Environmentalism, to some of us, is a four-letter word. Whether you agree or not, it is vital for all of us to understand how to talk with one another about the subject.
The biggest mistake most "environmentalists" make in trying to get others to understand and accept the importance of environmentalism is the way environmentalists tend to perceive and talk about it. Most environmentalists talk about environmentalism from an altruistic or "bleeding heart" perspective. In other words, they say things from the perspective of "saving the Earth" or "protecting the Environment." This is misguided and does not speak to the many "non-environmentalists" who need to understand why environmentalism is important.
Here is the cold, hard truth. The Earth/Environment does not need us to look out for it one bit. The Earth has been around for over four billion years, long before humans ever existed, and will be around long after humans are extinct. Our planet could easily wipe us from existence tomorrow without batting an eye and go on just fine. Protecting our environment has absolutely nothing to do with saving other plant/animal species or Mother Earth. It has to do with one thing and one thing only: preserving the quality of human life for as long as humanly possible. We must learn to always talk about it in that more accurate, straightforward way.
Here is a morbid fact that many people will not like to think about, but it is important for all of us to understand and learn to accept. No matter what we do or do not do, the human race will cease to exist in the relatively near future. We can try to ignore that fact by living in narrow-minded and short-sighted ignorant bliss, or by entertaining fantasies of colonizing other planets. But the reality remains that we are just a tiny blip in the grand scheme of time and the Universe. Knowing this, we may be inclined toward apathy and resignation. Or, we can choose to accept this fact and still make the most of our time here.
If we do choose to make the most of our time here, then we best make sure we maximize both the length and quality of it as a species and now. Things like ecological collapse and climate change are things that we simply cannot fix in the last hour. In fact, thousands if not millions of lives have likely already been prematurely lost due to our passivity already. We must learn to think beyond the terms of our day-to-day existence, and think about our lives in the long-term, about our children's and grandchildren's lives, and about the people in our world as a whole. That last part is important because we do not live in a vacuum. When other people in our world suffer, we are all subject to living in a worse environment and world. One of the main reasons we formed a civilized society in the first place was because we came to selfishly understand we could each live better lives by collectively looking out for one another than by only looking out for our own immediate self interests. Many of us have forgotten that along the way. It's time we are all reminded of that, but reminded in a straightforward way that each of us can understand, if not accept.
The primary call to action is to change the way we think and talk about environmentalism.
There are already plenty of resources out there about how to live smarter in this respect so I'll list just one here: Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day. This book has been around a while but I still like it because it is simpler and, as the title suggests, less "preachy" than other resources on the subject, making it an easier starting-off point for most people.