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Thinking green for Earth Day

Local Commentary

Posted: April 18, 2008 5:35 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
My 4-year-old son is very excited about Earth Day on Tuesday. Yup, Earth Day, the annual celebration of our planet during which Americans promote awareness and appreciation for the environment. My wife and I told our boy about Earth Day, and he seems more excited about cleaning up beaches and recycling than he's been about opening presents on Christmas morning or trick-or-treating on Halloween night.

Already, my son knows where to put used paper, plastic and aluminum.

He's better at recycling than Mom or Dad, and he's even busted us a few of times for putting recyclables in the trash.

I was fine with all that, but I got a little annoyed when he demanded that I walk to work instead of driving because, thanks to Mom and Dad saying so, the exhaust fumes from our cars pollute the air. Walking 30 miles to work is not fun at all, and I've got the blisters on my feet to prove it.

My wife and I are the proud parents of a neat freak. But ever since telling our son about Earth Day, he hasn't left any flat surface clean of green peace bumper stickers. His dresser of drawers, wagon and bike are covered with words like "Ignore the environment, it will go away" and "Vote Green Party." I'm afraid to tell the kid that he won't be able to vote for another 14 years.

At 4, he's maturing quickly. He already knows that he wants to attend Berkeley because, as he said, he shares the environmentally friendly views unique to the students of that university. To prepare for his enrollment, he asked Mom and Dad to trade in his Spider-Man light-up shoes for Birkenstock sandals - just like the sandals that the students at Berkeley wear.

It gets worse. My son is no longer eating fruit snacks and pudding, but rather granola bars. And we have to shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. That's not so bad, but I have somewhat of a sweet tooth, and I can't even feed it anymore without him busting me, telling me I shouldn't eat so much junk food because it's not healthy.

No more soda or unhealthy sugar-packed juices. Now all my family gets is green tea and other all-natural beverages that taste more like the bushes I ate as a kid when, on my bike one time, I crashed face-first down on an ivy-covered embankment.

Do you know what my son told me he wanted for his birthday in July? He said he wanted a party in the Angeles National Forest where he and his friends from school could clean up the trails.

"It's the responsible thing to do," my son said.

What kind of monster did my wife and I create? There's no doubt that his friends will pick up rakes and shovels, but I think they'll use them as Star Wars light sabers to strike my son down if he asks them to clean up a trail.

Yesterday, while at the toy store looking for incense that my son could burn in his room to release fragrant smoke to make his living quarters "smell better," we came across a toy earthmover. You know, a miniature version of those heavy-duty construction vehicles that move massive amounts of earth when leveling land.

"Wow, what's that?" my son asked me.

"It's an earthmover," I said. I explained the vehicle's purpose, and how it basically destroys nature and pushes poor helpless animals out of their homes to make room for shopping malls and other developments that we don't really need. I made the $60 toy sound like Satan so that my boy wouldn't ask for it.

"Wow, can I get it?" my son asked.

"But what about Earth Day, and saving the environment and everything you've been talking about lately?"
"I bet that thing gets good gas mileage," he said, "especially on all that flat land in the rain forest."

Michael Picarella is a Valencia resident and a proud husband and father. His column reflects his own opinion, not necessarily that of The Signal. Picarella can be e-mailed at
To read more of his stories, go to


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