Re­cy­cling Queen

Har­bour Grace child stars in TV spot


Young Sarah Yet­man of Har­bour Grace may not wear a crown, but in her neck-of-the-woods she’s with­out a doubt the Re­cy­cling Queen. Now, she’s even star of her very own TV spot.

The jour­ney started for the sixyear-old in Au­gust of last year, when The Com­pass broke the story of her mis­sion to com­bat lit­ter­ing in her town.

While strolling on a favourite walk­ing trail, Sarah and her fa­ther saw some­thing that made her blood boil: an un­sightly pile of garbage.

“I was re­ally dis­gusted, and very mad and an­gry,” she said at the time.

So she and her par­ents, Tammy and Wal­wyn, lugged all the refuse out to the main road, where it was later picked up and car­ried to the dump.

The story was sub­se­quently picked up by The Tele­gram in St. John’s and other me­dia, and broad­cast near and far, for all and sundry to hear about this so­cially-con­scious child.

Dur­ing Waste Re­duc­tion Week, Oct. 17-23, 2010, the Multi-Ma­te­ri­als Stew­ard­ship Board, an agency of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, launched a cam­paign to pro­file waste re­duc­tion heroes. The pro­gram places in the spot­light de­serv­ing in­di­vid­u­als “ who are truly lead­ing the way when it comes to re­duc­ing waste in the prov­ince,” its web­site states. A dif­fer­ent hero is pro­filed ev­ery month.

Char­lene John­son, then min­is­ter of en­vi­ron­ment and con­ser­va­tion, ex­plained the cam­paign pro­vides “the op­por­tu­nity to of­fi­cially thank and rec­og­nize these in­di­vid­u­als for their out­stand­ing ef­forts.” Sarah Yet­man, who is in Grade 1 at Har­bour Grace Pri­mary, was Oc­to­ber’s waste reduct ion


Ear­lier this year, the MMSB took its waste di­ver­sion and re­cy­cling pro­gram a lit­tle far­ther by pro­duc­ing a TV spot fea­tur­ing Sarah. It was first aired on Jan. 13 dur­ing the NTV news.

“My greener fu­ture,” she says as the ad starts to roll, “is not to lit­ter.” She then fol­lows with: “I think it’s im­por­tant to re­cy­cle” — she stum­bles over this word in a cute, child­like way — “ be­cause it’ll keep the en­vi­ron­ment clean.”

Sarah’s par­ents both ap­pear in the ad. “ We’re learn­ing from Sarah to re­cy­cle,” Tammy ad­mits, “and so is Nanny,” Ge­orgina Vaters, Tammy’s mother.

Ac­tu­ally, Sarah asked her Nanny why she was throw­ing pop bot­tles in the garbage. “Can I take them and have them re­cy­cled?”

With that, Sarah gained a fel­low re­cy­cler.

Sarah talks mat­ter-of-factly about her ex­pe­ri­ence of ap­pear­ing in a TV ad.

The folks at M5, MMSB’s ad­ver­tis­ing agency of record, made the trip to Har­bour Grace “ be­cause I was clean­ing up the en­vi­ron­ment,” she says.

How did it make her feel? “It made me so ex­cited that my par­ents and me were go­ing to be on TV,” she an­swers. “ That night, my legs were ac­tu­ally kick­ing the ch­ester­field.” Back at school, her class­mates re­garded her as a bona fide me­dia star. “I had to give my class­mates my au­to­graph be­cause they thought I was so fa­mous,” she says.

But for Sarah, it’s all part of her per

sonal mis­sion.

“I would like them not to throw out their garbage,” she says. “Even though you think it’s a garbage dump, it isn’t. It’s where rab­bits and all the an­i­mals go.”

As for her fu­ture plans, she thinks she would en­joy be­ing a san­i­tary en­gi­neer … er, garbage col­lec­tor. How­ever, her im­me­di­ate hope is to con­tinue do­ing her part to help clean up the en­vi­ron­ment. And to en­cour­age oth­ers to fol­low her ex­am­ple, she says.

Mean­while, she’s pa­tiently wait­ing for the weather to get warmer, so she can go back out and tend her very own veg­etable gar­den.

The MMSB has plans of soon adding the TV spot to their re­vamped web­site per­ma­nently. “ We will be adding it into the ro­ta­tion for a win­ter/spring tele­vi­sion cam­paign to run on NTV and CBC in the prov­ince,” says Carol Ann Carter, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion.

Har­bour Grace mayor Don Coombs, in his ap­pear­ance on the TV spot, says, “ With­out peo­ple like (Sarah) com­ing up through, it won’t be the same as we see it to­day. She’s do­ing a great job. A great lit­tle leader.”

The MMSB en­cour­ages the pub­lic to nom­i­nate other peo­ple who are “go­ing above and be­yond to cre­ate a greener fu­ture.”

• Age — 6 • Home­town — Har­bour Grace • Par­ents — Tammy and Wal­wyn Yet­man • School — Grade 1 at Har­bour Grace Pri­mary • Hob­bies/in­ter­ests — clean­ing up bed­room, help­ing Mommy, draw­ing, paint-by-num­ber, coin col­lect­ing The look on Sarah Yet­man’s face says it all: dis­gust when­ever and wher­ever she sees garbage.

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