What’s a Green 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.
Sustainable and green 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 sustainable and green business ideas.
39 Green Business Ideas
Here are 39 sustainable business ideas for you to consider if you want to go green.
1. Energy Auditing and Green Consulting
Work with businesses or individuals to help them implement strategies to reduce their carbon footprint.
2. Garden Planning
Landscape eco-friendly, sustainable gardens for families and businesses to feed themselves.
3. Environmental Law
Provide legal services to protect the environment or hold entities accountable for violating environmental laws.
4. Composting Business
Provide a service to pick up compost or a place to drop it off.
5. Green Cleaning
Use eco-friendly products to clean homes and businesses.
6. 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.
7. Fundraiser or Grant Writer
Many environmental organizations could use help getting funding. Start a career as a freelance grant writer to help them out.
8. Eco-Friendly Food Supplier
Deliver food from local sources to people or businesses who need them. Farm-to-table restaurants are some of the businesses that you could help supply.
9. Eco Restaurants
Open a restaurant that uses only locally sourced food and sustainable products and processes.
10. Organic Nutritionist
This is a powerful sustainable business idea. Help people eat clean—it’s better for their health and our earth.
11. Wind Power Development
Build wind farms that produce sustainable energy.
12. 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.
13. Solar Panel Manufacturer
Produce the energy-saving panels for homes and businesses.
14. Plant Delivery Service
Start an eco-friendly small business that sources and delivers plants to people or businesses that will help clean the air around them.
15. Open a Used Bookstore
Recycle old and gently books for a fraction of the price. You could do this either online or in-person with a brick-and-mortar location.
16. Green Gift Shop
As mentioned earlier, green products are a selling point. Why not open a store full of them?
17. 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.
18. Sell Scooters
While scooters do emit carbon dioxide, they are much more energy-efficient than cars.
19. Energy-Efficient Car Sales
Of course, people still want to drive cars. Why not sell more environmentally friendly car options?
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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, you could start a green business advertising agency.
24. Give Bicycle Tours
This is a great sustainable business idea for bicycle enthusiasts! Bike tours in your city are way more environmentally friendly than big ole bus tours or long joy rides.
25. Eco-Travel Planner
Plan eco-friendly travel destinations and activities for tourists.
26. Sustainable Events Planner
Offer event planning services that guarantee a reduced carbon footprint from the event.
27. Open an Organic Spa
Harsh chemicals are bad for your skin just as they are for the environment.
28. Recycled Furniture and Home Goods
Use recycled materials to build furniture and home goods people use in their everyday lives. Or open an antique shop reselling older furniture or refurbishing it and reselling it.
29. 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 for their kids.
30. Handmade Clothing
If you’ve got a knack for sewing you can sell your handmade clothing online. A bonus if it’s from recycled materials.
31. Green Remodeling
Green remodeling is the perfect green business idea for the handy entrepreneur. Take a worn down home and make it something new using sustainable materials and updated appliances that reduce carbon footprints.
32. Green Architecture
Design new homes using sustainable methods.
33. Solar Panel Installation
Install solar panels for sustainable energy in homes or businesses.
34. Start a Cooperative
Communal living easily reduces the carbon footprints of those living in them because everything is shared and the values of the building uphold sustainability.
35. Green Venture Capitalist
Invest in helping other people get their green business ideas off the ground.
36. Green Financial Planning
Sell “green bonds” to those looking to add environmentally conscious businesses to their portfolio.
Build software programs made specifically to help businesses or individuals with environmental activities and initiatives.
Develop mobile apps designed to help people with environmentally friendly functions, like finding recycling centers or learning about the environmental practices of different brands.
39. Refurbish/Recycle Tech
Take people’s old and unused technology and recycle the parts or make something new.
Hopefully, these green 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.
Benefits of Starting a Sustainable Business
Green and sustainable business ideas deliver more than profits. Beyond the feel-good impact that comes with making the world a better place, environmentally conscious and green 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 to 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 sustainable 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 Sustainable Business Idea
There’s never been a better time to launch a green or sustainable 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 looking for green business ideas you can do your part and start an environmentally conscious business.
- Nielson.com. “Consumer-Goods’ Brands that Demonstrate Commitment to Sustainability Outperform Those That Don’t“
- Nielson.com. “The Sustainability Imperative“
- GreenBiz.com. “The State of Green Business, 2017“
- EPA.gov. “Climate Change Indicators in the United States“
Meredith Wood is a small business owner, the editor-at-large at JustBusiness, and VP at Fundera.
Meredith is the founding editor of Fundera and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for close to a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and has contributed to or been featured in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, Fortune, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and more.