Essay Contest | Nov 29, 2019

Keeping Our Fresh Water Lakes Free of Plastics: An essay/visual contest for IISD-ELA

*This contest has now closed and the winners have been selected.*

The lucky winners are Sabia Irfan, a Grade-9 student from Ottawa, Ontario, who explored the Perils of Plastics in Lake Ontario in her winning entry, and Ethan Done, a Grade-11 student from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who argued that electrocoagulation is The Key to Escaping Lake Ontario’s Plastic Prison in his winning essay.

“I entered the IISD-ELA essay contest because it was an opportunity to learn and write about one of today’s most important issues. This essay contest is an incredible opportunity for anyone who wants to combine their passion for writing and science to create something that has the potential to have an impact. So, if you’re someone who is thinking about entering this contest; do it! It is worth the time and effort!”

Ethan Done, Grade-11 student from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

“I am grateful to have been chosen as one of the winners of the esteemed IISD-ELA essay competition. To my fellow competitors and all other readers, plastic pollution is a global predicament we need to solve, and only we have the power to do so.”

Sabia Irfan, Grade-9 student from Ottawa, Ontario

You would have to have been living under a rock for the last few years to have missed the international uproar about the impact of plastics and microplastics on the health of the world’s water supplies.

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to aquatic ecosystems in the world, so much so, in fact, that we have just launched an unprecedented research project to find out how much microplastic is in our lakes, and the impact it has on the lake health.

We are asking Canadian school students (under 18 years of age) to submit an essay or a visual entry in which they  (1) research a freshwater lake from anywhere in the world and (2) explain (a) technological solution(s) to manage and reduce plastic/microplastic pollution in that lake.

The top entries from both categories will win an all-inclusive trip for two to IISD Experimental Lakes Area (once we have reopened for visits from the public) to learn, first-hand, how we carry out our unique brand of freshwater research. 

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to aquatic ecosystems in the world and has proven to be a great concern to governments and the public in the last few years

Contest Rules


The IISD Experimental Lakes Area “Keeping Our Freshwater Lakes Free of Plastics” essay or visual contest is open to residents of Canada who are currently enrolled in Grade K–12 at a Canadian institution, and are returning to school in the fall of 2020. Students should have a designated teacher to guide them through the process and review the materials before submission.


To be eligible for the contest, contestants must submit all of the following documents:

Entries must be submitted no later than April 20, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. CST.

For more information and for the complete guidelines, see below.