EDITOR'S NOTE: The Hanley Sustainability Institute is a Sustainability Program at the University of Dayton. St. Peter's graduate Chris Baldasare is a graduate assistant and doing a project with HSI. This story was republished courtesy of HSI.
DAYTON -- Starting at a young age, Hanley Sustainability Institute graduate assistant Chris Baldasare took apart mechanical pencils, Lego sets, and later old computers and electronics.
The Mansfield St. Peter's graduate also learned about nature while becoming an Eagle Scout.
“As a kid I would find myself breaking things apart, just to put them back together. I had a passion for building and hands-on work,” he said. “The scouts have a saying which is ‘leave no trace’ meaning that when you are camping to leave the area as you found it. Being in scouts growing up definitely also played a role in my interest in sustainability.”
Fast forward to 2020 and Baldasare is working on his master’s in engineering management after graduating last fall from the University of Dayton with a mechanical engineering degree.
“Most of my engineering classes touch on (sustainability) because being sustainable and using less material helps to benefit our planet and save money on production for companies,” he said. “Also being an engineering student, we are pressed with a lot of concern, being the ones who have to fix or find solutions to environmental problems.”
Baldasare is on HSI’s waste diversion team, where he and four undergrads are revamping the compost program. He said the one goal is to make composting nearly campuswide this fall as opposed to 2019’s opt-in style to get through a pilot stage.
“We had 400 people participate last semester; we even had people on the waiting list,” Baldasare said. “So, our goal for the fall semester is to make it available to everybody in the whole south student neighborhood.”
This spring, about a quarter of that area (75 houses out of 284) signed up and the nine-week program has started.
“We give each participating house a bucket to collect compostable items and collect the buckets at the end of each week.” said Claire Abele, another student on the waste team along with Claire Roberts, John Barnard and Amanda Ratliff. “We all work very hard to make the composting program work.”
Baldasare finds students to be conscientious and trying to live more sustainable lives. The waste diversion team also works the zero-waste events.
“If there is a big event on campus, we will come with our special trash can and sort recycling and compost,” Baldasare said. “At the trash cans, there are volunteers to direct students (to explain) what can be recycled and composted.
"By doing this we can prevent about 80 percent of the waste from going to a landfill. These events provide the perfect opportunity to educate the students about recycling and especially composting.”
Baldasare hopes to work in product or prosthesis development when he graduates with his master’s degree, but said his grad assistant job “has given me a productive outlet for my interest in sustainability.”
Christopher Baldasare earned the rank of Eagle Scout March 28, 2012 after constructing Dog Adventure Area for the Richland County Humane Society. He led the design and construction of dog exercise equipment, 500-foot dog exercise trail and resting bench for volunteers. Baldasare is an active Committee Member with St. Peter's Parish (Mansfield) Scouts BSA Troop 7121 and the University of Dayton Epsilon Tau Pi, Alpha Colony (Epsilon Tau Pi is an honorary Eagle Scout Fraternity established to form a brotherhood of Eagle Scouts upholding the ideals of Scouting and the rank of Eagle Scout http://epsilontaupi.org).