Sustainable Living in Miami

Miami, Florida is full of natural beauty and attractions that bring in many tourists every year. Miami is the only city in the United States to border two national parks. The city borders Biscayne National Park and Everglades national park. There are also several beaches in the city, providing ample opportunities for outdoor recreational activities. However, much of Miami’s natural environment is in danger of being destroyed by human activities. For example, the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve is in danger of degrading due to significant scarring from boat propellers in shallow areas. In the 1960’s, Biscayne Bay was also host to a near-disaster when FP&L dumped hot water from nuclear reactors into the water. The hot water killed large areas of sea grass as well as significant quantities of plants and animals.

Due to Florida’s geographical location, the state receives an average of 52 inches of rain every year. This rain contributes to water pollution when the stormwater runs over treated lawns, pavements, and roofs. Polluted stormwater can negatively influence wildlife while also impacting the quality of drinking water.

Children in Miami can get involved in sustainable living through the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation program’s Fit to Play Green It Up summer camps. The program encourages children to exercise and live an active lifestyle while developing knowledge in sustainability and eco-friendly living. The children learn about recycling, water conservation, composting, and other sustainable practices.

Homeowners can take advantage of several programs designed to lower each resident’s carbon footprint. The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer department has offered to exchange up to two showerheads per house in order to make it easier for homeowners to begin using low-flow showerheads. This program is open to those who have not had their bathrooms upgraded since 1996. Homeowners can also bring in up to three traditional incandescent bulbs to exchange for energy efficient CFL bulbs.

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program assists homeowners in designing landscaping that utilizes native plants, reduces stormwater runoff, protects local waterfronts, and uses water efficiently. The program also offers a subsidy of up to $400 a year for three years in order to assist homeowners in upgrading irrigation systems to make them more efficient.

The Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service also helps property owners in developing more efficient ways to manage stormwater and irrigate their yards. The department offers free rain barrel workshops in order to teach how to make rain barrels. For around $40, participants can construct their own rain barrels at the workshop.

While the city has been quick to develop home-based initiatives, citywide initiatives have been slower in coming. The public transportation system in Miami is not as accessible as it is in cities like Washington DC or New York. In addition, the bus fleet has not yet been upgraded to reduce dependency on oil. However, the city recently passed a bike master plan, which focuses on increasing the safety and ease of using a bicycle to commute. This master plan includes the construction of new bike trails and the development of more places to securely store bikes when not in use. The city’s Bike-and-Ride program allows commuters to ride their bikes to train and bus stations and then bring their bicycles with them as they ride the public transportation system. Miami also has a bicycle sharing and rental program that allows residents to rent a bicycle using a credit card, and then return the bicycle to any kiosk in the city.

The city of Miami, Florida has taken several steps to assist homeowners in living a sustainable lifestyle. Through several green initiatives, residents are able to conserve water and energy, use green transportation, and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds the city.

Businesses considering moving to or opening new offices in Miami Florida can play their part by ensuring environmental responsibility in a variety of ways from running paperless offices to supporting green-schemes. Other cities in Florida such as Orlando and Tampa also have opportunities to reduce the impact of new businesses by setting up offices with existing equipment and facilities.