TEA Earth Warriors Win 4th-Place in the Annual Shane McConkey Foundation Eco Challenge

The purpose of the contest is to create a more environmentally friendly community through student-driven work.

TEA’s Environmental Club, the Earth Warriors, were recently awarded 4th-place in the annual Shane McConkey Foundation Eco-Challenge. The purpose of the contest is to create a more environmentally friendly community through student-driven work. To learn more about this event and how it came to be, watch this awesome video featuring the man himself, the late (and great) Shane McConkey.

To enter the contest, the TEA Earth Warriors had to:

1. Create an eco-team of kids with an adult advisor.

2. Identify an environmental problem in your school or community.

3. Problem solve and then implement a solution.

4. Document your findings and enter your results in a project report.


The TEA Earth Warriors include Summer Benjamin — founder/ co-leader, Caroline Sandberg — founder/ co-leader, Peyton Broll, Kira Baker, Olivia Mason, Luke Robinson, Beck Marshall, Max Loughan, Zachary Wallpe, Johan Sotelo, and Jackson Simon. The adult advisors are Nilo Bill and Cheri Sugal.

Their submission addressed the issue of single-use plastics. An estimated 18 billion pounds of single-use plastics from restaurants are swept into the ocean and other waterways every year, harming marine life and human health. Their project aimed to address the problem of the continued use of these single-use plastics, such as straws, forks or take-out boxes by restaurants by building a model in our community that can be used in other parts of the country and the world.

Their goal is to help restaurants in the Truckee-Tahoe area replace single-use plastics with eco-friendly alternatives and to celebrate and promote (via social media and their website) those who are taking positive steps towards this goal.

After seeing a few of their favorite restaurants taking action, the TEA Earth Warriors realized that every restaurant had the potential to also do this with some positive encouragement.

Through their Instagram @eco.eaters and their website ecoeaters.org/ecoeaters.com (under construction), they aim to positively promote restaurants that are reducing single-use plastics and encourage restaurants who use these products to switch to more environmentally friendly utensils including to-go boxes, straws, plates, and silverware.


Their target audiences are both tourists and Tahoe-Truckee area residents who are searching for restaurants to dine at. Specifically, they hope to be a source of information for people seeking for environmentally-friendly restaurants and for people trying to do their part to reduce plastic waste.

The timeline for completion is the end of the 2019 calendar year. Students have faced several challenges so far, but have managed to overcome them. One problem they encountered was getting the courage to talk to the restaurant employees and ask questions.

Another challenge was figuring out where to start with the project. Both of these were overcome by the sheer power of the people in our school’s environmental club.

So far, they have learned that it is possible to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that restaurants use and that many of the restaurants in our area need the encouragement (and positive feedback from locals and tourists) to do so. Their quantifiable outcome will be their collection of restaurant data demonstrating the reduction in single-use plastics among the Tahoe-Truckee Eco Eater restaurants.