It’s a great time to start an eco friendly business! I know, most of the economic news is doom and gloom these days. But according to the Kauffman Foundation, half of the companies listed on the Fortune 500 list started during a recession. The recession may be officially over, but nobody questions we are still in some hard times. So we are in an ideal environment for getting down to business: unemployment is high and the demand for green products and services is growing. There is no better time to develop your green business ideas.
Of course, choosing the right business depends on your experience, local demand, and your interests. So here are some ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
If you’re passionate about food, you’re not alone. There is an increasing demand for local, organic, fair trade food options.
- Start a mobile coffee stand selling Fairtrade organic coffee at events or markets.
- Flare for cooking? Start an organic, local food catering business.
- Become a dietary consultant, and help people change their pantries over to local, nutritious and organic food choices.
- Refurbishing bicycles is a great way to make some money and recycle old bikes.
- Start a non-profit group that promotes alternative means of transportation.
- Set up a bike-share or car-share program in your community.
Fashion and Shopping
- Have a flare for fashion? Design eco shoes or organic clothing options for babies and kids. Turn second-hand store finds and other used materials into new fashionable originals. Sell them online.
- Sell natural make-up and body care products.
- Develop an online retail store for selling everyday sustainable products such as household cleaners, reusable water bottles, or green grocery bags.
- Start a sewing and alteration business out of your home to help extend the life of clothes.
- Start a green housecleaning or janitorial service. Use only Earth-friendly cleaning products.
- Green event management–help organizations ensure their events are green by looking at venue, catering, products etc. Green events offer a great marketing angle too.
- Start a green Bed and Breakfast inn (B&B) out of your home. Use green cleaning products and local produce for meals. Launder towels only upon specific guest request. Again, it’s a marketing angle that will set you aside from others and be gentle on the planet at the same time.
- Eco friendly interior design – you just might want to have some design training for this, of course, but it’s an opportunity to look into sourcing sustainable and fair trade materials and furniture.
- Salvage unwanted things and put them to good use. There are people out there making all sorts of things out there from other people’s junk. Bike trailers, furniture, art, clothes…you name it. If can’t think of something to make, maybe just become an expert in salvaging and provide the materials to others.
Home and Garden
- Green construction – If you have any training in construction there is a whole world of opportunities out there. People are looking for ways to green their homes and improve efficiency of their homes. Green business ideas here include: duct cleaning and repair, weatherization or other green retrofitting possibilities, cool roofing, and green roof construction.
- Conduct energy audits – provide a consulting service that advises people where they can make improvements to the efficiency of their home (but check local rules for any restrictions).
- Start a green gardening or landscaping business that uses permaculture and organic gardening principles. The concept of edible landscapes has certainly taken off, as has the idea of converting water- and chemical-sucking grass into flower and vegetable gardens.
Franchise/affiliate green business opportunities
There are a number of businesses out there that offer franchise or affiliate opportunities. However, do your research because while some may be tried and true award-winning formulas for having your own successful green business, others may ask for a lot of money up front with little to offer in return. Here are some, in no particular order, that I’ve come across in my research (my listing does not imply an endorsement):
- Green Irene – Sells green products for your home and workplace and offers opportunities to become a consultant using their products.
- NaturaLawn of America – People who care for lawns using natural and organic-based products. They offer a comprehensive training program.
- PHSI – Provide pure water technology for offices. They provide the marketing materials, sales training and technical support for you to start selling their water purification systems.
- Zola – Zola sells a number of environmentally friendly products including cleaning supplies, jewelry, gift wrap, games, green grocery bags, and lunch kits. The idea is that you host parties similar to the Tupperware parties of yesteryear.
- OnlyGreen4Me – This company sells green products for the office and home, from printers to water filtration systems. They offer opportunities to become a dealer and open an e-store.
- Oxxo Care Cleaners – Offers a green dry cleaning service.
- Environmental Waste Solutions — Offer training to enable you to run your own consultancy in getting businesses to cut waste disposal and recycling costs. They (and perhaps you) are helping businesses go green.
- Natural Awakenings Magazine — Become your own magazine publisher.
- Cartridge World — Provide a way for people to recycle their cartridges, and to buy refilled ones.
- Drysdale’s – Start a chemical-free carpet cleaning service.
- USA Solar Store — Open a store that sells renewable energy and energy efficiency products that are tailored to the needs of your community.
- DetailXPerts — Open a car wash business that uses an eco friendlier steam-based approach, using less chemicals and water.
If you haven’t found any green business ideas that strike your fancy, cruise the National Green Pages website for a list of eco friendly businesses. You are bound to get some ideas. Good luck!