Sunday, June 16, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on February 24th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 51

The Environmentalist


I  am a true American. And as a legitimate patriot, I come complete with a gas guzzling SUV, a beer gut, and a belief that consumerism will solve all of the economy’s problems.

Did you say people need more jobs? Well, I better do my part and head down to the nearest big-box store and buy more stuff I don’t need (but desperately want). All will be good with the world, and my garage will be packed with useless junk just so American jobs can be saved. If you need me, I will be in the garage hanging upside down from my feet while in my brand new “Back Stretcher 1000” from Costco (yes, some assembly was required).

As much of a red, white, and blue consumer as I am, my son doesn’t share my belief in the religion of shopping. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere along the line, my own son, my own flesh and blood, decided that I was personally to blame for all pollution, climate change, and the death of the manatees off of the coast of Florida. All because I purchased a stack of disposable red Solo cups and put them next to the sink to drink some water.

According to my son, who has taken exactly half of a semester of environmental science in high school, I am wasting Earth’s precious resources and filling up landfills with my evil red Solo cups. I, of course, strongly disagree. “Son, the grocery store is full of red Solo cups. They were already made. I merely purchased them from the store, drove them home, and put them on the counter—to drink tap water, as opposed to bottled water. And if I don’t use a disposable cup to drink my water, then I would use a glass, which needs to be washed, WITH MORE WATER, during the middle of a statewide drought. In reality, by purchasing red Solo cups, I’m saving the planet.”

My son and, apparently, his environmental science teacher, totally disagree with me. “Dad, because you bought the red Solo cups, now they will make more red Solo cups, and it’s your fault they keep making these cups because you keep buying them. These cups are plastic, using fossil fuels to create, and they fill up landfills.”

In my son’s mind, I am a dinosaur, a person from the previous century who has polluted and destroyed the Earth and left it to his generation completely trampled on. Because he thinks so little of my mindfulness about the planet he has decided he is going to save the Earth by riding me personally for using plastic bags at the store and for leaving my cell phone charger plugged into the wall. Without warning, my son has taken it upon himself to become the self-appointed official household environmental police. If I mistakenly throw something into the trash can that should have been thrown into the recycling can, Captain Conscious jumps in to save the day. “Put down that bottle, you Earth destroying heathen!”

Every time my son sees that I have left my cell phone charger plugged into the wall, he looks over at me with complete disappointment and disgust. As if my offense of leaving my cell phone charger plugged in was the same as clubbing a baby seal. My son, the armchair environmentalist, tells me “You’re wasting electricity, Dad.” I explain to him, “I’m not wasting it, I am purchasing it. The power company charges me for any electricity I use, and I pay for it, which means I can use it however I want. I’m a consumer.”

“Because you use the electricity, and waste it, then the power company has to keep making more power, polluting more of the Earth. It’s your fault the Earth is polluted.”

“Really, it is my fault? It’s not your fault? You, the one who drinks bottled water? You, the one who goes to Starbucks every day and throws a disposable cup away? You, who has an iPad, iPhone, and Macbook, all made in China with reduced environmental restrictions, plugged in at the same time charging away so you can post a photo of your Starbucks cup on Instagram telling the world, ‘Cup of coffee, yum!’”

My son doesn’t see things that way. Being young, using Apple products, and drinking Starbucks instantly puts him into a club I don’t belong to: The Environmentalist Club. I think of it as the ill-informed, self-delusional “I’m a better person than you” club. Regardless of what I call it, most people just refer to this group as liberals.

It doesn’t matter how many discussions my son and I have about these issues, he is continuing on with his fight to save the planet by riding his old man. Every day I find something new around the house indicating we are more and more green. Yesterday it was a box labeled “used battery recycling.” Last week it was a bin filled with water bottles to be recycled. I keep finding Post-it notes with sarcastic environmental slogans on them, like the one stuck to my cell phone charger, “Please unplug when not in use. The planet thanks you.” I blame this whole thing on his mom, “Tell your son, to stop wasting paper by leaving me these stupid little notes. The whole thing is a little hypocritical. How many trees have to die so he can give me attitude about the environment?”

My wife, whom I love, sees the situation very differently, “He’s going through a phase. The same phase you went through. When I met you in college, you were the biggest wannabe environmentalist I had ever met. You ran around the dorms telling everybody to unplug their mini-fridges during Christmas break to save power. And you were a complete hypocrite as well. If I remember right, you didn’t bother to unplug your own fridge because you had a two liter of Pepsi you wanted to keep cold for when you came back to school.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Of course you don’t, Honey. But I remember, and that’s what matters.”

“Well, you better remember to start disposing light bulbs properly to avoid spreading mercury because your son, Captain Conscious, and the planet are watching.”


Rob now walks to the store carrying his reusable bags. If you enjoy Rob’s stories check out his novel “Cadet Blues” available on

Weekly Poll
Should the proposed aquifer exemption in Cat Canyon be approved?

Yes—the water from the proposed area can't serve as drinking water.
No—oil containments could still pollute usable groundwater.
Additional oil and gas projects can create more jobs.
We need to move away from oil and gas and look at renewable energy projects.

| Poll Results