Recycling gets a mascotPaul Drotos calls Rubin “a combination of a pulpit and a Muppet.”
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Paul Drotos calls Rubin “a combination of a pulpit and a Muppet.”
He hopes that in the eyes of kids, the new mascot for the city’s recycling program will be a visible reminder of the importance of putting their pop cans and water bottles in recycling containers instead of in the trash.
Rubin the Blue Bin is scheduled to make his debut in the River City Days parade, which starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.
He’ll be easy to spot, a bright blue character with a big blue bin for a head.
Not to mention the corps of volunteers who will accompany him, carrying bins and collecting recyclable items along the way.
And the people handing out stickers with Rubin’s image, pencils made of recycled denim, and rulers made of recycled phone books.
The inspiration for Rubin was Blue Box Betty, a Canadian character featured in a teleconference watched by Drotos, Red Wing’s environmental officer. Betty’s job was to increase awareness of recycling.
“About the most eco-friendly thing citizens can do is recycle,” Drotos said.
Environmental science intern Kelsey Voth’s research showed that the best way to get people to recycle is to remind them. She wrote a grant request to the local Duff Foundation.
The city received money for the costume, Voth said. It is being handmade by Mayd Well Costumes in Toronto, Canada, the company that came up with the original Betty. Rubin will be a little different, though, and he’ll have a red wing on his back.
The $5,000 foundation grant is funding more than the costume, Voth added. The program also has an important education component. Starting in the fall, Rubin will take his message to schools.
“Our main outreach is the children,” Drotos said. “They make the most impact on the future.”
“He’s a super fun hero for kids and adults in Red Wing who care about the environment,” he added.
But Rubin is not just for fun. “He’s on a mission” to help kids realize that they, too, can be environmental heroes by recycling.
“Recycling is something everybody can do, but only about one-third of people are doing,” Drotos said. “Recycling saves up to 95 percent of energy and materials, so it really makes a difference.”
On Sunday, Rubin will be played by Ben Chowen of Red Wing, who has appeared as the University of Minnesota-Duluth bulldog and the University of Manitoba bison.
For the school visits, a variety of local people will don the costume, Drotos said — himself included.