Modern American environmental social movements have strived for a better world for nearly fifty years, pushing a philosophy of careful resource use and limited consumption as an alternative to the pollution and degradation that has so far accompanied global industrialization. The reach of these movements is broad and the topic they cover is one that aligns with the values and beliefs of many; it is thus quite confusing that they've been so unsuccessful. This thesis was a response to that apparent contradiction, exploring why movements have not been as successful as both they and the public initially desired. It began by defining what social movements are and how they emerge or find success, then provided a brief history of environmentalism in America, and the different successes and failures that occurred before and after the first Earth day in 1970. Finally, it explored some of the reasons environmentalism was unsuccessful, and found that while structural barriers like politics and business interests played a role in movement outcomes, the tactics of different groups were at least partially to blame. Once this was concluded, the author used the perspectives of different activists to propose ways to enhance the quality of current movements and allow them to continue to make progress well into the future. In order to expand the audience of this thesis, the author is also working on a children;s book that illustrates many of the important themes that he hopes to convey to the public. Though drafted, the book is incomplete as of the date that documents are due for Barrett review.