Mini Planet Police

By Angeline Ruston 2019-05-31 17:17:25

Mumma, I see LIT-TER!” Isabella yells.

“Oh no sweetheart! Where?”

“There! A bit of litter! LIT-TER-BUG!”

“Don’t touch!” “DON’T TOUCH!” “Nooooo!” I plead.

With two young Eco Warriors in the making, there is never a dull moment on our walks to school. And when our 3-and-a-half year old Isabella proudly displays a squashed discarded paper cup picked up from the pavement, probably hepatitis contaminated, I wonder how to extend this picking up behaviour to include the toys on her bedroom floor. I try to hide my grimace; and utter encouraging praise, “Well done love!” Then I sigh, relieved in the knowledge that there is at least A-grade hand-sanitiser at the school gate from the recent bout of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease!

This ‘Environmental Policing’ was ingrained in our eldest, Juliette, at a very young age thanks to our year assignment in the very sanitised and regulated Singapore. The idea that littering, chewing gum and of course smoking in public, could result in being sent to jail, was very exciting for our budding bossy-boots. A quick stick of spearmint gum to refresh my breath after a bowl of delicious garlic infused Sichuan noodles, now comes with the risk of my daughter threatening to call the police. And Juliette cannot walk by a parked up driver passing time puffing outside the school gate without pointing her finger and tutting. Heaven help him should he flick his cigarette butt on the ground …


I just nod and politely smile, hoping that English proficiency was not on his resume.

Seaside holidays now include a morning beach brigade to patrol for unsightly trash. Vacations to the beautiful, although sometimes polluted beaches, in South East Asia provided a great opportunity for us to raise environmentally conscious children.

Our family has also embraced the latest in worldwide trends and has replaced our much loved plastic straw with paper ones. Straws, the wonderfully spill minimising, ‘oopsie-daisy’ preventing things were a must in our home, but we needed to of course, save the turtles. We have invested in a colourful, bio-degradable array… Pinks and purples, polka dots and stars for Isabella. Blues and silvers, stripes or hearts for Juliette. And we do not dare mix them up!

Furthermore, we decided to incorporate some very visual, easy for children to comprehend, clever parenting slogans into our daily lives…

“We don’t want the trees to cry… do we?”

As a young, potty training Isabella unravels the toilet roll for an independent wipe.

“Oh no! I hope there will be enough water in the sea on our next holiday...”

When she flushes her imaginary wee-wee for the 3rd time, or leaves the basin taps on while fetching her picnic teapot.

And since recycling seems to be generally nonexistent in our Pudong suburb, we have added,

“Let’s UP-CYCLE the cardboard loo rolls! Yay! Binoculars …” to our ECO repertoire.

But luckily the school has a few recycling initiatives to help rid our household of the ever growing, and ever excessive, kuadi packaging! Our kitchen cupboards and dustbins are often raided to ensure that a happy child can participate and deposit a plastic something into the classroom basket.

What we weren’t quite prepared for on our family’s greening journey, was for our meat eating, carb avoiding, 5 year old’s awakening to where her food came from. Young Juliette began to realise that the characters in her story books, the life versions of her fluffy bed creatures, and the future prize pets of many a negotiated argument, were in fact, also our food. And so the questions came…

“Are we eating the fishies fingers…?”

“How do chickens fly without their wings?”

“Are lamb chops from baby sheep?”

Our once brag worthy, unfussy, try everything child was now a culinary challenged nightmare… What was she going to eat? A child cannot be fully sustained on cereal, carrot and cucumber sticks alone. Supper time now had new challenges.

We tried chickpeas and tofu, and soya bolognaise. I researched and Baidued, racked my brain, and telephoned my mum… but could not find a suitable vegan replacement for lamb chops, her once all time favourite food.

As the thought of an eternity of margarita pizza dinners seemed inevitable, I turned to Juliette to ask what she would like for supper…

“Sausages of course!” She gleams triumphantly. “They are from the sausage tree…”

Dumbfounded, I gratefully smiled to myself at the miracle of seeing the world through the eyes of a child...