18 Green Business Ideas for Eco-Minded Entrepreneurs

Start a business, save the planet Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

Ready to start a business but worried about the impact it might have on the environment? If protecting Mother Nature is what you've got in mind, you're in luck: More and more consumers are turning to eco-friendly alternatives to their favorite products and services, and more and more businesses are going green as a result. Need some organic inspiration? Check out these eco-friendly business ideas perfect for nature-conscious entrepreneurs.

Eco-friendly retail Credit: zaozaa19/Shutterstock
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 ranging from nontoxic paint to 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 Credit: Mr.Boy/Shutterstock
You might not think of construction as being 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 Credit: OMolleker/Shutterstock
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 using plastic and paper goods as much as possible and composting food waste. And if you already own a catering company, switching to organic, eco-friendly foods could be a great way to boost business.
Eco-friendly beauty salon Credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock
With more and more consumers becoming aware of the foods they're eating, the products they put on their bodies and the impact they have on the environment, it's no surprise that people are looking for natural alternatives to their favorite beauty products. Organic and vegan beauty products — from soaps to shampoos to makeup — 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. If cosmetology is your passion, start a beauty business that's Mother Nature approved.
Organic or recycled fashion Credit: Fabric image via Shutterstock
Organic cotton, reused fabric scraps and evenplastic bottles can all be starting points for a green fashion line. You can create silk screen artwork on eco-friendly T-shirts, or design handbags and accessories made of recycled materials. Many distributors brand themselves as "organic," "fair trade" and "eco-friendly," so do your research on their practices to make sure you're sourcing your fabrics from reputable organizations.
Green app developer Credit: Mobile app image via Shutterstock
Want to help others help themselves go green? Build an app. From reference guides to activity trackers and games, green-app developers can create apps to help users learn more about going green and guide them toward achieving their sustainable lifestyle goals. Your app can cover green living as a whole or focus on niche areas — such as energy conservation; recycling and upcycling; eco-friendly products, and green living — at home or at work. It can be as simple as an app listing local green businesses, or something complex and interactive that users can enjoy on a day-to-day basis. You can also build educational apps to teach children about going green and help them grow up to be environmentally conscious citizens.
Eco-friendly landscaping Credit: Landscaping image via Shutterstock
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 Credit: Event planning image via Shutterstock
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 help curb the effects that meetings and events have 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.
Air duct cleaning Credit: Air duct cleaning image via Shutterstock
Dust, debris and other particulates that collect in ventilation systems can make a home much less energy-efficient. Help homeowners save money, gas and electricity by cleaning out their air ducts. You may need to purchase some equipment to get started if you don't have a portable vacuum, and a strong working knowledge of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is a must. Spring is a great time for this business: Seasonal allergy sufferers will be more than happy to pay you to remove allergens from their air ducts.
Bicycle repair and refurbishing Credit: Bicycle image via Shutterstock
Biking, instead of driving, short distances 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 Credit: Organic tag image via Shutterstock
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 Credit: Eco-friendly image via Shutterstock
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.
Green waste management Credit: Broken keyboard image via Shutterstock
Most homeowners have pickup bins for standard recyclables like paper, glass and plastic, but they often don't make the effort to properly recycle electronics and batteries, which can be extremely harmful to the environment when left in landfills. Offer to pick up all the e-waste that's been collecting in their garages — old televisions, broken laptops, defunct cellphones — and bring them to your local electronic recycling facility. Charge per item, by weight or a flat fee plus travel to and from the location.

Trash compacting is another type of business helping to take the waste out of the waste management industry. In the U.S. alone, garbage trucks consume roughly 1 billion gallons (3.7 billion liters) of diesel fuel every year, according to InformInc. Companies like Bigbelly Solar are working to change that by using solar-powered trash compactors that reduce the frequency of collections, thereby also reducing emissions and fuel consumption. Trash compactors also reduce litter overflow, a common problem among public trash receptacles.

Farmers market vendor Credit: Farmer image via Shutterstock
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 Credit: House cleaning image via Shutterstock
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.
Composting Credit: Soil image via Shutterstock
Home gardeners in urban areas or with smaller properties don't often have the space to start their own compost pile. If you can spare a corner of your own yard, you can create and sell compost to local green thumbs. It's a messy business (you're dealing with food scraps, lawn trimmings and worms, after all), but there's high demand for this all-natural fertilizer among organic gardeners. Farmers markets and community supported agriculture (CSA) organizations will often purchase compost in bulk and distribute it, or you can sell directly to consumers. Visit Eartheasy for composting tips.
'Upcycled' furniture Credit: Shelves image via Shutterstock
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 Credit: Franchise Image via Shutterstock

Want to run an established 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, there are quite a few eco-friendly businesses that are willing to sell you your own branch. Visit Green Franchise Directory for a list of opportunities.

Additional reporting by Adam C. Uzialko.

Category: Business ideas

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