9th Grader’s Eco-Minded App Earns Praise From Capitol Hill

By Daniel Langhorne
Shaurya Mittal '26 noticed how an uptick of Postmates, Uber Eats and Doordash orders during the pandemic stuffed his household’s trash cans with Styrofoam and plastic.

His quest for a solution led him to develop a smartphone app that empowers consumers to make educated decisions based on the environmental toll of ordering from their favorite restaurants. EcoTakeOut uses an algorithm to assign scores for to-go meals based on the ingredients, packaging, logistics and other open source data. With climate change-fueled weather conditions creating havoc, many people are craving direction on how they can personally make an impact, Shaurya said.

He believes his app can be a small piece of the puzzle.

“I was curious about it and I read that the amount of food-related waste had skyrocketed since the pandemic started,” Shaurya said. “People knew this was an issue but didn’t really know how to deal with it and what items they should recycle. I thought it would be a good idea for people to have a source of information for how to make better choices about their takeout.”

His efforts gained the attention of one of the region’s most significant lawmakers.
In one of his last acts before retiring this year, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) named Shaurya as the winner of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 47th District.

In 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives started hosting district-wide Congressional App Challenges for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and pursue STEM careers.
App Challenge winners are invited to a reception this spring in Washington, D.C., this spring. Shaurya looks forward to seeing a photo of his app displayed alongside others in a Capitol Hill gallery.

After December passed with no update on his application, Shaurya was surprised to find his advisor and AP Calculus teacher Dr. Dinh Nguyen hand him an envelope addressed from the U.S. Congress on the opening day of second semester.

“It was nice to be able to go home and celebrate with my family. I sent them a picture right away because we were wondering what happened. It was definitely unexpected,” he said.

Shaurya had some coding experience before creating EcoTakeOut but he learned how to use tools from AppGyver and Xano by watching free videos on YouTube. His app is available for free on the Apple App Store.

This isn’t the first time Sage Hill students have taken first place in the competition. Melody Yu ’25 was part of a duo awarded first place by Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach) in the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 48th District. Melody helped create the app VORA, which allows a smartphone to act like a robotic service dog for visually impaired individuals, rapidly identifying people and objects in a person’s path. Arietta Goshtasby ’24 took home second place last year for her app, Therabot, in the same congressional district.

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Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.