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Irish Mammies fixing climate change? As if they hadn’t enough to be doing

COLM O'REGAN: Irish Mammies fixing climate change? As if they hadn’t enough to be doing

Irish Mammies fixing climate change? As if they hadn’t ENOUGH to be doing.

First, let me be clear. Climate change and environmental repair can only really be fixed by the actions of the 100 companies who do 70% of the damage. 

Real change can’t happen here until our governments for once in their special interest group-fearful lives get off their arses and do concrete things and start supporting public transport and cycling, encouraging reuse and less use, stop subsidising peat burning, support the kind of farming that is not ransacking the environment and … well there’s a lot they’re not doing.

But while we’re waiting and clamouring for all of that, we could be ‘tipping away’ at a few things ourselves by following a few old reliable Irish Mammy sayings.

Put on a jumper if you’re cold

The jumper, better than any ‘app-controlled thermostat in the cloud and Internet of things’. We only celebrate it now out at Christmas ironically. 

But jumpers are heroes. It works as follows. You put it on. And then you’re warmer.

Don’t forget your flask.

At some point we rejected the flask. Maybe the tea spilled all over our Ann and Barry. 

Maybe our Capital Exercise Books stank of soup and we never recovered from it but it’s time for the flask to come back. 

And lads, what’s with all the coffee cups? You don’t need the coffee. 

You only think you do and while you’re at it you’re holding up the queue. Bring a flask.

Haven’t you enough gallivanting now for one week?

Years ahead of their time, Irish Mammies realised that endless enjoyment and fulfilment actually only leads to a sense of emptiness. 

Fun isn’t endless. It needs to be rationed. Stay in. 

Get some rest. Good for the planet and for you.

Bored. I’ll give you bored. 

Activities. The bane of parents’ lives. 

The need to ferry children to and from non-stop. 

But activities often mean driving somewhere. Stay at home. Read a book. 

Here’s your crayons. Draw a picture. Daydream.

Irish Mammies fixing climate change? As if they hadn’t enough to be doing

Will you have it in a bowl or with a wafer? 

Ice cream was in a block wrapped in paper. You could have it in an edible wafer or a reusable bowl. 

Everything else was a treat.

Now everything is individually wrapped. A Magnum wants you to know ice cream is sexy. 

There’s nothing sexy about trying to get chocolate out of that new jumper. 

Anyway it’s too rich and will give you the runs. If you want sexy, have a cube of Neapolitan

And I’ll ask you again – bowl or wafer?

Here’s one of your father’s old underpants.

Rags. Every house should have plenty of them for cleaning purposes. 

And there’s nothing as absorbent as an ould lads underpants. 

The reusing of clothing from handmedowns to dusters was a staple. 

Now we throw out clothes and buy cloths.

Don’t be using the good teatowel/scissors and you’ll ruin your good trousers.

I’ll say one thing for a downtrodden country that was in thrall to the worst excesses of moral policing and hurt thousands of lives, at least it meant we had a Sunday best. 

The concept of cheap everything means there is no hierarchy of clothing, scissors, rooms, nothing. 

We buy and throw away. Why not buy something good, and get the wear out of it. 

I’ll give you ‘fast fashion’.

You’ll eat it and what’s more you’ll like It’s a sin to waste it with people starving.

The response to this was always: HOW AM I GOING TO HELP THE THIRD WORLD BY FINISHING THIS CABBAGE? 

Well, a lot of food requires fossil fuels to plant it, grow it, harvest it, package it, transport it. 

If you waste the food you waste that energy. QED. 

Cook less and finish your dinner, ya pup. 

The people in the third world would like to keep their coastlines.

Colm’s first novel Ann Devine, Ready For Her Close Up is in shops now. Printed on paper Grown from sustainable forests I hope. Or get it sustainably from the library.


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