Walking the Walk, Not Just Talking the Talk – Greta Thunberg

31 January 2020

5.4 MINS

Editor’s Note: This anonymous letter was sent to us by Cath Chegwidden from Newcastle, a city built on coal & steel. She told us that this letter was written by a concerned American mother, but has resonated with the residents at her retirement village. It put a smile on our faces too!


After our daughter of fifteen years of age was moved to tears by the speech of Greta Thunberg at the UN the other day, she became angry with our generation “who had been doing nothing for thirty years.”

So we decided to help her prevent what this girl on the TV announced, while wearing her synthetic clothing with plastic buttons, of the “massive eradication and the disappearance of entire ecosystems.”

We are now committed to giving our daughter a future again, by doing our part to help cool the planet four degrees.

From now on she will go to school on a bicycle, because driving her by car costs fuel, and fuel puts emissions into the atmosphere. Of course it will be winter soon and then she will want to go by bus, but only as long as it is a diesel bus.

Somehow, that does not seem to be conducive to “helping the Climate.”

Of course, she is now asking for an electric bicycle, but we have shown her the devastation caused to the areas of the planet as a result of mining for the extraction of Lithium and other minerals used to make batteries for electric bicycles, so she will be pedaling or walking, which will not harm her or the planet. We used to walk or cycle to school too.

Since the girl on TV demanded “we need to get rid of our dependency on fossil fuels” and our daughter agreed with her, we have disconnected the heat vent in her room.

The temperature is now dropping to 12 degrees in the evening, and where we live will drop below freezing in the winter. We have promised to buy her an extra sweater, hat, tights, gloves and a blanket.

For the same reason, we have decided that from now on, she only takes a cold shower. She will wash her clothes by hand, with homemade soap, and a wooden washboard, because the washing machine is a power consumer; and since the dryer uses natural gas, she will hang her clothes on a clothesline to dry.

Speaking of clothing, the ones that she currently has are all synthetic, so made from petroleum-based products. Therefore, on Monday we will take all her designer clothing to the second-hand shop for recycling.

As for fleecy garments and hoodies, dressing gowns and blankets, these generate more micro-plastic pollution in the ocean than any other garments! Wool only, so out they go as well.

We have found an eco-store where the clothing they sell is made from only naturally dyed, or natural and unbleached silk, linen, wool, bamboo, and jute or hemp. It shouldn’t matter whether it looks good on her or that she is going to be laughed at, dressing in colourless, bland clothes without an underwire bra — that is the price she has to pay for the benefit of the climate.

Cotton is out of the question, as pesticides are necessary in its production, and it has to be transported long distances, often internationally. It’s very bad for the environment.

From now on, at 7 pm we will turn off the Wi-Fi and we will only switch it on again after dinner for two hours. In this way we will save on electricity, so she is not bothered by electro-stress and will be totally isolated from the outside world.

This way, she can concentrate solely on her homework. At 11 o’clock in the evening, we will pull the breaker to shut off power to her room, so that she knows that dark means really dark. That will save a lot of CO2.

No longer will we be going to faraway holiday destinations, as they are inaccessible by bicycle. Since our daughter fully agrees with the girl on TV that the CO2 emissions and carbon footprints of her great-grandparents are to blame for “killing our planet”, what all this simply means is that she has to live like her great-grandparents, and they never had a holiday, a car or even a bicycle.

We haven’t talked about the carbon footprint of food yet. Zero if it’s home-grown.

Zero CO2 footprint means no meat, no fish and no poultry, but also no meat substitutes that are based on soy (after all, that grows in farmer’s fields and requires pesticides and machinery to harvest the beans, trucks to transport to the processing plants, where more energy is used, then trucking to packaging /canning plants, and trucked once again to stores) and also no imported food, because of the negative ecological effect.

And absolutely no: chocolate from Africa, no coffee from South America and no tea from Kenya, India, or Asia.

