Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited to announce our six nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2023. We are honored to be among the 370 official Nominators from 67 countries to select projects with ambitious but achievable goals for our planet and society which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for us all, for generations to come.
Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020, The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history. The prize aims to infuse more optimism into solving today’s biggest environmental challenges by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about positive change, and inspire collective action. Winners of The Earthshot Prize will be awarded GBP £1 million, along with additional support to help scale their impact.
This year we have selected nominees addressing the root causes and consequences of the plastic pollution crisis with amazing and inspiring solutions. Together, these nominees are: working to reduce plastic production and use, calling for accountability from the industries causing plastic pollution, centering people over profits, and focusing on the interconnectedness of human and ecological health. Importantly, while these projects are already making waves, they also have the potential to scale in the next few years to make an even greater impact.Without further ado, our 2022 nominees for The Earthshot Prize are (in alphabetical order):
1. Blue Mind (Dr. Wallace J Nichols)
The Blue Mind Movement helps people reconnect with their innate biological and emotional connections to water, improving human well-being and inspiring Earth’s protection and restoration.
Dr. Wallace J Nichols intends to connect every human with their Blue Mind, a water-induced state of calm, unity, and inspired will to protect and restore nature. This positive, holistic, values-based solution simultaneously addresses human well-being in a time of despair, and environmental protection in a time of destruction. Backed by scientific research and spiritual and Indigenous wisdom, Blue Mind reestablishes our inherent connection to water as a healing power. When we repair our broken relationship with water, we restore harmony within ourselves. While industry marketing departments have relied on neuroscience-based research and various behavioral levers (e.g., the emotional pull of calming water imagery) for decades to sell products, Dr. Nichols is among the first to bring this strategy to environmental organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and more. Dr. Nichol’s heart-centered work has become a global movement and inspired groups across the world to protect and restore natural areas, using awe and connection rather than guilt and fear to inspire action (e.g., Blue Mind turned turtle poachers into turtle protectors). Blue Mind is universal, cost-effective, accessible to all, and has enabled mass participation, reaching over 1 billion people so far, including Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
2. California Office of the Attorney General
Securing California’s legacy as an environmental leader through historic investigations into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries on behalf of people and the planet.
In 2022, the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) launched a series of historic investigations into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries—the first of their kind by a state or federal government anywhere in the world. Among other actions, CA Attorney General Rob Bonta subpoenaed Exxon-Mobil for information concerning the company’s role in deceiving the public about the recyclability of single-use plastics, and demanded plastic bag producers demonstrate that their bags are truly recyclable (they’re not). The CA DOJ’s decision to take on these industries has received international recognition for its goals and implications, which include: exposing and potentially prosecuting the deceptive tactics of the plastics industry to mislead the public about the environmental impacts of their products, inspiring other states and federal governments to follow suit, and creating industry accountability that could change the landscape of plastic production and decrease plastic pollution at the source. Mr. Bonta intends to address over 50 years of corruption and deception within these polluting industries, setting a groundbreaking precedent that no company is too big to be held responsible for their actions. This solution is one of courage, deserving to be recognized globally and emulated in jurisdictions around the world.
Growing compostable replacements for plastics and animal agriculture from mushroom mycelium to provide environmentally friendly, cost-effective, versatile material alternatives for a variety of high-polluting industries.
Ecovative’s mycelium technology—based on the intelligent nature of fungal fibers—is an environmentally restorative solution that can be rapidly scaled and applied to some of the worst-polluting and climate-destroying industries. Whether replacing harmful plastics in car seats, product packaging, and clothing, or preventing factory farming by outselling pork bacon, Ecovative’s innovative mycelium products are realigning businesses and industries with the cycles of nature and regenerating the planet. Ecovative intends to expand mycelium across as many industries as possible, illustrated through the one-of-a-kind Mycelium Foundry algorithmic design process. Their solution not only provides farmers across the world with a sustainable revenue replacement, but can be installed directly into their existing infrastructure to be produced today. Like the root structures of mushrooms, mycelium technology seemingly has no limits, acting as the base of commercially competitive products in a wide range of industries that can be produced at scale with a fraction of the environmental impact.
Seaweed-derived pellets that create replacements to single-use items made from plastic.
LOLIWARE’S SEA technology is in a unique position to significantly disrupt the plastic manufacturing process and catalyze a systemic shift away from single-use petroleum-based plastic products. Because their seaweed-based pellets are universally compatible with most plastic-manufacturing equipment and facilities, LOLIWARE’s technology is ready to scale rapidly without significant infrastructure changes. Their technology is unique because of the wide range of applications that are possible, providing a direct replacement for plastic building blocks without using land-based crops such as corn or soy, which have negative environmental impacts from monocropping and fertilizer usage. Unlike other so-called “bio-based” plastic products, LOLIWARE’s seaweed-based products are actually biodegradable and will decompose if they find their way into waterways or other natural environments, and do not require industrial composting after use. LOLIWARE sources ocean-farmed seaweed that is sustainably grown without the use of harmful chemicals (e.g., fertilizers), captures 5 to 20 times more climate-warming carbon than land-based crops, and creates economic opportunity for coastal communities along the way. Seaweed farming is not only a sustainable source of employment, but has positive environmental benefits for marine life and strengthens aquatic ecosystem resiliency.
5. Plastic-Free July
Plastic Free July is a global social movement that inspires millions of people annually to collectively avoid 300+ million kgs of plastic from polluting the world.
Plastic-Free July is a global movement that fosters connection and healthy communities by leading collective action against plastic pollution. Their open-source platform is based on neuroscience research and provides people with the resources and opportunities to participate in a paradigm shift that opens hearts and minds to reconsider our relationship with waste. The initiative reduces 300+ million kgs of plastic pollution every year and is playing an instrumental role in The Global Plastics Treaty negotiations and other international efforts by centering the voices of underrepresented communities around the world. This social movement can be scaled rapidly, does not require significant investment or infrastructure, and has potential to massively expand its reach, empowering billions of people to create a just transition towards a world free from plastic pollution. When movements are energized, governments and industry follow suit and are forced to make plastic pollution a priority. Plastic-Free July is a movement capable of changing the world, restoring a harmonious relationship between people and planet.
6. Project 17 (AY Young)
AY Young’s Project 17 uses music, art, and culture to advance all 17 of the UN SDGs and inspires climate action across demographics and regions.
Through “Project 17,” notable entertainer AY Young leverages music, a universal language with no boundaries, to mobilize people—particularly youth—to build bridges to one another and work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Project 17 builds on AY’s success in the Battery Tour, a renewable-powered tour with over 900 concerts thus far. AY is one of 17 Youth Leader’s for the UN’s Generation 17—the only one from the United States. In 2022, AY began developing a music album based on the UN SDGs. Each of the 17 songs of Project 17 will represent a different SDG, with collaborations with 17 prominent recording artists, as well as non-profit partners and businesses. The project is growing rapidly and inspiring millions of people to take action in their communities and put pressure on leaders to take bolder action towards the SDGs. While many sustainable investment projects are prescribed by western investors and driven by profit, Project 17 diverts all of the funds raised directly to Implementation Partners—local community leaders and organizations best positioned to carry out sustainable projects to better serve their constituents. AY Young and Project 17 have the potential to heal the world through music, collaboration, passion, and love.
The Earthshot Prize team will now begin the process of evaluating the various solutions nominated from around the world—including these six nominees—and will choose winners later this year. We congratulate our nominees and wish them the very best of luck!