Academic Spotlight: Sophia Martin

Sophia Martin ’22, creator of Eco-takeout

Western Reserve Academy prides itself on providing its students with opportunities to pursue their passions on a more extensive scale, one such student is Sophia Martin ’22. You may recognize her extraordinary piano performances alongside WRA’s orchestra or her iconic appearance in last year’s Lunar New Year Performance video. Moreover, you might have also heard of her Compass project: To-go Green.

Last year, WRA offered a carry-out option for lunch. Although this method proved convenient, as Sophia claimed during her Compass Speaks presentation: “We are creating literal tons of plastic waste every year we use the container program.” To support her point, Sophia provides the following example: fifty students alone, utilizing plastic to-go containers, would produce around 1.5 tons of plastic waste each year, which is roughly the weight of an average car. Scaling that example shows that the roughly combined 450 students and faculty would generate about 13.5 tons of plastic waste each year. “Although these plastic containers are a cheaper option,” she notes, “the amount of plastic is something that will cost people financially and environmentally.” This is where Sophia’s solution, Eco-takeout, comes in.

By developing Eco-takeout, Sophia’s objective was to cut down on single-use plastic containers by implementing a more sustainable system within the dining hall. The container, made of polypropylene, would be safe for commercial dishwashers while also being recyclable towards the end of its life cycle, her goal is to have every two individuals share three reusable containers. Once someone finishes using their container, they can return it to be washed, creating what Sophia considers “a closed-loop system that ensures every person would have a container on any given day.”

Sophia mentions that compass organizer, Dr. Borrmann, provided much support throughout her journey. “His dedication to Compass and passion for sustainability guided me and my project along the way,” she adds. Sophia remains grateful to the head chef in the dining hall, Mr. Mundy for offering suggestions while considering the general dining experience and environmental goals. Finally, she would like to thank Mr. Gerber, the Chief Innovation Officer, for aiding her in constructing a technologically-based accountability system for her project. She concludes that she is “just infinitely lucky to meet these incredibly driven, passionate, and overall cool people who care here at WRA.”

Sophia hopes to continue her environmental efforts beyond Reserve through “car[ing] more about what we do now and the larger-scale impacts that it ends up having.”

-Angela Benzigar ’22

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