Art installation gets the boot because of Waco’s heavy rains

The trash monster that has sat next to the Waco Creek bridge near the Baylor Sciences Building for the last month will be deconstructed because of damage caused to the art piece by recent rain. The monster was constructed by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and the Baylor Sustainability Student Advisory Board using trash collected from Waco Creek. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

This week, students will have to say farewell to the friendly trash monster next to the bridge over Waco Creek that greeted passers-by.

The sculpture was a collaboration between Baylor’s Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry and the Baylor Sustainability Student Advisory Board. A graduate student who is a member of the society suggested the group build a sculpture out of trash similar to the one constructed at her alma mater.

Every year, the society participates in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. In the event, groups from around the world pick up trash from marine bodies or their tributaries and record how much trash was gathered and how much it weighs. Then the groups submit its data to the Ocean Conservancy to be compiled.

20061122 SM Landfill
This graphic shows the basic function of a modern landfill. Both the society and the advisory board work to decrease the production of trash on campus.

This September, the society pulled approximately 150 pounds of trash from Waco Creek. Most of the trash consisted of Styrofoam and plastic bottles, but the scavengers were also rewarded with unusual finds such as an oil filter, part of a couch and the bicycle the trash monster rides upon.

“We saved all the trash from that cleanup and used it during our trash monster construction,” Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry president and Orlando, Fla., graduate student Bekah Burkett said. “We hope that the sculpture will raise awareness about the amount of litter that washes into the creek.”

The project took the two groups nine hours to complete, with seven of those hours dedicated to the trash monster’s construction. About 20 students from both groups participated in bringing the sculpture to its feet, Burkett said.

“I think the process was the most enjoyable part. We had no concrete plans when we set out to build the monster. It was really fun to start the project with just a huge pile of trash on the grass and finish with a bear lassoing a cyclone,” Burkett said.

The group had planned to incorporate the trash monster into homecoming activities, but the weather made that difficult.

“We were thinking about trying to get it on a float in the homecoming parade, but we didn’t have the funds, time or know-how to get that accomplished,” said Pearland junior Mark McComb, Sustainability Student Advisory Board member.

Now, nearly a month after its completion, the groups have decided to take the trash monster down. Although the groups were told they could leave the sculpture up for longer, the recent rains caused the students to decided to take it down. The monster was still in relatively good condition, but the groups decided that it had lived long enough.

Burkett said she hopes that her organization participates in building next year’s trash monster.

“Everyone had a blast building the monster and feedback from faculty and staff has been very positive. We hope to even include a large sign next time that highlights where the trash came from, as well as the quantity and types of trash in the monster,” Burkett said.