What’s an Eco-Friendly Small Business?
An eco-friendly business, or “green business” is one that demonstrates a commitment to an environmentally sustainable future. Green businesses strive to have a positive impact on the environment and their community. This can be achieved through many practices and strategies, from recycling to sourcing local products to promoting energy efficiency.
Eco-friendly small business ideas combine your commitment to the environment with your goal of starting a business. Beyond that, they also deliver on revenue and profit. A study by Nielsen revealed that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. If you want to launch a green business, get started with this video containing our top eco-friendly small business ideas for 2020.
Benefits of Starting an Eco-Friendly Business
Eco-friendly small businesses deliver more than profits. But beyond the feel-good impact that comes with making the world a better place, environmentally conscious businesses cater to a rapidly growing market.
“Despite the fact that millennials are coming of age in one of the most difficult economic climates in the past 100 years,” according to a recent Nielsen global online study, “they continue to be most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings—almost three-out-of-four respondents in the latest findings.”
Generation Z does not want to be left behind either: The rise in the percentage of respondents ages 15–20 who are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact hovered around 72%.
Businesses that establish eco-friendly or green values or practices have an opportunity to grow market share and build loyalty among consumers now and in the future.
Now Is the Time to Pursue Your Eco-Friendly Small Business Idea
There’s never been a better time to launch an eco-friendly small business. We’ve undoubtedly seen a ton of change in the last year toward climate solutions and policy, especially as the implications of the Paris Agreement reverberated through businesses, industries, and investors.
“Companies continued to ratchet up their commitments and achievements on renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable supply chains, water and land stewardship, the circular economy, and other aspects of a sustainable enterprise,” according to GreenBiz. “Technology continued its inexorable march, accelerating sustainability solutions in energy, buildings, transportation, food, and just about everywhere else.”
However, global indicators continue to trend in troubling directions. Concentrations of carbon dioxide are unprecedented compared with the past 800,000 years according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, even after accounting for natural fluctuations. Global temperatures continue to rise, and other metrics—on coastal flooding, heat-related deaths, wildfires, polar sea ice, biodiversity, and more—are just as harrowing.
Suffice it to say that we have a major challenge on our hands. Of course, no one is going to solve climate change on their own. But if you’re thinking of starting an eco-friendly small business, you can at least do your part to start an environmentally conscious business. See below for ideas on eco-friendly businesses you could start in the next year.
39 Eco-Friendly Small Business Ideas
Home and Business Services
- Energy auditing and green consulting: Work with businesses or individuals to help them implement strategies to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Urban garden planning: Landscape eco-friendly, sustainable gardens for families and businesses to feed themselves.
- Environmental law: Provide legal services to protect the environment or hold entities accountable for violating environmental laws.
- Composting business: Provide a service to pick up people’s compost or a place to drop it off.
- Green cleaning: Use eco-friendly products to clean homes and businesses
- Air duct cleaning: Dust and dirt can easily accumulate in air ducts, preventing the air conditioning system from working properly and thereby increasing energy consumption. Start an eco-friendly small business that serves to regularly clean air ducts to reduce energy consumption.
- Fundraiser or grant writer: Many environmental organizations could use help getting funding. Start up a career as a freelance grant writer to help them out.
- Eco-friendly food supplier: Deliver food from local sources to people or businesses who need them.
- Eco restaurants: Open a restaurant that uses only locally sourced food and eco-friendly products and processes.
- Organic nutritionist: This is a powerful eco-friendly small business idea. Help people eat clean—it’s better for their health and our earth.
- Wind power development: Build wind farms that produce sustainable energy.
- Geothermal developer: Build power plants that use steam produced from reservoirs of hot water found a couple of miles or more below the Earth’s surface.
- Solar panel manufacturer: Produce the energy-saving panels for homes and businesses.
- Plant delivery service: Start an eco-friendly small business that sources and deliver plants to people or businesses that will help clean the air around them.
- Open a used bookstore: Recycle old, unwanted books for a fraction of the price.
- Green gift shop: As mentioned earlier, green products are a selling point. Why not open a store full of them?
- Sell bicycles: One way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce the number of people driving cars. One way to do that is by encouraging more people to ride bicycles.
- Sell scooters: While scooters do emit carbon dioxide, they are much more energy efficient than cars.
- Energy efficient car sales: Of course, people still want to drive cars. Why not sell more environmentally friendly car options?
- Open a consignment or thrift store: How many clothes do you get rid of each year? Recycling old clothes is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint of each clothing item so they don’t go to waste.
- Manufacture or sell eco-friendly fashion design: Many designers are making clothing from sustainable materials. You could be one of them, or you could sell them.
Media and Publishing
- Environmental blog: Publish information and news about climate change and subjects of interest to the environment. Reap advertising payouts from your visitors while informing the public.
- Advertising agency specializing in green business: With all the new green businesses and initiatives forming, they’re going to need someone to know how to bring all the good they’re doing to a large audience.
Hospitality and Ecotourism
- Give bicycle tours: This is a great eco-friendly small business idea for bicycle enthusiasts! Bike tours in your city are way more environmentally friendly than big ole bus tours or long joy rides.
- Eco-travel planner: Plan eco-friendly travel destinations and activities for tourists
- Sustainable events planner: Offer event planning services that guarantee a reduced carbon footprint from the event.
- Open an organic spa: Harsh chemicals are just as bad for your skin as they are for the environment.
- Recycled furniture and home goods: Use recycled materials to build furniture and home goods people use in their everyday lives.
- Eco-friendly kids toys: A great eco-friendly small business idea for parents. Mainstream children’s toys use a ton of unsustainable materials. Why not give parents an environmentally conscious option they can pass on to their kids?
- Handmade clothing: Sell your handmade clothing online. A bonus if it’s from recycled materials.
- Green remodeling: Perfect eco-friendly small business for the handy entrepreneur. Take a worn down home and make it something new using sustainable materials and updated appliances that reduce carbon footprints.
- Green architecture: Design new homes using sustainable methods.
- Solar panel installation: Install solar panels for sustainable energy in homes or businesses.
- Start a cooperative: Communal living easily reduces carbon footprints of those living in them because everything is shared and values of the building uphold sustainability.
- Green venture capitalist: Invest in getting green businesses off the ground.
- Green financial planning: Sell “green bonds” to those looking to add environmentally conscious businesses to their portfolio.
- Software: Build software programs made specifically to help businesses or individuals with environmental activities and initiatives.
- Apps: Develop mobile apps designed to help people with environmentally friendly functions, like finding recycling centers or learning about the environmental practices of different brands.
- Refurbish/recycle tech: Take people’s old and unused technology and recycle the parts or make something new.
Hopefully, these eco-friendly small business ideas have you excited about the possibilities—not only for profit but the pleasure of running a business that helps people lead greener lives and combining what you do with what you believe in. A value-led company is attractive to consumers—why not create one?
If your next step is figuring out how to get funding for your business, check out our comprehensive guide on financing for eco-friendly businesses.