SETAC tackles Waco Creek, pulls 150 pounds of trash

By Rachel Leland, Reporter

Baylor’s chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry gathered 150 pounds of trash and over 1000 pieces of Styrofoam from Waco Creek near the Baylor Science Building, this weekend.

The event was organized by Orlando graduate student Bekah Burket as a part of the International Coastal Cleanup, an annual event sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy.

During the International Costal Cleanup, volunteers are asked to clean up trash from marine bodies around the world. Last year, 560,000 volunteers from 91 countries participated in picking up more than 16 million pounds of trash.

Burket said the ICC is different from other cleanups because volunteers must log the total weight of the trash they gather.

“I will compile the data and send it to them. They take those reports to Congress and to lobbyists and show how much pollution leads to the oceans,” Burket said.

Prior to volunteering with BU-SETAC, Burket volunteered with the ICC when she was an undergraduate.

“We would go to the beach [for ICC],” Burket said of her volunteerism. “My goal is eventually to go to the beach for SETAC. We clean Waco Creek because all of the water goes to the Gulf here.”

SETAC is a professional organization that provides a forum for scientists and academics to study, analyze and produce solutions to environmental programs.

Most of the trash the group picked up consisted of food wrappers, Styrofoam and plastic. However, the students were excited to find a few oddities. The group made a few more interesting finds in the creek including a sofa, a Fazolis sign and a bicycle.

The environmental group used the cleanup as an opportunity to learn more about the organic life that lives in Waco Creek.

“When I got out there I was sifting through different organic matter and it was so cool because you saw all the macro organisms,” Chapel Hill, North Carolina freshman Suzanne Acton said.

Boston senior John Kou made a startling find when he fell into the creek.

“I was trying to grab some trash that was imbedded right next to some deep roots. The ground sunk a bit and I fell in,” Kou said. “I have an interest in medicine that stuff doesn’t really scare me. I have a passion for entymology.”

Someone told Beaumont grad student Casan Scott about a bike, so he went into the water to retrieve it and rode it around for a little bit.

“When I started peddling it the chain snapped. The bike was in good condition. It was probably only in there for six months,” Scott said.

Scott said he plans to use the bicycle for the “trash monster,” BU-SETAC’s first ever float in the homecoming parade.

“It’s going to be a transformer type of trash monster with wheels and stuff,” Scott said.