British Columbia's Liberal provincial government (not renowned for its environmental record) recently sent out a tabloid-sized, four-page flyer to B.C. residents. We received ours today. The title is "What Choices Would You Make for a Greener Future?: Budget 2008 Consultation Paper" (here's the PDF).
In essence, it asks us where we think the government should spend money to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage alternative power sources and transportation options, pay for healthcare costs, and provide adequate housing for our fellow citizens.
There is an online version of the questionnaire, which is handy. Overall, it's an interesting and encouraging idea. But before even reading the flyer, I flipped it over and read the fine print:
Normally I would think it wise—indeed expected—for governments to use paper with a reasonable proportion of recycled pulp in it, and 40% isn't bad. But for a flyer talking about a "greener future," using 100% post-consumer recycled paper is the only reasonable choice. I wouldn't care if it was brown or grey rather than stark white.
As it is, the 40% recycled content (or rather, the 60% non-recycled content) makes the whole publication and the process behind it look like lip service to environmental causes. Gillian also notes that there's a whole stack of the flyers in her building's recycling bin next to the mailboxes—a stack that certainly never got read.
While I'm filling out the online questionnaire, I will be wondering where my opinions will be registered, and whether they'll end up 60% watered down as well. It's too bad I ended up thinking so cynically.