It's estimated each day in America, 500 million plastic drinking straws are used and discarded. Students at Whitehall Middle School were concerned about the impact all those straws have on the environment.

So the school’s Lexus Eco Challenge team -- The Coral Keepers -- planned a "skip the straw day" at their school and petitioned the National Day Calendar organization to add National Skip the Straw Day on the fourth Friday in February each year.

Out of 18,000 yearly National Day submissions, Skip the Straw Day was one of only 30 new designations selected by the calendar.

Now, the public can celebrate National Skip the Straw Day by posting strawless selfies on social media with the hashtag #SkiptheStrawDay.

The school's Lexus Eco Challenge group is planning another community event to follow the success of last year's project. This event is a community bike ride to promote alternative transportation, reducing carbon emission from vehicles.

"Mostly we want to raise awareness about how cars affect us and put pollution in the air and how it is better to ride bikes or walk," said Olivia Hitsman.

Whitehall Middle School's Lexus Eco Challenge team, "Handlebar Heroes," are riding bikes Friday, Nov. 17 from Medbury Park in Montague to the White River Light Station.

The 13 mile ride should begin around 2 p.m.

"Cars are not good for the environment," said Madie English. "We hope people ride their bikes more or walk more."

As part of the event, students are raising money for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

"One of the things that motivates me to do this with kids is I love how they can see that they are change makers in the community," said Susan Tate, Whitehall teacher.

The Lexus Eco Challenge is a national STEM competition in which students in grades 6-12 identify an environmental problem and then research and implement a solution.

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