Today’s consumers are just as interested in a business’s corporate social responsibility practices as they are in its products and services. This is good news for eco-minded entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in starting a company that can make a lasting environmental impact, consider the following 23 eco-friendly business ideas. You can simultaneously make money and help save the planet.
Eco-friendly companies may include outdoor apparel brands, businesses that make reusable plastic bottles, eco-friendly cleaning companies, businesses that install solar panels, a local recycling business, and many other potential ventures. If you want to start a business with a green, eco-friendly focus, consider any of the 23 ideas below.
Starting an ink refill business can be an environmentally conscious — and highly profitable — decision. You might question whether refilling ink cartridges truly helps the environment considering the amount of paper wasted annually. However, when people reuse old ink cartridges, less nonbiodegradable waste accumulates in landfills. Paper, printers and copiers are still necessary in the business world, but empty ink containers are not.
If you love to write, start your own environmentally minded publication. Your actions can make a big difference in the world. By debunking popular myths and sharing the truth about the world we live in, you can help consumers rethink how their actions affect the planet.
Green finance focuses on supporting local, community-level projects with an emphasis on sustainable and ecologically friendly agriculture. Green finance is also typically concerned with educational opportunities, funding for artistic endeavors and projects that support local ecology.
Green finance is preoccupied with social profitability. While actual profit margins remain crucial, green finance aims to support beneficial projects that provide value to the local community and ecology.
The online clothing brand For Days provides an interesting twist on customer loyalty programs. Customers can purchase a “take-back bag” and send the company clothes they no longer use. In doing so, they earn rewards to spend on future For Days clothing purchases.
Besides incentivizing sustainable clothes shopping, For Days partners with other leading brands in the sustainable textiles space, such as ADIUM and CARIUMA. If you’re thinking about opening a retail store, consider partnering with a company that has values similar to you and your customers.
You might not think of construction as sustainable, but some companies now provide recycled materials for use in projects like infrastructure repair.
For example, Axion hopes its eco-friendly products will change how companies think about rebuilding America’s infrastructure. Its railroad ties and pilings are made from recycled plastic from consumer and industrial uses instead of nonsustainable materials like steel and concrete. Axion has worked with major partners like Long Island Rail Road to improve infrastructure safely and sustainably in the United States.
As organic food sales skyrocket, eco-friendly foodies should consider starting an organic catering company to share their passion for food and the environment. You could work out of a food truck or a catering kitchen. If you cater local events and business luncheons with organic and locally grown ingredients, free-range meats, and vegan, gluten-free and paleo meal options, you’ll appeal to nature lovers and health and wellness enthusiasts alike.
Be sure to minimize your venture’s environmental impact by avoiding plastic and paper goods as much as possible and by composting food waste.
If cosmetology is your passion, start a beauty business that’s Mother Nature-approved. Open a salon that prioritizes organic and vegan hair and beauty products. Eco-friendly hair salons can stock all-natural shampoos and conditioners, while nail salons can use environmentally friendly and vegan polishes and spa treatments.
Professional landscaping may make your lawn and garden look nice, but all that maintenance isn’t necessarily great for the environment. With some eco-friendly advice and know-how, you can help homeowners make their yards literally and figuratively greener. Try using drought-resistant plants and strategically placed trees for a lawn that saves water, energy, and money.
Whether big or small, meetings and events can generate large amounts of waste and consume valuable resources. Green event planners use their expertise and event-planning skills to find eco-friendly venues, materials and accommodations.
Whether you’re planning a corporate event or a small party, sustainable event management benefits more than just the planet. There are financial advantages — plus it generates a positive image for event organizers, vendors and stakeholders while raising awareness and inspiring change in the community.
Biking short distances instead of driving is better for the environment and your health. Like most transportation modes, bicycles occasionally need a tune-up.
You could be the expert cyclists come to when their bikes need repairing or maintenance. If you have some extra space, you could purchase inexpensive older bikes, fix them up, and sell them for a profit.
Soaps, cosmetics and cleaning products are just a few of the household items 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. However, if you package and sell these items in sets, your customers conveniently have those all-natural products at their fingertips. Local markets and events are excellent places to sell your products, or you can sell them online.
Are you an expert on green living? Start an eco-consulting service. Eco-consultants evaluate homes and offer solutions to make them more environmentally friendly.
You could advise clients on switching their home appliances to more energy-efficient machines or implementing a recycling program. To further boost your credibility, become a certified eco-consultant.
Thanks to the organic movement, those with a green thumb have a golden opportunity to earn money by selling non-GMO, pesticide-free produce at their local farmers market.
