YOU might not have thought so, had you been trying to take the Tube last week when Extinction Rebellion disrupted the rush hour commute, but protesting is a vital way of highlighting what’s wrong with the world.

Young people should be angry, they should be taking to the streets with fire in their belly to protest and make their voices heard. When I was young I joined demos against everything from education cuts to apartheid. I was at the poll tax march. I joined Greenpeace when I was at school, I campaigned against battery farming, I stopped eating meat aged 18 and haven’t eaten it since.

Protests get the world’s attention and, as inheritors of the earth, young people must speak out. But this demographic, the Millennials and Gen Z, is accountable for its actions too. This is a generation that guzzles junk food like never before, leaving a trail of plastic cartons, straws, cutlery and bottles, and in the process contributing to the over-consumption of meat and an industry that swallows up vast swathes of land worldwide to produce it. And the aftermath of music festival sites, littered with plastic and food waste, is a shameful fall-out of the disposable age. More than 320 tons of waste went to landfill following last year’s Leeds and Reading Festivals.

When Sir David Attenborough took to the stage at Glastonbury this year, the crowd went wild. The 93-year-old naturalist thanked the festival for going plastic-free. It didn’t stop revellers leaving the huge site knee-deep in litter.

It’s something that enraged our enviro columnist, the late Keith Thomson, who foraged festival sites for food bank provisions. “You could pick your way through acres and acres of small tents, probably close on 30,000,” he said, after a festival collection in 2017, where he’d found many abandoned tents containing discarded sleeping bags, towels, clothes and half-open boxes and tins of food. “I’m ashamed that we have allowed the younger generation to indulge themselves in this way, producing enormous amounts of extra CO2 and apparently not giving a hoot,” Keith told me.

More often than not, those who get their hands dirty at community clean-ups or volunteer at food banks are older people. A letter by 87-year-old Wilfred Shaw, recently published by the T&A, offered food for thought. Referring to the climate protests in London, led by “mostly young people”, he wrote: “They do nothing practical to save the planet - yet local organisations like Heaton Woods Trust, who have been planting trees for many years, would welcome young volunteers. Original members are getting fewer, and growing older, but still have to do all the work.”

Go to Heaton Woods or Undercliffe Cemetery on a weekend and who’s doing the back-breaking work? It’s left to a small band of middle-aged and elderly volunteers, led by Allan Hillary, (an octogenarian, like Keith Thomson) to tend to thousands of graves sprawling the 26-acres of Undercliffe Cemetery, cutting back chest-high overgrowth and digging up weeds. Who will preserve our historic sites, woodlands and wildlife havens when this generation are no longer here?

When it comes to taking action, Sir David Attenborough advises: “The best motto is to not waste things...and look after the natural world and the animals in it. This is their planet as well as ours.”

Older generations are largely to blame for the state of the planet. But young people must take responsibility too. Take to the streets in protest, but be mindful of waste. And don’t neglect the smaller spaces closer to home.

* I LOVE Noodles, the 'campervan cat' who appeared in the T&A this week. Bingley couple Robert and Alex Crosland take their beloved moggie on overseas road trips in their motorhome - he explores campsites and beaches, even paddles in the sea.

It reminded me of childhood holidays in our east coast caravan, where we used to take our two cats. They'd spend the days roaming nearby fields and always found their way back to the caravan (often with a mouse or two). Withernsea wasn't as glam as Paris or Capri, where Noodles has been, but the cats enjoyed the coastal countryside, and curling up on our bunk-beds. They liked it so much they'd often disappear when it was time to go home, leaving my poor mum to wander the campsite, banging on a tin of cat food with a fork. Mortifying.

* WELL done Sainsbury's for not selling fireworks in the lead-up to Bonfire Night. The decision follows a survey that found most people support a ban on firework sales to the public, amid concerns about them in built-up areas and even thrown at emergency services.

Sainsbury's move is welcomed by Dogs Trust, which wants fireworks restricted to organised displays at certain times of the year. It's time the law was changed to put this in place. Fireworks cause noise pollution, and are horribly distressing for pets and wildlife. I'd be happy with an outright ban.