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Hanley Sustainability Institute

The Beast makes its way to University of Dayton campus

By Luci Bair

“There is no away.”

This slogan was the fuel behind a recent project done by University of Dayton students and Michael Bashaw, a local Dayton artist. In a world where disposable mindsets are the norm, this is a hard truth to swallow. While the plastic we use may be out of our sight after consumption, it does not go away. Our Earth is choking on plastic. Plastic is polluting our waters, destroying our ecosystems and wreaking havoc on our planet. 

In March, Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI) student leaders conducted a waste audit following a basketball game at The UD Arena. Our team sorted through 400 pounds of waste, which only makes up a fraction of the total produced in one night. We found that 45.8% of the waste collected was recyclable. Hearing about the results of the waste audit, Bashaw and his team wanted to help us make a stand against the excessive plastic consumption on our campus and the lack of proper disposal techniques. 

Throughout the month of April, HSI student leaders met with Bashaw and his team to plan a protest against the use of single-use plastics, which contribute greatly to our plastic problem. To make a meaningful stand against excessive plastic consumption on campus “The Beast'' was born.

The Beast was assembled in Bashaw’s studio using bamboo sticks. As students, we were given the mission to collect as many plastic bottles as possible from around campus. Considering countless plastic bottles are sold in every dining hall and used throughout campus every day, it was not difficult to find enough plastic. The hardest part was gathering bottles that were not completely filthy from other trash. Many leaders sorted through trash to gather enough bottles for our project. The lack of placing plastic bottles in appropriate bins is a big problem on campus. 

The Beast on Campus, HSI, 2024

On Monday, April 22, HSI staff and student leaders, Sustainability Club members, River Stewards and other faculty and students on campus participated in the protest. It consisted of marching The Beast around campus. Dressed in all black, we carried an enormous contraption filled with plastic as drums sounded our steps. It was a sight to behold.

Students gathered around Humanities Plaza and Kennedy Union to watch the moving of The Beast. Some students laughed, some students recorded the commotion, some simply watched and others participated in the protest by throwing more plastic into the “belly” of The Beast.

Regardless of the reactions, we got people’s attention. 

Later in the day, as I was eating my lunch, I overheard the conversation of the table next to me. I heard them question what was going on outside of Kennedy Union. One of them said, “Did you guys see the banner? It said there’s no away. That’s kinda the whole point.”

I have no idea if our efforts will enact any change at all. However, having conversations and raising awareness is the first step toward change. While you can never truly know the impact your work has on other people, or if it has inspired change in the slightest, it is validating to hear people talk about it.

Seeing our vision come to fruition was inspiring. As one of our leaders remarked, “When you get the attention of others, you have to have something powerful to say.”

Our message of reducing single-use plastics rang loud and clear. We all have a part to play in our mission to reduce single-use plastics to create a more sustainable campus community.

The Beast on Campus, HSI, 2024

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