Gotland is Sweden’s largest island and the site of the contest, which started in 2022.
The winner for 2023 was Stina Östman. “It was the easiest competition to win; I didn’t have to do anything,” she told the Guardian. “It’s always nice to win, even if you are the worst.” To commemorate her victory, she received a T-shirt and a diploma.
Östman’s dog also got to celebrate the win. “The dog loves to dig in the dust, so there are a lot of holes and bumps, so at least he’s very happy,” she said.
While Swedish residents have long loved green lawns, just like Americans, water shortages may mean that attitudes need to shift. Sweden is one of 25 countries worldwide that the Guardian reports are facing extreme water stress — and these 25 countries are also home to more than one-fourth of the world’s population.
Indeed, the ugliest lawn competition started in response to an irrigation ban affecting local residents. The measure was implemented to address water shortages, as the island is expected to see a 13% decrease in water availability between 2021 and 2050.
Given those conditions, watering a lawn would be quite wasteful and would use up clean water that could be put to better use for people and the environment. “We shouldn’t be embarrassed if our lawns are not perfect or green,” Östman said. “I don’t feel ashamed — I’m happy to show the world — or at least Gotland.”
The event is soon to become a global one. Gotland is now accepting submissions for the world’s ugliest lawn, the Guardian reports.
Competition organizer Johan Gustafsson told the Guardian, “We wanted to make sustainability communication positive — it’s common to see negative headlines that make you feel bad. This is the opposite — the competition made people smile and they didn’t have to do a thing to participate, they could just relax and have a cup of tea. We think that also made it a success.”
If you’d like to join the fun, you can submit a picture of your ugly lawn on Instagram with the hashtag #worldsugliestlawn or email email@example.com.
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