Perhaps more than any other date on the calendar, Earth Day reminds us that we are all in this together. Despite our political, social, cultural, and geographic differences, we live on the same ball of rock and ice spinning through space; we breathe air from a common cloak of atmosphere; and we face a universally uncertain future as the climate continues to change.
Earth Day, dear writers, is an invitation to rally around our shared home. And young people are leading the way.
The past year has brought a surge of young voices sowing seeds of awareness and demanding change. From Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old founder of School Strike for Climate; to Autumn Peltier from Manitoulin Island in Canada, the 13-year-old advocate of safe drinking water for Indigenous communities; to 18 year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the youth director of Earth Guardians—a worldwide conservation organization; young people have a clear-eyed view of the future. You know in no uncertain terms that what will unfold in the coming decades is in your hands, whether it be climate change, species and ecosystem protection, or new technology to address myriad environmental concerns.
In celebration of Earth Day, Write the World is joining forces with Earth Day Network, Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, Save Elephant Foundation and Grand Canyon National Park,
to offer a special competition in celebration of Earth Day. There will be three different writing prompts to choose from, each addressing a separate aspect of the environmental issues of our time. The future, dear writers, is yours.
* Please read the accompanying writing guidelines, which you can link through to under “resources”. Please also be sure to clearly label the name of your chosen prompt at the top of your piece!
ICONIC SPECIES (OP-ED)
Whales and elephants, polar bears and leopards. These are the stuffed animals we grow up with, they’re on the posters adorning our bedroom walls, the subjects of our favorite documentaries. It is undeniable that certain threatened species capture our imaginations from a young age and don’t let go.
But iconic species are important not just for their memorable traits; the presence of such a species represents the health of an entire ecosystem. If polar bears are thriving in the tundra, most likely the muskoxes and snowy owls are, too.
How can we save iconic species from extinction, dear writers? In a 600-1,000 word Op-Ed, choose one species, and tell us how protection efforts should be focused.
** Note: The prompt calls for an op-ed. Please check out this resource
for writing guidelines.
SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION (PROPOSAL)
How will our actions today impact our children and grandchildren? What world will a child 100 years from now live in? It is hard to predict precisely the environmental threats future generations will face, but we know more now than ever before about the long-term effects of our carbon footprint. The good news is that we also have more tools to work with—technology, education, global communication—that we can apply to the problem.
In a 600-1,000 proposal, offer your own sustainability innovation for a problem faced by your community. What solution—large or small—can you design to help your family/school/neighborhood/town/city meet its current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own? How will this innovation help to sustain life on earth, in all of its forms?
** Note: The prompt calls for a proposal. Please check out this resource
for writing guidelines.
Saving Ourselves (CREATIVE NONFICTION)
In many places around the world, a warming world is already rearing its head. Rising seas are displacing low lying islanders; mountain villagers in the Himalayas are vacating their homes as glaciers recede and rivers run dry. In Algeria last summer, with temps spiking at 123°
F (that’s 50°C), workers at a petroleum plant walked off the job. “We couldn’t keep up,” one worker said. “It was impossible to do the work.”
In the coming years, these impacts will only grow more extreme and more widespread. And with time, we will realize that a changing climate doesn’t only threaten the existence of non-human species, it threatens us: people. Talk to islanders and mountain villagers, talk to Californians who have lost their homes to unprecedented fires, or Bangladeshis who have lost their homes to unprecedented floods, and you will realize the threat is already here.
In a 600-1,000 word piece of creative nonfiction, write about the threat of climate change in your lifetime, in your corner of the world.
** Note: The prompt calls for a piece of creative nonfiction. Please check out this resource
for writing guidelines
Who is Eligible?
Young writers ages 13-18
600 – 1,000 words
Tracey Ritchie is the Director of Education at Earth Day Network, the global coordinator of Earth Day. She received her PhD at the University of Florida and has been working in the field of Environmental Education for over 12 years.
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- Best Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
- Runner up: $50
- Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
Earth Day Writing Competition participants are strongly encouraged to submit their completed written works to Bow Seat’s 2019 Ocean Awareness Contest,
- Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
- Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
- Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday, March 11th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and education professionals.
an international scholarship program that challenges teens to explore critical ocean conservation issues through visual art, writing, film, and music.
April 22: Competition Opens
April 29: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
May 3: Reviews returned to Writers
May 7: Final Submissions Due
May 17: Winners Announced
Our Food Writing Competition opens Monday, May 6th.
Stay tuned for more details!