Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Clean Sweep gets fresh face

ERC aims to involve youth, ‘singles on the scene’

Express Staff Writer

Volunteers have spring-cleaned the valley via the Environmental Resource Center's annual Clean Sweep for 11 years. This year, the Ketchum-based center says it's looking to revamp an old favorite, set for Saturday, May 14.

"It's been kind of the same thing for the past couple of years, which is why we wanted to shake it up," said the center's interim director, Lisa Huttinger. "We wanted to give it a fresh face."

High school students have started recent eco-friendly efforts, such as the proposed plastic bag ban in Hailey and new reusable takeout containers for Perry's restaurant in Ketchum.

Huttinger said this trend led center intern Hadley DeBree to coordinate youth groups in the area, securing members of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls on the Run, local Key and environmental clubs, Silver Creek High School and others to break out the trash bags and clean up the valley.

"There are so many kids doing so many good things," Huttinger said. "It's obvious how much energy there is with young people in the valley."

The Bellevue Cub Council, a community service group from Bellevue Elementary, has also signed on to clear trash from the bike path in Bellevue. Nearly 100 students will give the sweep a kick-start on Friday, May 13, clearing what Huttinger called a "huge swath" of bike path.

Huttinger said she hoped the council, as well as the other youth groups, would help motivate other participants.

"They'll set a high bar," she said.

The center is also trying to tap into the "single set" by partnering with the Ketchum Wide Open participants, some of whom will offer discounts and drink coupons during the wide open for Clean Sweep participants.

Huttinger said she hopes the partnership would help the event attract a demographic it hasn't before.

"We get a lot of families out for the Clean Sweep, and we get a lot of youth, but we'd love to see more 20-, 30-, 40-somethings out, the single folks out on the scene," she said.

This year's Clean Sweep follows the same format as in years past, in which participants arrive early Saturday morning at local parks and are assigned a specific location to clean up.

While there are always raffle prizes and prizes for amount of trash collected, this year's event has new prizes for team competitions, including one for team spirit—the criteria for which Huttinger declined to elaborate on.

"After seeing what closing day looks like on the mountain, I'll leave that up to people's interpretations," she said.

The event begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 14. Ketchum and Sun Valley participants can sign up at Atkinson Park, Hailey volunteers at Hop Porter Park and Bellevue sweepers can check in at Memorial Park. The center provides trash bags, rubber gloves, breakfast and lunch.

Katherine Wutz:

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