Oct. 25, 2005
By Jayne Gest
He's wearing jeans, a black biker jacket, a silver chain, and he's… a pig? The Energy Hog visited campus on Oct. 5 and 6 for the Unplugged "Energy Day," where local school children learned how to save energy.
Energy Hog is part of a nationwide campaign to increase energy awareness. The costume travels across the United States for many grassroots events, said Maria Ellingson, program manager and campaign director for the Washington D.C. nonprofit group Alliance to Save Energy.
During the event, the Energy Hog was carrying a sign that read, "Don't go to energyhog.org" and with another sign on the back of his jacket that read, "Energy Hogs Rule," this spokesvillian uses reverse psychology to gain the interest of students.
Sir Off-A-Lot and Trash Can Man, however, were both on hand to help, both good guy costumes made at Ohio University three years ago by the Facilities Management department. Sir Off-A-Lot is a knight whose armor is made in the form of a light switch. He wants all students to turn off the electricity a lot. Trash Can Man, who puts the squeeze on waste, made a few appearances as well.
Andy Sinovich of Cinergy Solutions said they will use Sir Off-A-Lot and Trash Can Man later this year to film skits and sketches that promote Ohio University's Recyclemania and Residence Challenge for CATVision, the residence hall cable TV network.
Three student actors wore the costumes. They heard about the job while at the weekly meeting in the theater department.
"It's all about conservation," said Julian Garcia, a junior creative writing major who was formerly a theater major.
"But everyone perked up when we heard it was paid," added John Stiens, a junior theater major. They can use the experience on their resumes as a professional paid position.
Both Garcia and Stiens wore the Energy Hog costume throughout the two days, which got a little hot with the warm weather. They were joined by Nathan Whitmer, a senior theater major, who saved the day as Sir Off-A-Lot.
In a skit written by Environs and performed by all three actors, Sir Off-A-Lot helps Trash Can Man defeat the Energy Hog. Whitmer said they used the skit to lead up to him asking the children questions about recycling and then giving out temporary tattoos.
"The kids responded well," Whitmer said. "They're a good age -- not too young to take it seriously, but young enough to still enjoy the costumes."
Whitmer said that he tried to interact with the students, something that Energy Hog, who never speaks, cannot do as easily.
As a third-grade class passed him on the sidewalk, one of the students pointed to Energy Hog and said, "You're bad!" but another at the end of the line reached over to hug him.
The Energy Hog costume is part of an Ad-Council campaign launched in March 2004. In addition to personal appearances, the Energy Hog has appeared in $53 million of donated public service advertising. Energy Hog promotes the Web site www.energyhog.org, which has 52,000 visits per month. The Web site targets children, who traditionally do not have much interest in energy, Ellingson said.
"It's a great way to a get a foot in the door," she said.
As energy prices are increasing, interest has grown. The next step in the campaign is to have adults actually making changes in their homes after their children have talked to them about Energy Hog, Ellingson said.
Jayne Gest is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.