According to TheWorldCounts.com, 2.12 billion tons of waste is produced globally each year. Of this, approximately nine tenths of solid waste do not get recycled. The Friendswood High School Recycling Club and Sebastien Bartlett, FHS senior, are on a mission to decrease this number by recycling more and encouraging others to do the same.
Bartlett has been a part of the recycling club since his freshman year. The four-year member does not just believe in reducing, reusing and recycling; he lives it.
“I grew up in a family that was always very environmentally conscious,” Bartlett said. “Recycling is the right thing to do. We take so much from the Earth, it’s only fair we give back as much as we can.”
The Recycling Club was started by FHS teacher Elizabeth Woodley 11 years ago in 2007 after she had students approach her with a vision of making FHS more environmentally friendly. Starting with just six cardboard boxes and collecting recycling solely from the Social Studies Department, the Recycling Club has since expanded to collecting recycling from 90 offices throughout the campus. She said it is because of students like Bartlett, the club has seen such growth and success.
“If I had 50 of him, it would be great because he is so enthusiastic,” Woodley said. “He just wants to give it all he has when he’s here, and that’s really what it’s all about.”
As a member of the Recycling Club, Bartlett shows up to Woodley’s classroom after school every Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. and begins to gather the supplies needed for the collection of the recycling. From there, he and other students divide themselves and go to various locations throughout the school. Once all recycling is collected, the students meet outside to sort through what they collected.
Bartlett said he enjoys the process not just because it is something he is passionate about, but also because he has made many friends through his membership in the club.
“All my friends are in here and we have a great time,” Bartlett said. “While we’re out collecting bins, we’ll talk and have different debates and different discussions. It gives us time to be together and just talk.”
FHS senior Nicholas Le is amongst the friends Bartlett has made.
“Sebastien is funny, dependable and trustworthy. He’s just a great guy,” Le said. “He takes initiative. He doesn’t show up just for community service hours; he shows up because he wants to help out.”
Though he is admired by his colleagues, Bartlett said he does not need any recognition.
“I wouldn’t consider myself to be outstanding. I’m just doing what I think is right,” Bartlett stated. “I’m not an officer and I would never be an officer for this club because I don’t need the higher status to prove anything to anybody.”
Woodley commended Bartlett’s mentality.
“I like the fact he’s not a leader because he’s valuable-invaluable. We call this ‘Team Save the World’ and that’s Sebastien,” Woodley said. “[Recycling Club] is something he truly believes in and it is my hope he will carry this work throughout his life.”
Bartlett and the Recycling Club have already expanded their reach by working with Friendswood Parks and Recreation, Keep Friendswood Beautiful and the Ronald McDonald House.
“We take part in a lot of community events, so we help with a lot of the major cleanups,” Bartlett said. “Seeing the before-and-after first hand and how much nicer we leave things is rewarding. In doing what we do, we’re trying to save the world so humankind can continue on throughout the generations.”
The Recycling Club has already made an impact on FHS in its efforts to save the world. To date, FHS students have collected approximately 621,180 plastic bottles (averaging about 69,020 bottles per year) and 545,900 cans (averaging about 5,100 cans per year). These averages do not include the community events or stadium cleanups in which the Recycling Club participates.
Woodley was brought to tears when discussing her appreciation for the work Bartlett and the other students do.
“I don’t know why the students keep coming back every week – I mean, look at what they have to do; it’s hard work,” Woodley said. “We smell bad, we’re sweaty, we’re dirty, but they just keep coming back and that’s why I love them.”