A year-long crusade to ban the use of to-go styrofoam containers on Mercer Island began last April in a classroom at Lakeridge elementary school.
The student Green Team was “looking for an Earth Week campaign to make real change and decided the use of styrofoam was toxic to our environment and to our health and had to go,” said Lakeridge parent and district Green Team chair Nancy Weil.
They created a petition and received 200 student signatures. They then put it onto Change.org, and received another 1,300 signatures from Mercer Island residents urging the city council to ban single-use styrofoam containers. They also presented their petition to the city council.
The students waited patiently as the months passed, but no change came, Weil said, so the students decided to approach the restaurants directly and ask them to consider stopping the use of to-go styrofoam containers. Weil set up meetings with the owners of the restaurants still using styrofoam to discuss the issues that the student Green Team was working on.
The restaurant owners of Pho’em and Toshi’s Teriyaki, upon learning about the student petition to ban styrofoam and the concerns around the toxic chemicals that styrofoam emits when it comes in contact with hot foods, immediately agreed to discontinue the purchase of styrofoam to-go products and change to recyclable containers. Within two weeks of the meetings, both restaurants called Weil and invited her to their restaurants to show that they no longer use styrofoam.
“This grass roots effort of children to change our world by being true stewards for our environment while having an impact on adult business owners and our community at large is truly inspirational,” Weil said.