Selling naturally grown fruits and vegetables gives you a distinct advantage over competing growers who use conventional farming methods, including pesticides. Note that you may have to be approved or certified by your local board of health before you can begin selling.
For working parents, cleaning the house can be at the bottom of the to-do list. Market yourself as the green solution to their housekeeping woes by offering services that range 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 service packages for a flat fee. Remember, your clients are giving you access to their homes. Build a trustworthy reputation with people you know first before advertising to strangers.
Don’t throw out your old, broken furniture. With basic templates and access to power tools, you can break down and reassemble chairs, tables and dressers into new pieces you can paint and sell. Shelving and storage units are easy to make from wood scraps. Depending on the item, you might even be able to fully restore a unique and valuable piece of furniture.
Alternatively, you could reupholster old chairs and couches to give them new life, and start an online resale business to market and sell your products
Want to run a business with a solid brand and customer base already in place? Opening a franchise might be the answer. While franchising might call to mind fast-food joints and hotel chains, there are many eco-friendly franchise businesses and franchises for every budget.
New things are typically expensive, and pretty soon, those costs add up. For example, a new book could cost $15 to $30, while a used book usually costs only a few dollars.
Opening a secondhand store saves your customers money and is better for the environment. Encourage consumers to donate their gently used items to you instead of tossing them in the trash so another person can get value from them. You can sell used clothes, coats, books, kitchen appliances and furniture.
Green consulting is similar to eco-consulting but has a business focus. Whether it means cutting energy costs or reducing their carbon footprint, the pressure for businesses to make sustainability part of their business model is enormous, and that pressure is only going to grow.
Business sustainability consultant Barbara Englehart said there are numerous benefits for companies that go green, including reduced costs, risks and liabilities as well as increased employee retention and productivity.
“This is all [relatively] new in the business world, and companies need help,” Englehart explained. “They weren’t teaching sustainability in business schools five or 10 years ago.”
Many green-minded homeowners have installed solar panels on their homes, and many more would like to do so. If you know how to do this, offer this service in your area.
Common industrial cleaning products contain chemicals that contribute to pollution and can harm people. Starting an eco-friendly office cleaning business counters this problem. Your eco-friendly business can exclusively use nontoxic products or brands that minimize their use of single-use plastics. You can further decrease your company’s environmental impact by reusing greywater whenever possible. As a bonus, your client businesses can feel good about contracting with your services.
Single-use plastics are indisputably a leading cause for concern among environmentalists. Offer people a way to drink water on the go without contributing to plastic pollution by launching a green industry business that designs, produces and sells reusable bottles. Explore alternative materials like metal or glass, bottles made from recycled plastic, or renewable plastics from materials like cornstarch or sawdust.
Many people aren’t aware of the carbon emissions their daily activities produce and the impact those activities have on the environment. Offer classes to educate the public about how driving, using air conditioning in the summer, leaving lights on unnecessarily, flying and other activities contribute to carbon emissions. You can also teach people how to reduce the environmental impact of these activities.
Chances are that your town’s department of public works oversees a public recycling program. However, many experts say that what you put in your recycling bin doesn’t always get recycled. Some municipalities don’t accept all types of recyclable containers, while others may not thoroughly sort the collected recycling. Open an eco-friendly local recycling business to guarantee your community that their goods are recycled.
Great reasons to start a green business include the following:
A green industry business uses sustainable materials to make its products. Green industry businesses aim to use as little water, energy and raw materials as possible while cutting carbon emissions, or they use these materials in renewable and eco-friendly ways. This business approach minimizes the company’s strain on natural resources and contributions to climate change. In some cases, if waste is generated, it is reused as energy or raw material.
With a traditional business model, a company outlines raw material budgets, design processes, and service delivery or product distribution methods. A green business model ensures ample revenue while prioritizing minimal environmental impact over maximum profit. It may involve the restricted use of fossil fuels while emphasizing power supplied by solar panels, as well as other approaches to drastically reduce energy consumption.
As consumers have come to care about corporate social responsibility, a greater number of green businesses have emerged. However, the problems that climate change poses require many solutions. Thus, to start a green business, identify an eco-friendly service that no one in your market currently offers. Next, think of similarly eco-minded people who can join your team.
As you launch your green business, change your lifestyle to reflect its values and services.
Green business ideas can be great business ideas that merge sustainability and profit. This list is just a start. Get creative and even merge business ideas to create unique companies that provide one-of-a-kind green services. For example, you can offer recycling or donation alongside your professional organizing services. This way, once you’ve organized your clients’ homes, you ensure that whatever they’re not using anymore doesn’t go into a landfill. If you have a passion for protecting the environment, anything is possible.
Sammi Caramela contributed to this article.