If you are looking to start an eco-friendly business, I have started a series of articles for your inspiration. Review these ideas, if you are looking to have an impact while making your living. None of them are revolutionary, but they are good options for an environmentally friendly person to get involved with.
Over the years, I have observed many companies from small one-person operations to big companies employing many people having the opportunity to help the environment and at the same time change their own life and life of other people.
In the previous posts we covered businesses related to recycling and to upcycling, you can check them out here:
To add to these, I will mention other eco-friendly business ideas to think about. Some of them are better if you started them in a big city. Some would probably work best in the countryside, and some can be done from anywhere. Can you find here something that inspires you?
- Ugly produce restaurant
- Organic farm
- Packaging-free store
- Eco-friendly fair
- Start a Cooperative
- Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
- Eco-friendly cleaning business
- Cloth diapers
- Bicycle delivery/courier services
- Bicycle Tours
FOOD RELATED eco-friendly businesses
“Ugly produce” restaurant or food business
One of the environmental issues that might be less visible and less talked about is food waste. In different sources, you can learn that around ⅓ of the food produced around the world is wasted. By wasted, I mean most of it is shamelessly thrown away because of the beauty standards of the food industry.
A big part of the produce doesn’t make it from the farm to the consumer because it is not pretty. You can clearly see this when you look around the produce aisle. All the tomatoes are the same size, shape, color. This really is not how all the tomatoes look like. The ones that were smaller or too big, had stains or were a bit discolored, or had any other kind of imperfection. Those tomatoes either never left the farm or were discarded later on in the distribution chain.
The ugly fruit and vegetables are as healthy, tasty, and nutritious as the pretty ones. They are just not given the chance. Many people, NGOs, and businesses have already started to face and fight this problem. You could help too.
By collaborating with local farms and buying out the ugly produce, you could start a food-related business like a restaurant, smoothie bar, or similar. You would mostly or exclusively use ingredients discarded because of the beauty standards. If you do good marketing around it, people will happily support the cause.
Starting an organic farm might be a bigger operation. You will need land, equipment, and knowledge, and you will need to put in a lot of work. But it might be perfect for people who already know a lot about farming, and want to practice better agriculture.
Conventional farms use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other products to increase their fertility. But there are natural methods that are much more effective at boosting the fertility of the soil and not contaminating the environment.
Organic farming and regenerative agriculture can help mitigate some climate change effects while feeding the population, producing healthier and more nutritious food.
Another great initiative is to start a packaging-free grocery store (zero-waste store, bulk store, etc.). One usual trip to the supermarket means unnecessary packaging brought into your home. And many people would gladly do their part by buying in a packaging-free store if they had one handy.
Packaging-free stores offer a wide variety of groceries sold by weight in your own packaging. You can shop in mason jars, reusable cloth bags, or recycled paper bags. Usually, they have a selection of grains and flours, cereals, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, pasta, rice, legumes and beans, coffee, tea and herbal tea, spices.
They usually also sell oil, vinegar, and other liquid ingredients in your own bottle. Many of these stores will even sell detergents and other cleaning products, shampoos, liquid soap, and other toiletries. I personally do not go to the supermarket anymore, because there is nothing I can’t get from the packaging-free store and a farmers market.
If your city or local area lacks places where to source and buy eco-friendly products, you could start a local eco-friendly fair where you can gather smaller and bigger local companies that offer all kinds of sustainable products related to food, home supplies, toys, cleaning products, etc.
You could organize one fair every weekend rotating different locations in the city to offer better products to more people.
Start a Cooperative
A variation to a packaging-free store is to start a cooperative. It is the same idea of sourcing groceries, cleaning products, and toiletries in bulk so the members can buy basic ingredients without all that annoying packaging.
Rather than a private company, cooperatives are usually founded by more people with the same goals. All the decisions are made between all the members.
Some cooperatives actually work as a mixed model. They have a member base who can access the products with a discounted price but is open to selling the products to the public which is how they make a profit.
CLEANING RELATED eco-friendly businesses
Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
The demand for eco-friendly products is rising each year, and there are many industries that do not offer a wide of variety locally made eco-friendly alternatives.
One of these is eco-friendly cleaning products. There are only a handful of companies that produce eco-friendly cleaning products locally. Therefore better cleaning products must be transported around the world to meet the demand. All that shipping is adding to the carbon footprint of these products.
Wouldn’t it be much better if quality green products were produced locally and didn’t need to be shipped from faraway places?
Granted, this is not a business you could start with no knowledge, but there are still ways of how to make this work even if you do not have the knowledge right now. You can think of buying a franchise, offering another company to run their factory in your area, hiring someone who already has the knowledge, or finding a way to learn by yourself.
Eco-friendly cleaning business
If you like the idea of eco-friendly cleaning products, but you don’t want to have a production factory, you could start an eco-friendly cleaning service for local companies.
Many companies want to adopt eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives. They enroll in recycling programs, organize employees to volunteer for an environmental cause, etc. Many of them would gladly hire a cleaning company that doesn’t use any toxic cleaning products, and only uses non-toxic, biodegradable products that are better for the environment and healthier for the employees.
Another business that is kind of related to cleaning and will have a big impact on the amount of trash sent to the landfills is to focus on promoting the use of cloth diapers.
Conventional diapers pollute our planet, imagine that each baby uses on average 8-10 diapers a day, which is around 3500 diapers a year. Moreover, conventional diapers use diverse chemicals to improve the absorption of the diaper. Switching to cloth diapers we can avoid all this trash and chemicals ending up in the landfills.
You could either be a cloth diapers manufacturer or source all the cloth diapering necessities and accessories and resell them in an online or brick and mortar store.
CLEAN TRANSPORT eco-friendly businesses
Bicycle delivery/courier services
Delivery services have been on the rise in the last few years and months, but many of them are focused mostly on food and groceries. Companies that need to deliver small packages around the town have to rely on traditional courier services.
You could start a delivery and courier service company in your town with an eco-friendly twist, such as delivering only by bike or another green transportation such as electric bikes or scooters.
These services already operate in many cities and use special bikes adapted to carry smaller and bigger packages. The companies looking to lower their environmental impact might be interested in changing to a provider who doesn’t add to the air pollution in their city.
If you live in a touristy city, you could think about starting a company that provides bicycle tours for tourists around the city. You would be able to show much more than on a walking tour, but offer a greener and healthier option than transporting the tourists by bus.
I hope you could find an inspiration here. If not, you can check my previous articles where I talk about recycling and upcycling eco-friendly business ideas: