Have you ever heard President Bush talk about recycling? I haven't -- even though he campaigned for office as an environmentalist. The White House Media Office tells me that every April he issues a proclamation about recycling. But I've never seen it, and they don't have any of last year's copies handy.
"That proclamation is too old," a woman at the White House explained. "We don't keep things that long." I hope they at least recycled it.
Let's start on our yearlong enviro-quest by seeing if we can get the president to take a more active position on recycling.
Our target date is April 15, which has been proposed as National Recycling Day by Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. The bill is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 67 other senators and is being introduced in the House as well. Not a bad show of support.
But where does the president stand on it? The White House says he hasn't seen the bills yet.
Our goal this week is to help call his attention to them. We want to encourage him to make an unequivocal statement that yes, he is in favor of recycling and will do all he can to support it.
David Loveland of the National Recycling Coalition supports the idea.
"We've asked people in all sectors of society to make a commitment to recycling," he says, "and we think it's time to get some national leadership behind this issue. National Recycling Day offers a perfect opportunity for the administration to show concern for the environment as well as the economic potential of recycling."
And Neil Seldman of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance agrees: "Recycling is not only an environmental issue -- it's an economic development issue. It's time for the president to realize that he has to engage his economic policy as well as his environmental policy to allow recycling to provide maximum benefits to the United States. National Recycling Day is a good start."
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a letter or postcard to the president this week, asking him to strongly support the Senate resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 70) and the House resolution (House Joint Resolution 169) when they are passed. In the first sentence, state clearly that you support the resolutions.
His address is: President George Bush, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500. If you want to call instead, the number is (202) 456-1111.
Pass this column around. Your friends may want to send their own cards, and the more mail the better. Let's make our voices heard.
NOTE: Here are a few statistics you can use in case you want to mention a specific issue:
* Recycling saves energy. You can make 20 recycled cans with the same energy it takes to make a single can from new material.
* Recycling fights pollution. Recycling glass cuts related air pollution by 15 percent to 20 percent; making cans from recycled aluminum cuts related pollution by up to 95 percent.
* Americans recycle only about 1 percent of their plastic.
* Americans throw enough aluminum away every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
Have fun, and don't forget to write!