Start a business, save the planet

Start a business, save the planet
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As more consumers demand that companies behave in a socially responsible way, it's becoming more common for businesses to implement environmentally friendly practices. If you're an eco-minded entrepreneur, you can take this initiative one step further by starting a business whose purpose is to help the environment. Check out these eco-friendly business ideas for making money and saving the planet at the same time.

Green finance

Green finance
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Green finance focuses on supporting local, community-level projects, with an emphasis on sustainable, ecologically friendly agriculture. Green finance is also typically concerned with providing educational opportunities, funding for artistic endeavors and projects that support local ecology. As opposed to more conventional companies in the world of finance, green finance is preoccupied with the idea of social profit. While monetary profit remains important, the real goal of green finance is to support beneficial projects that provide value to the local community and ecology. Oftentimes, when conventional lenders shy away, green financial institutions can fill the void to help realize a positive project that otherwise would not exist.

Eco-friendly retail

Eco-friendly retail
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Consumer rewards programs are popular among retailers, and e-commerce site EcoPlum is no exception. With every purchase, customers earn EcoChipz, which are redeemable for either rewards or a donation to environmental causes. Each product sold also carries a third-party green certification or an equivalent eco-label. In addition to selling sustainably sourced products, EcoPlum produces educational content, such as monthly columns by industry experts, local green business listings, recycling information, eco-tips, and book and video recommendations.

Another retailer selling eco-friendly items is Eco Carmel, a Carmel, California-based home and garden store that serves as a local hub for products, services and advice on green living. Owner Kristi Reimers sells eco-friendly home products, such as nontoxic paint and cutting boards made from sustainably grown wood. Reimers also uses her knowledge of eco-friendly materials to help local businesses and homeowners find ways to incorporate renewable or recycled resources into their remodeling projects.

Sustainable construction materials

Sustainable construction materials
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You might not think of construction as very sustainable, but some companies are now providing recycled materials for use in projects like infrastructure repair. Axion, for example, with its eco-friendly products, hopes to change the way companies think about rebuilding America's infrastructure. The company's railroad ties and pilings are made from recycled plastic from consumer and industrial uses, rather than non-sustainable materials like steel and concrete. Axion is currently working with major partners like Long Island Rail Road to improve infrastructure safely and sustainably in the United States.

Organic catering

Organic catering
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A great way for eco-friendly foodies to share their passion for both food and the environment is to start an organic catering company. Cater local events and business luncheons with foods that are made from organic and locally grown ingredients, and offer free-range meats along with vegan, gluten-free and paleo meal options, and you'll appeal to nature lovers and health and wellness enthusiasts alike. Be sure to keep environmental impact to a minimum by avoiding plastic and paper goods as much as possible and composting food waste.

Eco-friendly beauty salon

Eco-friendly beauty salon
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If cosmetology is your passion, start a beauty business that's Mother Nature-approved. Organic and vegan hair and beauty products are popping up everywhere. A way to make this trend work for you is to open an eco-friendly beauty salon. You can start a hair salon that uses all-natural shampoos and conditioners, or a nail salon that uses environmentally friendly and vegan polishes and spa treatments.

Eco-friendly landscaping

Eco-friendly landscaping
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Professional landscaping may make the front lawn look nice, but all that maintenance isn't necessarily great for the environment. With some eco-friendly techniques, you can help homeowners make their yards literally and figuratively greener. SheKnows recommends synthetic turf, drought-resistant plants, and strategically placed trees for a lawn that saves water, energy and money.

Sustainable event planning

Sustainable event planning
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Whether they're big or small, meetings and events can generate large amounts of waste and consume high levels of energy and water. Green event planners can use their green expertise and event-planning skills to find eco-friendly venues, materials, accommodations, and other considerations to curb the effects of meetings and events on the environment. By taking the environmental footprint into consideration when planning events, sustainable event management benefits more than just the planet: According to the United Nations Environment Programme's Sustainable Event Guide, sustainable considerations also have financial advantages and create a positive image for event planners while raising awareness and inspiring change in the community.

Bicycle repair and refurbishing

bike
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Biking short distances instead of driving is better for both the environment and your health. Like most modes of transportation, bicycles occasionally need a tune-up. You could be the person local cyclists come to when their bikes are in need of some light repair or cleaning. If you have some extra garage or shed space, you could also purchase inexpensive older bikes, fix them up and sell them for a profit

Handmade all-natural/organic products

Handmade all-natural/organic products
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Soaps, cosmetics and cleaning products are just a few of the household products that can be made using common organic materials. Sure, anyone can find a recipe for a sugar scrub or vinegar-based cleaning solution and do it themselves, but if you package and sell them in sets, your customers can have those all-natural products at their fingertips without having to use their own time and resources. Local markets and events are a good place to sell, or you could start an online store.

Eco-consulting

ecofriendly
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Are you an expert on green living? Help others make their lives more eco-friendly by starting an eco-consulting service. These consultants evaluate homes and offices, and offer solutions to make them more environmentally friendly. This could mean advising people on how to switch to energy-efficient appliances or simply implementing a recycling program. Become a certified eco-consultant to boost your credibility with potential clients.

Farmers market vendor

farmer-11120202
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Thanks to the ongoing organic movement, those with a green thumb have a golden opportunity to make money by selling produce at their local farmers market. Having naturally grown fruits and vegetables will give you an advantage over competing growers that use conventional methods. You may have to go through an application process and/or get certified by your local board of health to begin selling. Visit WikiHow for more information.

Green house cleaning

Green house cleaning
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For working parents with long hours, cleaning the house can quickly fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Market yourself as the green solution to their housekeeping woes, offering everything from light dusting to heavy-duty chores like cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, using only approved all-natural and eco-friendly cleaning products. Charge an hourly rate, or create your own service packages for a flat fee. Remember that your clients will be giving you access to their entire homes, so make sure you build up a trustworthy reputation with people you know before advertising to strangers.

'Upcycled' furniture

'Upcycled' furniture
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Don't let your old, broken furniture end up in a landfill. With basic templates and access to power tools, you can break down and reassemble chairs, tables and dressers into new pieces that you can paint and sell. Shelving and storage units are easy to make from wood scraps, but depending on what you have, you might even be able to bring a piece back to life in its original form. Alternatively, you could reupholster old chairs and couches with new fabric.


 For the consumer, buying secondhand items doesn't just save money, it also helps the environment. AptDeco is an online marketplace that sells preowned home furnishings, giving a second life to gently used, high-quality items that would otherwise end up in a landfill. It also eliminates the waste of the manufacturing process and materials required to create a new piece.

Green franchises

franchise opportunity
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Want to run a business with a brand and customer base already in place? Investing in a franchise might be the answer. While "franchising" might call to mind fast-food joints and hotel chains, quite a few eco-friendly businesses are willing to sell you your own branch. Visit a green franchise directory for a list of opportunities.

Secondhand store

Secondhand store green businesses
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New things are typically expensive. For example, a new book could cost $15 to $30, while a used book usually only costs a couple dollars. Opening a secondhand store will not only save your customers money, but it's also great for the environment. Instead of tossing a perfectly good item into the trash, resell it to be used by another person. You can sell used clothes, coats, books, kitchen appliances and furniture. Visit this Business News Daily article for more information.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko and Nicole Fallon.
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