Tucson high schooler helps local restaurants go green
Author: Caiylin Schmidt
Takeout meals became a way of life for the Levine family, and many others, during the pandemic. But after two years of watching countless plastic and foam s end up in her family's trashcan, University High School senior Aiko Levine decided to take action. She stad an organization called Takeout Turnaround and spent last summer calling local restaurants and offering to help them transition from plastic and Styrofoam to more sustainable, fiber-based takeout products.Plastic items from takeout food and drinks make up almost half of the human-made waste in the world's oceans, a 2021 study published in the journal Nature Sustainability found. Researchers found that food s, single-use bags, plastic bottles and food wrappers are the four most widespread items polluting the oceans. The study also showed that 10 types of plastic products accounted for three-quars of the litter, due to their widespread use and extremely slow degradation. After working with Levine, one prominent Tucson restaurateur made the choice to choose eco-friendly products. Takeout Turnaround has grown into a school club with other students participating in the effort. Levine also has the ear of officials at Tucson's largest school district, and the potential to create widespread change in Pima County. Levine, 17, says she was inspired by a mentor who was passionate about environmental initiatives. Her participation in a research-guided sustainability program prompted her to take action. "I had the idea for awhile. We were big consumers when it came to ordering takeout during the pandemic," Levine said. "I have a big family, so when we eat out, we always have a bunch of boxes." She did some research into alternatives to the plastic foam and single-use plastics she watched pile up in the trash, discovering fiber-based products from a California-based company called PrimeWare.