The Observer Ethical Awards, in association with Ecover, launched today as the search begins to find the UK’s environmental and social justice champions for 2013.
The awards are the only ones hosted by a national newspaper, which focus on both environmental change and social justice. They highlight the initiatives, campaigns and people – big or small – that make it possible for us to act and live in a sustainable way. They shine a light on breakthrough business ideas, support projects that make ethical living a real-world option and highlight the young people determined to fix the planet they will inherit. This year the awards are also on the lookout for a fashion fan who has managed to merge ethics with style and a standout travel initiative that shows how sustainable travel can be a boon for people and planet.
Lucy Siegle, awards founder and chair of the judging panel, said: “Over eight years of these awards we have witnessed an explosion in sustainable thinking and practice. There are some breathtaking initiatives coming out of the UK and we’re expecting some world-class winners this year. I’d say to everyone from lone campaigners to companies small and large, let us know what you are doing! And if you know someone great who is too shy or modest to enter, do it for them!
The awards are a highly respected authority on ethical living and are supported by judges who are leading UK figures across science, culture and business. This year’s celebrity judging panel includes Livia Firth, creative director of Eco Age and co-founder of the Green Carpet Challenge; Deborah Meaden, business woman and Dragons Den star; Iwan Thomas, Olympian and Tim Burgess, Charlatans frontman and fair-trade advocate.
Winners are announced in June and will feature in a special issue of the Observer Magazine. Past winners include chef and campaigner, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall; DIY giant, B&Q; environmental campaigner, Al Gore and naturalist and broadcaster, David Attenborough, who was presented with his award by awards judge and actor, Colin Firth.
Readers nominate in the below categories and then the winner is voted for by the public:
Readers can nominate their favourite retailers – local, national or online – that can demonstrate their ethical credentials.
Past winners of this award include Al Gore, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and campaigner for ethical standards in gold mining, Greg Valerio. This category recognises a public-facing campaigner who has made the biggest difference to Observer readers and put ethical issues on the global agenda.
Unsung Local Hero
From campaigners to conservationists, the awards are looking for those hard-working volunteers who strive to build a better nation for all of us. Readers nominate those in their community who are going the extra green mile for its environment and people.
Readers nominate in the below categories and then the winner is selected by our panel of judges:
Travel (sponsored by Virgin Holidays)
New for this year, readers can nominate those who are pioneering a sustainable approach to travel and are a potential game-changer for tourism.
Arts and Culture
The arts can be a strong, emotive way of creating a call to action around ethical issues. Readers can nominate a play, documentary, film, book, song or dance performance of the last year that has inspired them to make a change.
For the below categories individuals or organisations are invited to enter themselves and the winners will be selected by the judging panel:
Big Idea (sponsored by National Grid)
Open to individuals who have invented an innovative ethical product or service, a small business or academic institution with an ethical idea, or an established organisation pushing the boundaries.
The winner of this category will receive £2,000 and two runners up will receive awards of £500 each from National Grid.
Business Initiative (sponsored by Jupiter Asset Management)
This category is for businesses – large or small – who are true sustainable visionaries. This year the judges will focus on specific breakthrough business initiatives from companies that have instilled ethics into their supply chain using new technology or slashed their carbon footprint by installing renewables.
Ecover Young Green Champions (sponsored by Ecover)
Open to under 18s who have brilliant ethical ideas whether that be a super smart recycling idea, a project to save wildlife or a business that saves energy. They might be a solo act or a group of classmates or friends.
This year the awards will also recognise the vital work done by teachers, parents or community leaders working with young people on ethical projects. Those that nominate or encourage young people to enter could win a three night stay for a family of four at the beautiful Coppice Woodland in Hertfordshire.
Either way the awards are looking for a project to fund to the tune of £6,000* with money from Ecover.
Product Design – designing for negawatts (sponsored by B&Q)
Energy-saving devices, schemes and designs can change the habits of consumers to increase negawatts – a theoretical unit that represents energy saved. Enter your own energy-efficient device or nominate an invention you use that saves energy.
Well dressed (sponsored by Eco Age)
The Observer teams up with the FruGal Challenge – a street style project from Eco-Age.com – to find an individual who lives and breathes sustainable fashion and style. Send in your pictures and the story behind your outfit to be crowned king or queen of stylish ethics. The Eco Age website offers plenty of inspiration.
Those that enter or nominate an organisation or individual for The Observer Ethical Awards have the chance of winning a seven night tour of Kerala for two adults on a bed and breakfast basis with CGH Earth Hotels, including return Economy flights to Mumbai with VirginAtlantic, transfers and two excursions courtesy of Virgin Holidays.
To nominate someone or an organisation for The Observer Ethical Awards visit: www.observer.co.uk/ethicalawards
*The winning project receives a £6,000 grant payable as 3 x £2,000 a year installment over three years from Ecover. Installments are paid yearly subject to an annual project appraisal and agreed spending plan between the winner and Ecover.
Ecover is the world’s largest producer of ecological cleaning products, using sustainable plant and mineral-based ingredients to create highly effective cleaning products that achieve the lowest possible toxicity and the most rapid and complete biodegradability. Constantly innovating, Ecover continues to expand and improve its product range, including the development of a new eco-surfactant for use in its hard surface cleaners, meaning the range cleans as well as or better than – the UK’s leading conventional brands. All of Ecover’s plastic bottles are made from Plant-astic a 100 per cent renewable, reusable and recyclable plastic made from sugarcane. Ecover was the first cleaning brand in the UK to use Plant-astic and has used it across its product range since 2011. For more information on this pioneering brand, visit www.the-splash.co.uk