These days Republicans and Democrats agree on virtually nothing. Whether the subject is the competence of George W. Bush, the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton, the comic appeal of Al Franken or the mental health of Ann Coulter, you can expect spirited and often heated debate.
It is heartening, therefore, to find out that there is one issue on which members of both political parties agree: curbside recycling.
According to a new survey conducted by the Opinion Research Corp. and commissioned by the Aluminum Can Council's Curbside Value Partnership (CVP), 95 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans said that curbside recycling was at least “somewhat important” to them. Only two percent of the respondents from each party replied that curbside recycling is “not at all important.”
In areas with curbside recycling programs, 70 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans stated that they “always” participate. Ninety-one percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans who participate said that their curbside bins are at least half full.
“Who would have thought that both parties could agree on the environment?” said Steve Thompson, program director for CVP, which helps local communities boost participation in and improve their curbside recycling programs, in a statement. “Granted, it's not policy we are talking about, but it's a step in the right direction”
Neil Wolch, vice president of research services for Opinion Research Corp., echoed similar sentiments in his statement. “The disparities in responses were minimal, and an overwhelming majority of feedback gave some indication that both parties are willing and interested in doing their part locally.”
The survey did highlight some differences, though. Both Republicans and Democrats stated that they were most careful about recycling newspapers and aluminum cans. However, Republicans are more careful about recycling plastic than Democrats, and Democrats are more likely to recycle glass.
In his statement, Thompson cautioned that the survey results shouldn't be taken entirely at face value. “We also know that what people say is not always what they practice every day,” he said. “While this survey revealed that most favor local recycling programs, we know that we still need to do a better job educating residents and [reminding] them why they should recycle.”
In one way, the study's results aren't that surprising. Recycling has been around long enough that it has probably lost whatever partisan affiliation that it may have once had. However, the bipartisan enthusiasm displayed in the survey is good news for CVP as it tries to improve curbside programs. In red and blue states, it seems, Americans are willing to act green.
The author is the editor of Waste Age