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.

Green business ideas for eco-minded entrepreneurs

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.

1. Ink refill business

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.

2. Environmental publications

graphic of a man typing on a laptop at a desk

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. 

Start your environmental publication by creating a blog or email newsletter and letting it build traction.

3. Green finance

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.

SBA loans can help launch your green endeavor. For example, SBA 504 loans are intended for community projects, which creates a way to intertwine monetary and social profitability.

4. Eco-friendly retail

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.

5. Sustainable construction materials

graphic of two colleagues talking over architectural drawings and models

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.

6. Organic catering

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.

7. Eco-friendly beauty salon

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.

Choosing the right business location for your salon is crucial. Conduct research to understand area demographics, potential foot traffic and nearby competitors.

8. Eco-friendly landscaping

graphic of a gardener in an apron holding a green leafed plant

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.

Landscaping is also a business you can start quickly if you want to get your venture up and running right away.

9. Sustainable event planning

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.

10. Bicycle repair and refurbishing

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.

According to University of Oxford research, replacing one of your car trips per day with a bike trip can lower your carbon emissions by 67 percent. Consumers interested in ending their commute are exactly the right audience for your bicycle repair and refurbishing businesses.

11. Handmade, all-natural and organic products

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. 

12. Eco-consulting

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.

13. Farmers market vendor

graphic of a farmers market vendor

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.

14. Green housekeeping services

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.

15. Upcycled furniture

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

Scour Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay to find old furniture to upcycle.

16. Green franchises

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.

17. Secondhand store

graphic of a cashier in a clothing store

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. 

18. Green consulting

graphic of two people talking at a table next to a photo of a windmill

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.” 

19. Solar panel installation

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.

20. Eco-friendly office cleaning

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.

21. Reusable plastic bottles

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.

22. Environmental impact and carbon emissions lessons

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.

23. Local eco-friendly recycling business

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.

Enhance your recycling business by refurbishing old technology like computers and printers.

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