Enviro(n)mental Solutions (2022)

Walking through Brisbane’s CBD near where Albert Street Station is under construction, I couldn’t help noticing this error on the side of a haulage-and-disposal truck. 

Admittedly, ‘environmental’ is a somewhat tricky word to spell: as with ‘government’, you can be tripped up by the silent ‘n’. But why, then, does a correctly spelled ‘environmental’ appear on the same side of the same truck—just a short distance away from the incorrectly spelled one?  

Could it be that, rather than going to the trouble of inserting an ‘n’, Lantrak tried to draw our attention away from the omission by placing another ‘environmental’, complete with the ‘n’, over to the right?  

I put this question to the Brisbane-Gold Coast division of Lantrak. Someone from their Marketing division advised that he was aware of the error (‘I spotted it when it came back from the printers’), and congratulated me on noticing it, claiming that ‘enviromental’ had been there for two years and yet nobody else had ever pointed it out. He added, ‘I should send you a prize or something.’ Sounded good to me; I pictured a large gift-basket, or maybe some sort of engraved plaque, being delivered to my door.  

‘Don’t they run a spellcheck at the printers?’ I asked. He didn’t know.  

‘What about the truckdrivers themselves? Didn’t any of them notice the mistake?’ 

‘Those guys? They’re basically illiterate.’ 

Lantrak, apparently, uses half a dozen different types of ‘environmental solutions’ stickers on their trucks, but only one of those sticker types contains the error, and ‘only four or five’ trucks have that particular sticker on them. The printers, to their credit, offered to make a special ‘correction’ to paste over the misspelling—an enviromental solution, of sorts. But as the Lantrak representative explained, it didn’t make a lot of financial sense to take the trucks off the road for such non-haulage-and-disposal-related reasons.   

‘And anyway,’ he said, ‘soon we’ll be updating all our stickers—it’ll be a whole new look.’  

This sounded curiously similar to the health clinic’s response when I pointed out the error on their sign (see ‘Remedial Spelling’). And, given that several Lantrak trucks have been driving around for the last two years with that clanger on display, doesn’t it seem a bit coincidental that Lantrak has suddenly decided to revamp all their stickers? Is this simply what every company says when they want to deflect spelling pedants? We will see soon enough. And if the error remains uncorrected, at least I’ll have the consolation of my gift-basket and/or engraved plaque.

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