The story of soap

Video examining the life cycle of soap claims the top prize in the EPA’s ‘The Story of Your Stuff 2020’ competition

A video that creatively examines the environmental life cycle of soap has won this year’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ‘The Story of Your Stuff’ competition. 

The project, entered by Caoimhe Higgins and Katherine Mooney from St Andrew’s College in Booterstown, Dublin, looks at the history of soap manufacture and the effect of soap and its plastic packaging on the environment. It also identifies natural and locally made bars of soap as an alternative for consumers to consider. Ms. Higgins and Ms. Mooney won the top prize of Ä500, along with Ä500 for the school. 

Now in its fourth year, the competition brings together curiosity, creativity and science. It aims to get young people thinking about sustainability, climate action and environmental protection, using resources – such as the EPA Ireland’s Environment website ( – to spread the word among their friends, families and communities. 

2020 Competition

This year’s competition received more than 120 entries from schools across the country. Entrants were tasked with highlighting the environmental impact of an everyday item or activity, by creatively telling its story through a visual medium. 

The other four shortlisted entries, receiving gift token prizes, were: 

• ‘The Story of Plastic’, by first year students from Rice College, Ennis, Co Clare; 

• ‘The Story of Plastic Bottles’, by Jakub Varhola and Liam Dixon of Bremore Educate Together Secondary School, Balbriggan, Co Dublin; 

• ‘The Story of Lipstick’, Paula Umama Agada, Nimra Nawaz and Rhea Ann Thomas of Hansfield Educate Together Secondary School, Dublin 15, and  

• ‘The Story of Plastic Bottles’ by Sara O’Beirne from Mohill Community College, Mohill, Co Leitrim.

Climate focus

This year, a new ‘Climate Topic Prize’ was also awarded for the entry that best addressed key climate considerations, such as carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions or climate action. 

Lana Mitchell from Coolmine Community School, Clonsilla, won with her entry which examined the life cycle and environmental impact of paper. Ms Mitchel won a special tour of the Cool Planet Experience at the Powerscourt House, Wicklow, for her and her class.

Commenting, Dr Jonathan Derham of the EPA, said: 

“The EPA was delighted to see ‘The Story of Your Stuff 2020’ competition attract such a strong calibre of entries from across the country, covering a wide range of topics. Soap and handwashing are essential parts of our everyday lives, now more than ever, and the winning entry is timely in this regard. 

“While all soap products that ensure good hand-hygiene are to be encouraged, the winning video asks viewers to consider more environmentally friendly soaps, that are made locally and with more natural materials, and which use less plastic packaging. These alternatives, where available, can act to reduce any negative environmental impact.”

The Story of Your Stuff 2021 is coming soon!  

The Story of Your Stuff is an EPA competition for second level students aimed at highlighting sustainability, climate action and environmental protection. 

Students are invited to use their creative talents to tell the story of their ‘stuff’, which could be an object or activity, using a visual medium and to use the EPA Ireland’s Environment resource and EPA website and other good sources of information to assist them.

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