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When teen climate activist Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit this week her words hit many parents right in the heart. We are supposed to be protecting our kids, but Thunberg proves many of our kids don't feel like we're doing that.

"I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope," Thunberg said.

She continued: "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words."

Thunberg and so many children like her are counting on our generation to do something, and the good news is you don't have to be a world leader to take action.

Here are five ways you can help fight climate change today, mama:

1. Ditch the disposables

It seems like a small thing, but being more intentional about what we consume is an important way to fight climate change. As National Geographic reports, about 40% of the plastic goods made every year are made to be thrown away, but they are not biodegradable and are ending up in our oceans.

Back in 1955 Life magazine published a photo of a family throwing disposable plates, cups and utensils up into the air. The headline was "Throwaway Living," and the article explained it would take hours to clean all those objects but "that no housewife need bother" because they were disposable.

"Throwaway Living" promised women freedom but it didn't deliver. We're still doing the lion's share of the housework (even if most of us aren't "housewives" anymore) but we're also tossing tons of plastics each week. By ditching paper towels and plastic wrap for more eco-friendly alternatives we can start making a difference in our own homes.

[Editor's note: Mothers should not feel guilty about using disposable diapers. While using cloth diapers is a great alternative for some it is not always feasible for every parent. We support mothers in choosing whatever works best for their family.]

2. Consider reusable containers 

So much of that 40% of the world's plastic is actually not only meant to be disposable but meant to be disposed of within five minutes of landing in the hands of the end consumer. We can make small changes to our shopping habits and eliminate everything from produce bags to toothpaste tubes by bringing our own containers to the grocery store or simply making more conscious decisions about what we buy.

We can involve our kids by asking them to help us find household containers to repurpose or get their help making our own produce bags.

3. Eat more plants

For a lot of people, going vegan today is not an option, but we can all eat more plants and reduce our dependance on meat. A report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (compiled by 100 scientists from more than 50 nations) suggests that if we just eat more plant-based meals we could mitigate some problems associated with climate change.

Cattle produce a lot of emissions. There are things cattle producers can do to reduce this, but simply by demanding fewer cattle we can reduce it. We can encourage food manufacturers to consider plant-based alternatives by buying more of them.

It's time for a #meatlessmonday, even if you can't go fully vegan right this second.

4. Travel with intention

Using public transportation or being more active can be fun for kids and a way to be intentional about fighting climate change. When possible, take the bus or train or take your kids for a bike ride. Some of your travel needs may have to happen by car, but just try to be conscious of how you can reduce the discretionary trips.

Greta Thunberg gave up flying to flight climate change. Some sustainability experts have not gone as far for practical reasons and instead do things like cut the number of their trips and/or the distance.

You may not be able to give up your car or flying right now, but we can all be more intentional about our travel and explain to our children why we are doing so.

5. Demand politicians take action 

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Call your reps and let then know you are listening to the next generation, and ask if they are, too. Ask them what they are doing to ensure the children in your community will still be able to live there decades from now.

If you don't know what number to call, you can either call the US Capitol switchboard or punch your info into callmycongress.com and get the direct phone numbers. An election is looming and now is the time to ask those holding seats and those hoping to win them not only where they stand on climate change but what, exactly, they plan to do about it.

Our kids can't vote yet, so they need us to keep lawmakers accountable.

In her speech Thunberg had a message for our generation:

"You are failing us, but the young people are starting to understand your betrayal ... Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not."

It's hard to make changes, but we need to. Our children deserve to dream about the future. They shouldn't have to be fighting for one.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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