Well, are you ready to get started...


Well, are you ready to get started on a yearlong environmental project?

You sent thousands of cards and letters, and you picked one subject for us to work on -- although it certainly wasn't unanimous. You voted for alternative energy, for convincing Congress to take ozone depletion more seriously, for regulating junk mail. One person even voted for saving resources by forcing cereal companies to make their boxes smaller.

A lot of you expressed a sense that there's so much to tackle, it's hard to know where to start. As one Maryland couple put it: "The number of worthwhile environmental issues is overwhelming. We welcome the chance to concentrate on just one issue with a group of people."

And a number of readers expressed excitement that we really might be able to achieve something.

"This sounds like an exciting adventure/possibility!" an Illinois couple wrote. They named several suggestions, then concluded, Any issue! There are so many! We'll be watching for the outcome and will support any of them!"

The vote

So what did you pick? By a landslide, the choice was recycling. A number of cards had just two words -- "mandatory recycling" -- written on them. But other people explained their ideas. Here's a representative sample of what readers said:

"I believe that getting Congress to recycle everything is the best way to influence them. Just look at the effect recycling has on most people -- it increases awareness. I can think of no better way to increase Congress' awareness than to get both houses to recycle!" -- Cathy M., Baltimore.

"I cast my vote for recycling. Let's band together to persuade Congress and the White House to recycle -- let them send a positive message back to our nation and set an example for others to follow. They should begin by implementing a recycling policy for office paper; Congress should extend its efforts by proposing more and better legislation in support of recycling and perhaps create incentives for businesses who recycle or precycle." -- Joyce H., Gastonia, N.C.

"As my local recycling center has pointed out, if you're not using recycled products, you're not really recycling! Now is the time to make sure there is an ever-increasing demand, as well as availability, of good-quality recycled products. Tax credits or some other preferential treatment might be a good motivator to businesses and individuals." -- Jill N., Westmont, Ill.

"The most important issue of the decade is preventing the loss of species. But for a project we can all do together, how about getting the federal government to have a mandatory recycling program?" -- Karen N., Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Now what? Well, next week I'll lay out some specific goals, and then we'll try to make them happen. This is really going to be

interesting. I'm looking forward to it.

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