Mount Airy’s curbside recycling program already had a face, and thanks to some help from local students, it now has a name to go along: “Recycling Ben.”
Since the program got under way in January 2012, city officials and members of a specially appointed recycling committee have tried to spread word about the service and increase public participation in it, involving some creative efforts.
Initially, this included the development of a logo and a slogan though a contest held among art students of city schools and Millennium Charter Academy.
The winning image showed a planet with eyes, legs and arms highlighted in green, accompanied by the message that Mount Airy doesn’t take recycling “for granite” — a tie-in to the city’s quarrying heritage.
Still, something was missing: a name for the character that was being represented.
Again, the aid of local students was enlisted, and their participation led to the selection of the name Recycling Ben, a play on words referring to the bins in which recyclables are placed.
“I can now look at that little fellow and know his name is Ben,” Commissioner Shirley Brinkley said during a city council meeting last week when the revised image with that moniker was revealed.
The name was chosen with the help of three groups of students: Beth Martin’s kindergarten class at Tharrington Elementary School, Marie Niland’s first-grade class at Tharrington and grade 4 students of Nancy Ayers at J.J. Jones Intermediate School.
Class entries were submitted to the Mount Airy Recycling Advisory Committee for judging.
“It was ironic that everyone on the committee voted for the same name,” Cindy Wilson of that group said when it was unveiled at last week’s meeting.
Since everyone seemed to be on board with this choice, it was thought that naming the character Recycling Ben must be a good idea, Wilson said.
It now will become part of the promotional campaign for curbside recycling in Mount Airy, including eventually appearing on bumper stickers.
“One of our goals is to educate the young children in town in the hopes they will educate their families,” Wilson said of encouraging the ecologically friendly practice.
“We believe in positive peer pressure,” said Lee Daniels, another committee member.
Representatives of the three local classes involved with the naming process received certificates of recognition for their roles during last week’s council meeting.
They previously had been treated to a pizza party with water — and yes, the pizza boxes and water bottles were recycled afterward.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.