By Renae Hesselink, CPIM, LEED AP BD+C
Vice President of Sustainability, Nichols & SustainAble Solutions
The Whitehall Middle School Carbon Busters are a group of seven middle school students who recently competed in the Lexus Eco Challenge to win scholarships and grant money and take action to improve the surrounding environment.
The challenge had two parts. The first phase required teams to address the topics of land, water, air or climate and challenged them to make a difference for the environment in their local communities. The Final Challenge asked teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world. Whitehall students were super excited to be one of eight middle schools nationwide to win the Air and Climate Challenge in January 2012 by creating and implementing a project to reduce carbon emissions at their school. The students went on to win the final competition by focusing on reducing their carbon footprint by choosing to drink tap water over bottled water. The students wrote a proclamation for “Michigan Drinks Tap Water Week” which Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder approved this year.
The team also implemented other environmental projects including using their research to convince classmates to sign a pledge to choose tap water over bottled water and creating an action plan for fellow students to follow to help reduce their environmental impact. The total reward was $25,000. In addition, the school raised almost $500 by selling red drinking cups for Valentine’s Day and donated the proceeds to a UNICEF project to bring clean water to impoverished countries.
Shelley Irwin, host and producer at NPR/PBS WGVU Morning Show, interviewed the winning students and their environmental science teacher Mrs. Susan Tate about their project. Congrats to all of the students for their hard work, and a successful challenge!