Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE)
Some people walk the walk and some people talk the talk. Elenor Hodges does both. Since 2000, the executive director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) has provided leadership for this all-volunteer organization as well as embraced its mission in her personal life.
ACE was established in 1978 by the Arlington County Department of Public Works as a Clean Community member of Keep America Beautiful. During the 1980s it shifted its focus from picking up litter to recycling. Today, ACE has expanded into watershed resources and schoolyard education programs.
Most volunteer organizations are rooted in personal passions and the same can be said for Hodges. With degrees in Environmental Science and Education from the University of Virginia and George Mason University, her professional career has included various environmental programs and employment at the National Wildlife Federation.
One example in learning how to "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" is to buy items with less packaging. A favorite lunch bag item is individual serving yogurt cups. "We go to about 15 to 20 schools a year and teach kids about recycling. We show them you can buy a bigger container of yogurt and put it in Tupperware containers. We talk about reusing old toys and clothes. Instead of throwing them away, donate them. We also show them you can reuse paper by writing on the flip side," said Hodges. ACE reaches out to approximately 1,500 school kids each year.
On a personal level, Hodges' commitment to the environment was demonstrated early on when she and her husband made the decision to own only one car. And despite the addition of two children, now ages 6 & 11, have stuck by this agreement. "We are a one car family. We've never owned another car. Some things do take a little longer, but we're lucky we live in Arlington." With so many car-free transportation options and a little creative planning, they make it work.
"As a mom I think it's important that we make choices that reflect our values and commitment to the family, community and planet," explains Hodges. "We want to exercise more and think before we jump into the car. " During nice weather, she also bikes to work at least one day a week.
Recently, ACE was selected as "one of the best small charities in the Greater Washington region" in the 2011-2012 Catalogue for Philanthropy.
ACE sponsors a variety of educational green living events and are looking forward to their 3rd annual Green Living Expo on Friday, March 17, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. "It's a great opportunity to talk with over 60 organizations and companies that help people go green," said Hodges. She invites all Car-Free Diet Partners to attend the Expo and learn more about practical ways to green your lifestyle, energy conservation, solid waste reduction, eco-friendly transportation, green home remodeling, sustainable landscaping and healthy homes.