Route 1 area organizations engage in environmental stewardship

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While many businesses in the Richmond Highway area have traditional recycling programs, a handful of organizations have taken them to the next level or are pursuing unique initiatives designed to restore or improve the environment. Following are a few examples of green activity along or near Route 1.

Arcadia’s Harnessing of Renewable Energy: As part of the turnkey farm kit that the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture acquired to support its Veteran Farm Incubator, Arcadia’s staff installed solar panels to power the farm’s well, greenhouse and farm tools. Additionally, Arcadia — which grows and provides sustainably grown food to underserved communities — does its own composting, which helps enrich soil and reduce methane emissions from landfills.

Inova Healthplex – Lorton’s Reuse & Recycle Program: The full-service healthcare facility — affiliated with Inova Mount Vernon Hospital — got rid of all plastics and Styrofoam, replacing them with biodegradable cups and flatware. In the breakroom, staff use traditional dishware, flatware and mugs. The facility also has an incentive-based recycling program; for each recyclable item that cleaning staff find and recycle, the organization donates five cents toward a fund that’s used for an end-of-year party. Finally, the volunteer team that cleaned up trash along the Healthplex’s adopted section of Lorton Road this past spring took the additional step of recycling roadside trash as they went along.

River Bend Bistro’s Food Recycling & Anti-Plastic Initiative: Owner and chef Caroline Ross keeps a variety of dumpsters behind the bistro and wine bar, including an eight-yard traditional recycling dumpster; a container for oyster shells that are collected by the Oyster Recovery Partnership and returned to the Chesapeake Bay; and a vat for collecting used fryer oil, which is picked up and processed by Valley Proteins for use in animal feed. The restaurant — which serves locally sourced and fresh foods like grits from George Washington’s Gristmill — recently switched from plastic to paper straws, and only uses paper or other recyclable materials for takeout orders.

Missile Defense Agency’s Sustainable Technology Practices & Paper Waste Reduction: Located at Fort Belvoir, the Missile Defense Agency was one of two federal facilities in Virginia recognized in June 2018 by the Environmental Protection Agency for reducing the federal government’s environmental impact. The agency was named a 2018 Regional Award Winner for the Mid-Atlantic in the category of “Electronics and Green Purchasing” as part of the Federal Green Challenge Awards. A description of how the agency maintains its environmental stewardship can be found on its website.

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  1. Martin Tillett