a terrific job of thinking about what that “great future in plastics”  looks like now.

Specifically, we asked students to respond to the following prompt:

The Plastics Problem

Although we may think of plastic as “recyclable,”  the environmental and health problems stemming from the manufacture of plastics (for example, air pollution), its use (see the PBA health impacts of water bottles) and its disposal (much ends up in landfills, not to mention the massive floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean), illustrate the need for using sustainable alternatives to plastic. How can we encourage people to use less plastic? In an essay 2000 words or fewer, please explain why our continued creation, use and disposal of plastics is problematic, and how we can disincentivize the use of plastics in order to reduce plastic pollution.  How does North Carolina currently address this issue and what more can be done at the state and local community level?  Cite all materials (laws, studies, websites, news articles, etc.) that you rely upon in your analysis.

We had many outstanding submissions and our decision was not easy. The top three winners are:

First Place ($750):
Gavin Reider (E.A. Laney High School, Wilmington NC), who will attend NC School of Science and Math this fall.
“Plastic Empire: Local Solutions for a Global Scourge”

Second Place ($500):
Maya Gilliom (Middle College High School, Durham)
“Rolling Back the Plastic Tide: Specific Strategies and Systemic Solutions to Reduce North Carolina’s Plastic Dependency”

Third Place ($250):
Liz Barteldt (Lake Norman Charter School)
“Plastic Planet”

In addition, the committee voted to award “Honorable Mention” and publication in the EENR Blog to four additional students for their excellent essays:

The winning essays and honorable mentions are hyperlinked above. Congratulations to the authors, and thank you to all who participated!

This post was submitted by the Sustainability Committee Members: Maria Savasta-Kennedy, Blakely Hildebrand, Cathy Cralle Jones, Ted Feitshans and Amy Wang.