While most students were sound asleep, others volunteered to wake up before the crack of dawn to fill the Reflecting Pond with 150,000 water bottles Wednesday.
Though groggy and tired at 4:30 a.m., more than 100 students pooled efforts to sort through hundreds of bags filled with recycled material to find all the water bottles. The bottles had been collected from around campus by UCF Recycles since early March for this SGA Reflect on Sustainability event, a culmination of six months of planning and approval from UCF.
"I have a personal vendetta against plastic water bottles," said Emily Dovydaitis, SGA health & sustainability coordinator, who spearheaded the event. Since high school, the energetic organizer has been nagging friends about putting the "reduce" back into the phrase "reduce, reuse, recycle."
"They don't make sense," Dovydaitis said. "They are not sustainable habits to have ... In the United States, we are so fortunate to have clean water. In a lot of other countries you don't have that easy access, but here there's almost no excuse for you not to use a re-usable water bottle."
Before rolling up their sleeves to sort through 10 dumpsters worth of recycled material, Dovydaitis said students' jaws dropped at the sight of it all.
"As the container sort of elevates itself and the door swings open, and a couple items swing out, and then a bag drops out, and it all just dumps on the ground," she said.
SGA had previously planned to fill the pond with 250,000 bottles, however Dovydaitis said only seven of the dumpsters were emptied.
Jesse Faylo, a sophomore information technology major, said he was glad to see the number of students who rose bright and early for the tedious task.
"It was great to see how well-motivated everyone was at 4:30 in the morning — you wouldn't expect that, but we were," he said
Dovydaitis said environmental sustainability has always resonated with her, and she organized this event to catalyze awareness of just how much plastic students are using through this visual representation.
"It's our job to take care of it, the environment is our foundation, and without our solid foundation you can't have a successful society," she said.
Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.