Can One Person Make A Difference? How Your Personal Choices Affect Climate Change Every Day

Carl Rivera
3 min readDec 7, 2021


Chances are pretty good that you’re not a CEO of a globe-spanning company, or a tech billionaire shooting giant rockets into space — so what difference can you really make?

Well — more than you think.

You can have a surprising effect on the world around you through your own personal actions, and those actions can also have a ripple effect that leads to larger changes than you would expect.

It may not be you personally who’s responsible for climate change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a positive impact on the situation.

Big Companies, Small Choices

Some people would argue that it’s impossible for one person to make a difference, because up to 70% of the world’s CO2 emissions can be traced back to just 100 companies.

That argument glosses over one important detail, though — no company survives in a vacuum, they survive as a result of our spending.

The small choices we make, such as where we spend our money, decide which companies will succeed and which will fail.

It would be great if those companies would just clean up their act, but since that’s unlikely, it’s up to us as consumers to make responsible choices and back the companies who deserve to succeed.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Ethical Endeavors

How are we supposed to know which companies are truly doing the right thing?

I’ll admit, it can be pretty tricky — there’s no clear-cut guide, and things often aren’t so black and white.

The best thing you can do is to take a few minutes to research companies you want to support, which at least is fairly easy with a bit of googling.

Go to the website of a company you think is worth supporting, and check the bottom of the main page for a headline like “Sustainable Practices.”

Most businesses that put in the extra effort to make their products renewable, sustainable, or eco-friendly will be happy to tell you about it.

The Ripple Effect

Your impact doesn’t have to stop with the products you use and the companies you support.

It can extend pretty far out, though you may never know just how far it’s gone.

Humans are social creatures, and while we all like to be individuals, we also don’t want to stand out from the crowd too much.

If everyone else is doing something, it must be a good thing to do, and we’re likely to do it, too.

You can see sort of positive peer pressure in a lot of places, if you go to a neighborhood where everyone keeps their grass well-trimmed and their sidewalks shoveled all winter — the new neighbors will almost certainly do the same.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops that you’re wearing a cruelty-free winter jacket made with recycled materials, but when someone compliments your jacket, you might say “Right? It’s so great that they’re making them with entirely recycled plastic and vegan down nowadays.”

The goal isn’t to pressure people into doing the right thing, but to show them the benefits that go along with it.

The person who compliments your jacket today may tell three friends next week, who might mention how great vegan insulation is to a few family members — it all spreads out, like ripples in a pond.

You never know how much change you can cause with the smallest of decisions.

That’s why it’s so important to make good choices — today.



Carl Rivera

“Everything you don’t know is something you can learn.”