Kickstarting an eco-conscious business is a long-term commitment to a sustainable future. It’s gratifying to launch an environmentally friendly company because you are helping make the world a less toxic place.
“For green entrepreneurs, passion is the key,” says Mary Bemis, an environmental entrepreneur and a member of the Green Spa Network in Atlanta. “Consumers are just as hungry for knowledge as they are for organic services and natural ingredients,” she says.
Doing the right thing still needs to be profitable and scalable to affect change.
Consumers Will Pay More for Natural Products
Consumer demand for eco-friendly goods and services is booming and has quadrupled in the last decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, small green businesses have grown four times faster than most other industries.
“To stand out from the crowd, understand the significance of your unique product and how it benefits the earth or conserves resources,” says Bemis. “Businesses that establish eco-friendly values have greater opportunities to grow market share and build loyalty among educated consumers.”
People will basically pay a little more to go green, research shows.
11 Innovative and Eco-Friendly Business Ideas
Our top picks for your new eco-business:
1. Composting Company
Americans waste more than 150,000 pounds of food every day, research shows. Composting takes uneaten food and essentially turns it into nutrient-dense soil boosters. A composting company can collect food waste that businesses or households have saved and put it to good use in gardens, nurseries and local farms.
2. Organic Catering and Delivery
As the population becomes more aware of the benefits of organic farming, the demand for environmentally friendly business ideas continues to rise. Organic catering prepares and delivers healthy food daily or weekly from local sources to people or small businesses who need them.
3. Smoothie Bar
Juice and smoothie bars are part of a larger trend in quick, grab-and-go green drinks which cater to health-focused consumers in gyms, natural food stores and nutrition shops. (Plus, composters would love to get their hands on the scraps you have left over.)
4. Recycling Reinventions
Some years ago, one of the most innovative green business ideas was a vending machine in Europe that allowed people to recycle empty bottles. Instead of getting a coin back, the deposit went directly to feeding stray dogs from the very same vending machine. Not only did the thoughtful practice provide food to homeless dogs, it encouraged people to recycle.
5. Nontoxic Textiles
The fabrics we live with contain a ton of chemicals—from formaldehyde to PBDEs and other fire retardants. They pose a risk to our health and the environment. Many designers are now making clothing from sustainable fabrics, and bypassing chemicals. The same goes for manufacturers, making this a lucrative eco-friendly business to consider.
6. Old Clothes, New Business
How green is it to dress vintage? Very. Much like upcycling furniture, getting more wear-and-tear from gently used clothing can breathe new life into faded fabrics — and the environment — by displacing the need to make new virgin fibers.
7. Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
Conventional cleansers are filled with artificial fragrances and toxic chemicals. Instead, an eco-friendly small business can produce and distribute a green product for a more sustainable scrub.
8. Green App Developer
Creating a green mobile app or website can be one of the best eco-friendly technology business ideas around. Depending on your team’s capabilities, you can produce something that helps consumers find eco-friendly manufacturing businesses, food suppliers and other green providers.
9. Solar Panel Installer
As businesses look to reduce reliance on conventional energy sources, solar panel installation companies are becoming busier and more efficient. In addition, there’s a greater demand for clean energy and how solar energy will be stored in the future.
10. Electric Car Dealership
Look around at the next stoplight – electric cars are humming all around you. Explore how you might get enough capital to open a dealership that works exclusively with electric or hybrid car brands. Newfangled charging stations for electric vehicles are also becoming a popular small business.
11. A Day Spa or Salon
Beauty products are notoriously filled with chemicals and other harmful materials. Start a beauty salon or day spa which uses 100% natural and botanical products, says Bemis, who founded Organic Spa Magazine, a website and publication focusing on small sustainable spas.
Youthful markets are willing to pay more for green products and holistic services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.
“Millennials are always on the lookout for natural, plant-based ingredients that may use recycled materials for packaging, too,” says Bemis. Socially conscious businesses such as The Honest Company – pioneered by A-list actress Jennifer Alba – are focused on sourcing natural home and cosmetic ingredients from free-trade markets.