Conservation Champions

Lexus Eco Challenge rewards students’ environmentally friendly projects
 

April 19, 2017
Did you know that approximately 500 million plastic drinking straws are used in the U.S. every day?
 
Neither did we until we heard about a middle school straw project that won the Lexus Eco Challenge grand prize this month.
 
Inspiring young people to learn more about the environment and take action to improve it is why Lexus started the Eco Challenge 10 years ago. The 2016-17 challenge attracted more than 1,700 student participants. Lexus is awarding $500,000 in scholarships and grants to students, teachers and schools this year for making a positive environmental impact.
 
Eight first place-winning teams will receive $15,000 each. Two schools won the $30,000 grand prize.
 
Skip the Straws -- Plastic straw pollution in lakes and oceans was the focus of the grand-prize winning team, the “WMS Coral Keepers,” from Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, Mich.

 

The “WMS Coral Keepers” from Whitehall Middle School in Whitehall, Mich., wanted to bring attention to the issue of plastic straw pollution in lakes and oceans and encourage everyone to “Skip the Straw!” Not only are plastic straws widely used, they break into tiny pieces that are eaten by birds, fish and other marine animals.

The team eliminated plastic straws in their school and offered the option to purchase reusable or paper straws, and also worked with area restaurants to reduce straw usage. They furthered their community outreach with social media and provided interviews to local newspapers and television stations.                                        
 
Treasuring Trash -- “Second Chance Band” from Lebanon Trail High School in Frisco, Texas, made 75 musical instruments using recycled materials. Their grand-prize winning project focused on the problem of U.S. landfills filling up with trash and the increase of ocean trash pollution.

 

“Second Chance Band” from Lebanon Trail High School in Frisco, Texas, focused on the problem of U.S. landfills filling up with trash and the increase of ocean trash pollution. The team’s focus was to educate the community about landfill stress and demonstrate the value for trash through a culture of upcycling and re-purposing. They created a unique recycling project using trash and other discarded objects to create 75 instruments, including a violin from a tin lunch box and discarded violin neck, small drums from a Styrofoam box, old X-ray films and a broken picture frame, and flutes from found metal pipes. Using social media, the team was able to reach the global community and share their how-to videos. They also sent the recycled instruments to areas in need around the world, from Latin America to the Middle East.

To learn more about the program and the winners click here.

Lexus will open the 11th annual 2017-18 Lexus Eco Challenge this fall. Information on how students and teachers can participate in the “Land and Water” and/or “Air and Climate” challenges will be available this summer.
 
By Karen Nielsen
 

<< Back

You must be logged in to view this item.



Login

This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile and check the box marked "Check here to register as an accredited member of the news media". Please include any notes in the "Supporting information for media credentials" box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail in one business day.