The 2010-2011 Lexus Eco Challenge wasn’t just one more aspect of the luxury brand’s continuing efforts to increase environmental awareness support green causes; it was also a chance to help students discover a wide range of ecological issues and develop their own passion for sustainability and community action.
The Lexus Eco Challenge is aimed at young people in middle school and high school. It asks specific questions about the environment at the local level to inspire students to develop community solutions to important ecological issues. The 2010-2011 edition of the Challenge attracted 4,000 participants split into 500 teams. Thirty-two of those teams were selected to move to the second phase of the program where they encountered bigger-picture green concepts and were asked to come up with larger-scale solutions.
Of these 32 teams, eight First Place and two Grand Prize winners were chosen based on the strengths of the ecological projects they developed. The eight First Place winning teams reflected remarkable diversity in their understanding of and innovative approaches to environmental topics, tackling subjects
as varied as the dangers posed by mercury in cosmetics, reducing coastal litter to protect sea turtle populations, protecting woodland areas from the devastation of gypsy moths and lowering the carbon footprint of a community.
The first Lexus Eco Challenge Grand Prize winner was the Clark Magnet High School team from La Crescenta, California. They impressed with their in-depth presentation on the dangers of pollution making its way through the local ocean food chain. The group of students, who dubbed themselves the “Eco Savers 2011,” put together a program that involved testing seafood samples, mapping out potential toxic threats in the area and involving their school and the towns surrounding it in solutions designed to reduce the impact of waterway pollution.
The St. James School in Madison, Wisconsin, (team name “Ladies of the Light”), put their minds to work on issues surrounding renewable energy. The group approached Madison Gas & Electric about a sponsorship program through which schools that purchased solar panels would receive scholarship support from the utility. They also educated other students, and members of their community, as to the necessity of adopting renewable energy solutions, raising enough money along the way to install a solar panel at their own school.
In addition to the chance to gain firsthand experience in the world of environmental change and impact the awareness of their local towns and schools, each First Place team earned $15,000 in grants and scholarships. Grand Prize winners took home $30,000 in grants and scholarships with Lexus offering a total of half a million dollars in financial support – along with substantial educational materials – to participants in the Eco Challenge.
Through the Lexus Eco Challenge, Lexus shares its focus on the environment with the young minds responsible for the decisions concerning tomorrow’s green future, and also rewards them on their journey of ecological discovery.