Cleaning Up the Wedge

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A group of ZeroTrash volunteers in Newport recently. — Photos courtesy Chip McDermott/ZeroTrash, Inc.

Volunteers will be cleaning up the Wedge this weekend, picking up trash and encouraging others to get into the garbage gathering mood.

“The Wedge is, or my interpretation of it is, a spiritual place for some people and a destination for others,” said Jeff Dole, a Balboa Peninsula Point Association board member. “When people come down here and see trash, it really takes away from the experience.”

More volunteers are needed for the Wedge Beautification Project on Saturday, Dole said. The event is being organized by the association, assisted by ZeroTrash Inc., a Laguna Beach-based nonprofit organization dedication to cleaning up the trash in communities. The event is a special project within ZeroTrash’s First Saturday program.

The First Saturday program brings out volunteers to certain locations throughout Orange County the first Saturday of every month to clean up the streets in the community. Although this is the first event focused on the Wedge, ZeroTrash volunteers have been cleaning up on the Peninsula the first Saturday of every month for about a year and a half, said ZeroTrash founder Chip McDermott. They also have a chapter in Corona del Mar.

“The Balboa Peninsula Point Association contacted me to see if ZeroTrash could help out,” McDermott said. The association made a donation to the non-profit group and ZeroTrash will be providing all the supplies.

Anyone interested is encouraged to come down to the Wedge on Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon.

ZeroTrash kids’ shirts will be provided on a first-come first-served basis. XS Energy Drinks will also be handed out.

Volunteers in front of the First Saturday headquarters at El Ranchito.

The El Ranchito restaurants on the Peninsula and in CdM will continue their participation with the ZeroTrash First Saturday Program by giving free breakfast burritos to volunteers. The Peninsula restaurant is taking it a step further for the special Wedge Beautification Project offering free kids’ meals to any volunteers that spend the day cleaning up the Wedge.

“We really try and promote local businesses,” McDermott said.

Approximately 100 to 150 people are expected to show up and gather garbage, McDermott said..

“I want to try and get as many people down here as possible,” Dole said.

Dole said he is planning on sending a crew all the way out on the rock jetty, where a lot of fishermen go, to clean it up.

A lot of the trash is what’s been washed away from both the Newport and Balboa piers, Dole said.

“Something goes into the water at the pier, it gets blown all the way down to the Wedge,” he said. “It’s kind of like a catch-all.”

Plastic bags are the biggest single type of trash they find, Dole said.

Part of the idea behind the project is that it will encourage others to pick up trash they see and be mindful of their own garbage.

“If people see others picking up trash, then maybe they’d want to do it as well,” Dole said.

Volunteers show off their trash tongs during a recent clean-up day of Newport Beach.

McDermott encouraged residents to invest themselves into their community.

“I think it’s important for [citizens] to be aware how their community is presented,” McDermott said. Everyone should work together and participate in making the community better, he added.

Anyone wanting to volunteer or bring ZeroTrash First Saturday program to their community is asked to email McDermott at [email protected] Visit www.zerotrash.com for more information about the organization.

Although this is the first Wedge Beautification Project event, Dole said he hopes to make it a regular one and would love to get service groups involved as well as getting more students to help out for their community-service hours.

“It’s a great opportunity to clean up our community,” Dole said. “To really make a difference.”

— See photos of the event here.

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