Start a business, save the planet
We've outlined 17 eco-friendly business ideas for making money and saving the planet at the same time.
Ink refill business
As opposed to more conventional companies in the world of finance, green finance is preoccupied with social profitability. While monetary profit remains important, the goal of green finance is to support beneficial projects that provide value to the local community and ecology. In fact, green financial institutions can fill a void to realize a positive project that otherwise would not exist that truly benefits the community.
Besides 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. If you're considering opening a retail store, consider partnering with a company that has similar motives and values as you and your customers.
Sustainable construction materials
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.
Be sure, though, to minimize the impact to the environment by avoiding plastic and paper goods as much as possible and composting food waste.
Eco-friendly beauty salon
Sustainable event planning
Sustainable event management benefits more than just the planet. According to the United Nations Environment Programme's Sustainable Event Guide, 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.
Bicycle repair and refurbishing
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 then sell them for a profit.
Handmade all-natural/organic products
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 conveniently have those all-natural products at their fingertips. Local markets and events are a good place to sell, or you could start an online store.
You could advise clients on switching their home appliances to more energy efficient machines or implement a recycling program. To further boost your credibility, become a certified eco-consultant.
Farmers market vendor
Selling naturally grown fruits and vegetables gives you a distinct advantage over competing growers who use conventional methods. You may have to be approved and/or get certified by your local board of health first before you can begin selling.
Green housekeeping services
Charge an hourly rate or create your own 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.
Alternatively, you could reupholster old chairs and couches, giving them a new life. Buying secondhand doesn't just save money, it also helps the environment.
Opening a secondhand store not only saves your customers money, it's better for the environment. Instead of tossing a perfectly good item into the trash, encourage consumers to donate their used items to you so another person can get value out of that item. You can sell used clothes, coats, books, kitchen appliances and furniture.
Additional reporting by Saige Driver, Adam C. Uzialko and Nicole Fallon.