The Environmentalist

At some point during our oldest’s Kindergarten experience, he learned about the planet Mars. I don’t know what exactly he learned about Mars, but what he took away was this: Mars used to be like Earth but then people littered and that caused Mars to become uninhabitable.

My knowledge of all things planetary is so appalling, I can’t even set him straight. I mean, I assume he’s incorrect, because his reasoning sounds somewhat implausible. Isn’t Mars way too hot or something? Or did the planet become hot because people littered? Or none of the above?

And then the boy advanced to grade one and, within the first week, they started talking about littering. I guess last year’s [occasionally annoying] focus on nutrition has been abandoned in favor of ‘The Environment’. Which is just as well because I’ve run out of interesting ways to answer his oft-asked ‘mom, is pizza hell-fee’ question.

So, we were hanging out in the kitchen a couple of Wednesdays ago when the Gort started asking questions.

‘Why do they put garbage in the dump…..that’s littering?’

I love how he always hits upon the one ‘exception’ to the rule. Yes, throwing garbage outside is generally considered littering unless you’re putting garbage in a landfill in which case it’s..not.

‘Where should they put the garbage, then?’ I asked.

‘In the garbage trucks,’ he replied. So I tried to mutter something coherent about how garbage trucks pick up the garbage and take it to the dump, otherwise they’d have to ride around full of garbage, and would have nowhere to put the next week’s garbage. [I’m pretty sure my Nobel Prize for Science is in the mail.]

He considered my explanation for a second, before concluding ‘the planet is going to explode because there’s too much garbage.’ I didn’t have any sort of response for this one. I guess I could have run to the office and googled ‘will the planet explode because there’s too much garbage,’ but I didn’t.

I don’t think very well under pressure.

Instead I redirected him and asked what can we do to make less garbage? He suggested composting, using less paper towels and not using plastic bags, which I know he learned at school, because they’re constantly sending out ‘reminders’ to parents to strive towards trash-less lunches.

I think he might have also suggested burning trash as a way to make less trash, because the next thing I knew he’d decided to build a house using cereal boxes and set fire to it….just so he could put the fire out. I think ‘littering’ and ‘fire safety’ must have been covered in the same week. But I’m sure the school did not expect the two lessons to be combined in such a manner.

Apparently we’re bored enough chez Johnson to accommodate our children’s strange(st) requests. The professor, to his credit, did make them ‘stop, drop, and roll’ so it would be teachable, rather than purely frivolous, exercise. Also, the Gort learned that one small Nalgene bottle filled with water isn’t enough to kill a fire. Priceless, really.

Just to complicate matters, the Gort learned from his father that one shouldn’t burn plastic because it sends ‘poison into the air’. So now our little alarmist-in-training questions anything that might come into contact with fire. ‘Dad, I think there’s a little bit of plastic in that.’

Maybe that’s what happened to Mars.

9 thoughts on “The Environmentalist

  1. hmmm, the unintended consequences of the gradeschool environmental learnings… arsonists burning all non plastic refuse to keep the streets clean…

  2. Now that we’ve moved and I’m soon to have my sewing machines up and running, I could make you some bag-less re-usable sandwich holders. Want some? They also have plastic sanwich containers at grocery stores, although he may not want his food touching plastic…it might blow up…?

  3. Heather – I’d love some!! (And did you say sewing machines, plural???) The kid makes me laugh, that’s for sure.

    1. Plural, yes. One regular sewing machine and a surger. Both from G-ma. “plural” equals funny to me today because I read a story about a polygamist mormon man in Utah who is “carrying out the plural lifestyle…” even though it’s against the law. (show= the sister wives) HAHA, I Laughed out Loud.

  4. My kids pick up dirty trash from the parking lots of stores and want to put it into the trash – yuck!! I now am telling them that a big sweeper will come and get it later in the hopes that they will stop trying to put every piece of trash into a wastebasket…

    1. Lisa – maybe you could keep a stash of (monogrammed, reusable!) gloves in your purse…for when the trash-pick-up urge hits them 🙂


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