May 13, 2020 / 5:10 PM / 24 days ago

False claim: Greta Thunberg told Chinese and Japanese governments to stop using chopsticks

Posts on social media allege Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg told the Chinese government to “stop using traditional chopsticks”. Another iteration of the claim alleges Thunberg made the same statement to the Japanese government. As of May 13, 2020 the claim has been shared over 8,700 times on Facebook.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

One post reads: “This is too good to let pass by! Greta Tunberg called on the Chinese to stop using their traditional chopsticks and thus save hundreds of trees. The Chinese advised Greta Thunberg to return to school, where she will learn that the sticks are made of bamboo, and that bamboo is a plant, not a tree. And they called her to stop wiping her butt with toilet paper because it is actually made of wood!”

Examples of Facebook posts are visible here , here , here , here and here .

The claim has also been shared in Dutch ( here ) and Danish ( here ).

Reuters did not find any evidence from a credible source confirming Thunberg ever made similar statements. Thunberg’s team confirmed to Reuters that she had never made such a statement.

The earliest iteration of this claim is a tweet from January 14, 2020 ( here ), from a user apparently located in the U.S. The tweet, which makes no mention of any specific country, includes the statement, “Greta said don’t use chopsticks. Cuz it is symbol of environmental destruction.”

Norwegian fact-checker Faktish reported here that the claim was then published in a Quora forum here , with the title “What do you think about Greta Thunberg asking China to ban chopsticks?”, and then published in Russian in several blog entries.

A Google search in Russian shows that blogs entries with the claim were published on January 23, 2020 here , January 24 ( here ) and January 29 ( here , here ).

Danish fact-checker TjekDet traced the origin of the claim to a Chinese article from January 15, 2020 which also alleged Thunberg “is coming (to China)”. According to the fact-checker, the article might have stemmed from an authentic declaration made by Thunberg earlier on January, about the possibility of visiting Asia ( here ).

On January 3, 2020, Thunberg told Japanese media outlet Kyodo News, she is willing to travel to Asian countries including China ( bit.ly/3dFTVTv ) and Japan ( bit.ly/3fOvMfp ). During the interview, Thunberg made no mention about chopsticks.

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence teen climate activist Greta Thunberg made this statement about chopsticks. The claim has been circulating online since January 2020.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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