What can I do about climate change?

There are many actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint and live a more sustainable, eco-friendly life. We all have the opportunity to choose products and actions that have less environmental impact from “cradle to grave”. By introducing these behavior changes gradually, they are more likely to become a lifestyle. They are listed here in ranked order with actions of most impact at top.

For more information on the most impactful actions that individuals, governments, and industries can take to tackle climate change, check out Project Drawndown.


Food waste accounts for 8% of global emissions. Many of these emissions come from transportation, storage, and processing of food but individuals can reduce food waste by monitoring their food purchases and ensuring they do are not ordering, buying, or serving too much food. 

More info on the environmental impact of reducing food waste

Reducing your meat and/or animal product consumption helps conserve natural resources that would be used to support livestock. Livestock requires significantly more water and land to grow compared to produce. Adopting a vegan diet can reduces your ecological footprint by up to 70% but any reduction of animal products is great! You can purchase locally grown, seasonal produce via CSAs or Farmer’s Markets; eat at farm-to-table restaurants; adopt #MeatlessMondays; and try out different meat substitutes like tofu, seitan, jackfruit, and Impossible Burgers.

More info on the environmental impact of plant-rich diets

The cost of solar panels has greatly decreased over the past decade and they more popular and efficient than ever. Programs like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) and Solar United Neighbors (Solar Co-op) provide financing options to reduce capital costs when installing solar. If you cannot purchase your own solar panels you can subscribe you FPL’s Solar Together program and purchase up to 100% of your electricity from solar farms.

More info on the environmental impact of rooftop solar

Air infiltration accounts for 25 to 60 percent of energy used to heat and cool homes. To significantly reduce this wasted energy, people can invest in: better insulation for their homes, impact (or double-paned impact) windows, and smart thermostats. Insulation and better windows will keep cool air from escaping while a programmable smart thermostat will make sure air conditioning is used as efficiently as possible. PACE financing is an option for finance these home improvements as well.

More info on the environmental impact of building insulation
More info on the environmental impact of high-performance glass windows
More info on the environmental impact of smart thermostats

28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and many of those emissions come from individual cars. Electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions and that’s not only good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also for improving air quality. Driving an electric vehicle Electric Vehicles are great for regional trips as their range is around 200 miles and have lower operational costs than gas-powered cars. Take advantage of the $7500 Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit. If you’re not ready to commit to an electric vehicle or make many long distance trips, you can also try a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid.

More info on the environmental impact of electric cars
More info on the environmental impact of hybrid cars

Lighting accounts for 15% of global electricity use. LED bulbs are the most efficient lighting solution on the market as they use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and half as much as fluorescent bulbs. They also last six times longer than other bulbs. Almost all lightbulbs can be replaced with LED bulb which will also save you money and maintenance.

More info on the environmental impact of LED lighting

As previously mentioned, 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and many of those emissions come from individual cars. According to the American Community Survey, roughly 76% of Americans drive alone to work. Taking alternate modes of transportation like the Metrorail, Metrobus, bikes, and scooters can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions or you can consider carpooling when possible. Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have carpool options that are not only more cost-effective but also more eco-friendly.

More info on the environmental impact of carpooling
More info on the environmental impact of public transit

Only 1% of all water on earth is freshwater that is readily available for use. That means all 7 billion humans on the planet plus all the plants and animals have to share this small quantity of water! Simple investments like low-flow fixtures can reduce one’s water use by up to 20%. Miami-Dade County offers rebates to residents for installing low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets. In addition simple behavior changes like shorter showers (5 minutes), and turning off the faucet when washing dishes or brushing your teeth can add up to significant water conservation.

More info on the environmental impact of reducing water use

This age-old adage is actually in order of most impactful to least. Primarily, individuals should be seeking to reduce their waste streams and single-use plastics is a great first step. You can take action by always packing a reusable bag when shopping, cooking more often, buying in bulk, avoiding plastic wrap when storing leftovers, buying reusable metal or bamboo cutlery and straws… the possibilities are endless! Reusing items as much as it is safe and possible to do so can help reduce one’s waste stream. Lastly, when possible, recycling correctly ensures salvageable materials can be turned into new goods and helps move towards a closed-loop economy.  

More info on the environmental impact of recycling

One of the most impactful ways to create change is to learn more about environmental issues and become an environmental advocate! There are many local organizations that can help you connect with other environmentalists in Miami and important environmental issues.

Join the CLEO Institute Speaker Network and become a Certified Climate Communicator
Enroll in Catalyst Miami’s leadership training, CLEAR: Climate Leadership on Environment, Advocacy, and Resilience
Advocate for federal level policies with Citizens Climate Lobby