You never thought the day would arrive so soon, but here you are. Just a few short years since the mere fact of having a Snapchat account made you the go-to person for fixing the TV or sorting the wifi, you’ve become the fully fledged parent of your own parents. And they are a handful.
While your parents may try to seem superior by asking: “Is that hair … on purpose?” or saying: “Good afterNOON!” no matter what time you get up, when it comes to sustainability and, you know, keeping the planet intact for the rest of your life, parents are hopeless.
There won’t even be time to grieve for our world if your dad keeps putting the wine bottles in the main bin and giving the driveway a weekly power wash.
If you’ve found yourself needing to step in to keep the folks in check (and the planet alive), you’ll surely have experienced at least four of the following 10 emotional milestones.
Riding the dizzy high that comes from carefully arranging and labelling recycling boxes, only to be slapped down to earth by a window left open above a switched-on radiator, draining away your hopes and dreams of a future, along with the escaping heat. Sigh.
The sense of absolute disapproval when you wait at home to accept your family’s online supermarket delivery, only to discover that it comprises 43 items encased in single-use plastic.
But, oh, the guilt-stricken conflict of being invited on a family holiday to a far flung location. The parental unit has even offered to pay for your carbon-heavy, long-haul, irresponsible, planet-killing and ice-melting flight to somewhere irresistible. Surely the family should be booking sustainable staycations, FFS? But then again … you didn’t fly at all in 2020 … so maybe you could justify it when the Covid threat eases … if they offset the carbon … But is the holiday even worth it for a lifetime of guilt-tripping about how you’ve disappointed Greta Thunberg? Oh look, the in-flight entertainment includes Love Actually, how marvellous – see you in 12 hours.
Recycling shame, perhaps the worst emotion of all, as you try to ignore the bulging bag of the family’s single-use plastics waiting to be collected alongside the neighbours’ minuscule mason jar of waste. At least Helen next door cares about your life expectancy.
5 Fake joy
Completely faking delight when presented with the beige dinner you’re going to have to eat, otherwise you’ll be adding to the food-waste mountain. With every flavourless bite you can’t help but be reminded of Ross Geller’s fake enjoyment of Rachel Green’s meat trifle in Friends.
Pure, chest-swelling pride when you notice sustainable toothbrushes in the bathroom. Is that … could it be … oh, this might just be the moment you’ve been waiting for your entire life.
The absolute glee of turning off the tap while a parent is brushing their teeth. The folks are in no position to ask you why when they have a mouthful of toothpaste. Any attempt to demand: “What are you doing, you …” is likely to set off in a minty explosion. One more thing for them to clean up while you marvel at the thought of the annual water savings you’ve set in motion.
Ground-swallowing mortification when yet another overpackaged parcel turns up from the world’s most popular next-day delivery e-commerce site. The strawberry shampoo does smell good, though.
Catty contentment as you join in the shaming of Dave down the road, who’s just bought an eight-seater SUV for his family of four. Where does he think he’s going? He doesn’t need that fuel-guzzler to drive down the cul-de-sac. Honestly, that Dave. Tut.
Finally, the familiar frustration as you once again pull a glass jar out of the main bin and ask who put it there. You’re not angry, just bitterly, deeply disappointed.
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