These problems aren’t easily fixed; getting the attention of marginalized groups can be difficult due to a range of issues. Lack of time and resources (both from the marginalized and the environmental groups), a disinterest brought about by feeling separate from the issues, or prioritization of other issues that demand time and effort all contribute to this difficulty. But the environment is a constant in our — everyone’s — daily lives. Environmental groups need to more proactively promote a sustained connection with nature for all people. That, at least, would be a start. As a Hispanic individual who grew up in a Spanish-speaking environment, I see disseminating information in multiple languages as one way to engage a broader audience (and this needs to be done at a community level, rather than hoping people stumble upon Spanish materials posted online).

I don’t believe I have all of the solutions, but I know that when I look around, I see an environmental movement losing relevance in my world.

My generation, known by many for its self-absorption, may not have the means to monetarily support environmental organizations, but we are innovative, and we love to share ideas and feel like we have a cause and purpose in the world (as long as someone’s listening and taking notice). I don’t believe I have all of the solutions, but I know that when I look around, I see an environmental movement losing relevance in my world as a young, low-income person of color. Environmental problems are humanity’s problems. The movement to address those problems needs to find a way to make everyone see that.

Today, staying relevant means engaging with the broadest group of voices possible. Republicans learned that lesson in the latest presidential election, noting that both women and voters of color are going to be key to winning elections moving forward. The environmental movement needs to learn this lesson much faster than it seems to be — to not only save itself but the environment, too. In a world where issues such as gun control, education, LGBTQ rights and much more have nudged their way into the American psyche and national conversation, the environmental movement needs to do the same. As the Rio Declaration stated two decades ago, “Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens.” Making this a priority is the only real path toward creating the widespread movement that we need today. Anything less, and we’ll see a movement soon stifled and insignificant, failing at all it set out to accomplish. View Ensia homepage

Editor’s note: The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Ensia. We present them to further discussion around important topics. We encourage you to respond with a comment below, following our commenting guidelines, which can be found here. In addition, you might consider submitting a Voices piece of your own. See Ensia’s “Contact” page for submission guidelines.

UPDATED 07.03.13: The first paragraph of this article originally attributed a quote from a Grist magazine article to Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus’ essay “The Death of Environmentalism.” The article has since been updated to include a quote from their essay instead.