Only homegrown: potatoes, vegetables and fruit that have been grown in natural soil because greenhouses and hydroponics run on boilers, piped in CPO2, and artificial light. Apparently, these things are also bad for the Climate. We will teach her to grow her own.

Bread is still possible, but butter, milk, cheese and yogurt, cottage cheese and cream come from cows and they emit CO2. No more margarine and no oils will be used for the frying pan, because that fat requires palm oil from plantations in Borneo where rainforests once grew.

No ice cream in the summer. No soft drinks and energy drinks, as the bubbles are CO2. She wanted to lose weight and the sugar production, bottle and can processing are problematic as well, so that will help her to achieve her goal here as well.

We will also ban all plastic in our home because it comes from petroleum and requires C02-producing activities to process it. Everything made from steel or aluminium requires metallurgical coal and must also be removed.

Have you ever seen the amount of energy a blast furnace consumes, or an aluminium smelter? Uber-bad for the climate!!! No car or driving lessons for her either.

We will replace her 9600-coils, memory-foam pillow-top mattress, with a jute bag filled with feathers, straw and a horsehair pillow.

And finally, she will no longer be using makeup, shampoo, cream lotion, conditioner, toothpaste and medication, just like her female ancestors did before Climate Change made her angry at us for destroying her future.

In this way, we will help her to do her part to prevent mass extinction; if she truly believes she wants to walk the talk of that girl on TV, she will gradually accept and embrace her new way of life.



To the Editor:

This article really made me think outside the square.

Living in Newcastle, NSW we are constantly being subjected to coal protests because of our coal exports. No one addresses the fact that this coal is the hardest and highest quality metallurgical coal in the world. It is not merely for the production of power, but for the blast furnaces in the world. Anything made from gold, copper, steel, glass, etc. requires this coal in its processing.

Think! Without this coal there would be no cars, petrol bowsers, no wind farms, solar panels, no mobile phones, electric cars, fridges, washing machines, kitchen sinks, in fact anything that requires these products in its manufacture.

In our technological cleverness and one-upmanship, we are so blinkered and only see the end product, not the CO2 generating processes necessary in its manufacture. In other words, we can’t see the wood for the trees.

Being a senior, I lived without plastics in my youthful very early years when newspaper wrapped our waste and decorated the dunny, not bleached toilet rolls. Chicken was a once-a-year luxury at Christmas. Homegrown veggies were the norm.

Bakelit was as plastic as it got in the upright radio and light switches. We walked everywhere, except for the bus or tram into cities. Rayon was a new synthetic, and Crimplene made its advent in the sixties. Packaging was waxed paper and cardboard.

If action for change is to come, it must begin with each of us thinking of what action we can do to make a difference.

We must become less selfish and learn how our actions affect others. Education is very necessary for the youth to fully understand.

~ Cath Chegwidden

[Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels]

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  1. yvonne jaclson 31 January 2020 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    That is the most ridiculous explanation of what climate change is all about. The UK is slowly relying on alternative sources of power, and life is going on as usual. Only a very uneducated person would wrote such nonsense.

    • Rob 1 February 2020 at 12:56 am - Reply

      Criticizing someone for doing their part? How dare you!

  2. Dusty Greatbatch 31 January 2020 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    @yvonne jacison
    Did you actually read the article?
    It hardly mentions energy production at all.

  3. Brett 29 February 2020 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Do you know the difference between a new wineskin and an old wineskin?

    Not its chronological age…

    It’s its flexibility…

    Therefore, you can have a wineskin that is new in age, but because it is rigid, it is old.

    Conversely, because a wineskin is still flexible, no matter of its chronological age, it is new.

    Mind you, you can have an old wine skin both in age as well as rigidity…

    The supposed letter above is indicative of some of the issues of American, Australia and Western people.

    Rigid, prescriptive, clever without being wise, and downright mean in intent.

    It shows more about that American mother’s character, than her daughter’s.

    C’mon Cath, I live in Newcastle as well and despite of the quality of our coal, we must move towards a future that is less dependent upon these finite resources.

    It makes sense…

    Be a new wineskin…

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