Va. Guard works to improve sustainability efforts

Representatives from Virginia National Guard units, sections and facilities from across the commonwealth met Dec. 4 at Fort Pickett for a Sustainability Workshop to focus on the recycling efforts of the Virginia Guard and to outline the way ahead toward making the organization a more sustainment-minded force. Workshop participants worked through a series of questions together, identifying the current recycling efforts of the Virginia Guard, outlining additional recycling measures that could be implemented and generating a mission statement for the state’s sustainability efforts. Future meetings will look to work toward implementing suggested recycling efforts. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Representatives from various Virginia National Guard units, sections and facilities from across the commonwealth gathered Dec. 4 at Fort Pickett for the Virginia Guard’s first Internal Sustainability Workshop. The workshop aimed to introduce participants to the various directives and goals associated with sustainability and to focus on the recycling efforts of the Virginia National Guard.

“The recycling program is our first step toward formalizing our agency efforts in support of the overall long-range sustainability program goals and objectives,” explained Col. Marie M. Mahoney, recycling team leader and deputy director for the Virginia Guard’s United States Property and Fiscal Office. “Building a successful agency wide recycling program will serve as the initial building block toward institutionalizing sustainability in the Virginia National Guard. It will serve as our ‘proof of concept’ to demonstrate our commitment to setting and achieving future goals in other areas such as sustainable operations, procurements and building projects.”

According to the presentation given to workshop participants, improving and increasing the Virginia Guard’s sustainability efforts comes with many benefits, including optimized energy use, reduced operation costs, reduction of waste, and the preservation of training sites. The group also learned the meaning of sustainability for the Virginia National Guard, which includes preserving Guard readiness, meeting the requirements of federal and state law, executive orders and Army policies, and instilling a “sustainability ethic and culture” throughout the Virginia Guard.

Following an introduction to the meaning of sustainability, workshop participants addressed a series of questions together. The first question asked what the current recycling efforts of the Virginia National Guard are and Fort Pickett’s extensive recycling program, which recycles industrial metals, aluminum, paper, cardboard and various hazardous materials, was highlighted as one of the Virginia Guard’s successful sustainment endeavors. Participants also looked at what the Virginia Guard could do more of internally to improve recycling efforts, what potential roadblocks exist in achieving sustainability goals, and what future recycling goals the Virginia Guard should focus on. The group also discussed the way ahead and what the mission and vision statement of the sustainability program should be.

“Establishing a sustainability culture is pretty key to what we’re trying to do here,” Mahoney said.

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