This is part of a youth takeover: we asked our under 25 staff and volunteers to share their stories with us in the run up to the climate strikes, because we want to put their voices front and centre. They are raw, real and they're helping RSPB get with the times - challenging us to think differently - and we love it. Between  16th - 20th October you will see a new story each day. Enjoy!

A critical look at some of the ways environmental activism has excluded or impacted marginalised groups in society - by Allie McGregor...

Despite the goals of many activists having worthy roots, and despite the driving forces behind movements often being minority groups, diversity and inclusion in activism often fails. There are numerous examples of exclusion in environmental activism at a time when we need to be supporting and encouraging everyone to save our nature.

"It's time to ASK people how they can get involved in our fight for nature, instead of telling them."

The final straw

Banning plastic straws was picked up as a key issue for many people concerned about pollution in our oceans and the impact on wildlife. The goal is worthy; we do need to reduce the production of these plastics which contribute to emissions and we do need to reduce the amount of plastic littering in our marine ecosystems, threatening our wildlife.

Ditching the plastic straw is an easy task for most of us, and it is just one small action that will make a difference. With a growing number of alternative straws on the market, and more retailers to paper or glass alternatives, it seems like a battle is being won. Most people are able to stop using plastic straws - but the key word here is most. Unfortunately, for some people, the militant attack on plastic straws is threatening their day-to-day lives.

For some disabled people access to plastic straws is vital. With some cities and countries threatening (or already enacting) outright bans on plastic straws, where do we leave those who rely on them? Disability Activist Jessica Kellgren-Fozard said: "A ban on plastic straws comes from a wonderful place, concern for our ecosystem, but inadvertently harms those with disabilities. One person's ecological conversation starter is another's nutritional lifeline."

A cut above the rest

Another lifestyle change encouraged alongside environmentalism is diet. This is once again a case of a worthy goal of trying to reduce emissions and food waste becoming a bit of an untameable beast. It is fantastic that alternatives to animal products are readily available and more people are becoming aware of how to reduce or remove meat from their diet to have a positive impact on the planet. Unfortunately, some environmentalists take it too far and abuse those who choose not to entirely cut out meat or animal products from their diet.

There are both health and accessibility reasons why people might not be able to commit to a certain diet. It is also an entirely personal choice and someone else's diet is, quite frankly, no one else's business. If you can reduce or cut meat and other animal products then go for it — that's fantastic — but you should never police other people's eating habits. Some vegetarian activists also choose to co-opt and trivialise movements with a focus on human rights. This approach can get a lot of attention given its controversial nature, but can ultimately end up alienating marginalised groups.

Change for everyone

I don't share these examples to try and put you off environmental campaigning and lifestyle changes altogether. If you are able to make changes and help others to — go for it! I share these examples because we need everyone to buy-in to change in order to save our planet. Campaigning tools and actions that only work for one group in society is not enough and is currently pushing people away from taking action. Activism is often led by those who are most disadvantaged in society and climate change is going to hit the most disadvantaged the hardest. It's time to ASK people how they can get involved in our fight for nature instead of telling them.

We can all agree without doubt, that coming together to save nature and our planet in any way we can is urgent. Rapid and radical changes have to be made and an unprecedented number of people across the globe are stepping up and beginning to demand those changes or make those changes themselves. What's happening to our planet is terrifying and what people are doing is inspiring, but we need to do better to ensure we aren't leaving anyone behind.

Author: Allie McGregor, Communications Officer, Scotland

We hope you're out at your local climate strike today! The 20th is here! Go campaign to your heart's content and make sure you share your support on social media: #ClimateStrike, #YouthStrike4Climate. Find out more at ukscn.org.

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