With global warming and climate change becoming worryingly worse year on year, there’s a lot to be done if we’re going to save the planet. While most of us don’t have the sort of influence on the government that we might like, there are still so many ways that we can all make a difference. We’ve talked about some of the actions that we can each take in our daily lives in some of our other posts, and while we should all do everything we can, we also all need to be able to make a living.
Given the size of the problem, and the number of solutions that could potentially help, it makes sense that there is a growing movement amongst aspiring entrepreneurs to build businesses that will benefit the planet. In this post, we’ve gathered together some great ideas, from small, local businesses that benefit the local environment, to the types of businesses that can scale dramatically and make a huge difference to the whole planet.
Tech Business Ideas
Tech businesses are generally eco-friendly in as much as they tend to be paperless offices, use less printer inks, and so on – but they’re not perfect, and there is still much to be done. There are so many opportunities for tech to help save the planet, and for you to build a business with, that we’ve put some of them down here – but don’t take our word for it, there are far, far more ideas than we can fit into one post, so if you’ve got a great idea, go for it!
Influencers are everywhere these days – they’re on social media, on YouTube, working with brands to advertise their products in a more authentic way than professionally made adverts. If you have a great personality, knowledge about the environment and how people can help, and you can create a decent following on any of the social media channels (or more than one of them!) then you can share your hints, tips, and tricks to become more environmentally friendly.
Build A Website And A Blog
If you’ve got knowledge to share about how to become more green, or perhaps you love to share informative articles about the environment, it really never has been easier to set up a website – you don’t even need to know HTML (although it can be useful if you do!). Your website and blog can be used purely for the purpose of sharing information, you might build affiliate income that you donate the proceeds to charities, or you might take payments for guest articles. You might even take it one step further and build our next suggestions in too!
Develop A Green App
For most businesses these days, an app is a must-have – which sounds expensive, especially if you don’t know anything about how to get started. Luckily, as with website building, app building has become much easier to do, with platforms to make the app quickly and simply. If you’ve got an idea for an app that can benefit the environment, this is an excellent place to start – even if you decide to ultimately work with an agency to bring your app to life. You’ll be able to get the basic structure and premise in place and your agency partner can build the more complex functionality that you need.
Build Toolbars, Themes, Or Extensions
There are so many ideas that you can create that don’t have anything to do with the environment, but that can have a huge impact – toolbars, themes, and add-ons for internet browsers and so on all can become popular and do good for the environment. It is, of course, how you use the income from what you create that has the potential to help the environment. The Ecosia search engine and toolbar is a great example of technology being used for good – they use the income generated from search activity to fund the planting of more trees. Start thinking… what could you do with your developer skills to benefit the environment?
Online Store Selling Eco-Friendly Products
Customers want to be able to find environmentally friendly options for all the products they use regularly, and if they can find them all in one place, at a great price, so much the better. We’re huge fans of reusable water bottles, beeswax wrap to replace cling film and more – and so if you can source those items, you can make the environment the focus of your business. You might not even need cash available to invest to buy stock in and store it! If you don’t intend to open any high street stores, you may be able to build this business by using the drop shipping model, where you buy items from suppliers when customers place the order.
Local Business Ideas
If you don’t want to work online, and you’re better in person, then you might decide to create a local business that specialises in eco-friendly products and services. You’d be surprised how many customers are ready to make the switch to an environmentally friendly version of a business or service they need in their home, especially if the cost is affordable and competitive with traditional versions of the service.
Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Service
We all love a clean home, but the chemicals that are sometimes used can be pretty toxic, bad for our health as well as the environment. There are many eco-friendly cleaning products on the market today, which is making the housework smell much better, and decreases the nasty side effects on both humans and wildlife.
For busy homeowners that want a clean home, but don’t want, or have time to do the chores themselves, a cleaning service is essential. If you’re a veritable Mrs Hinch, but you love the natural products that have much lower environmental impact, this can be the USP of your business. The bonus here is that if you can get your clients to love the products you use too, they’ll make the switch, helping the environment further.
Sell Organic, Local Food
If you’re a trained chef, baker, or just a massive foodie, there are likely to be countless businesses that you know of in the local area that specialise in creating and selling organic foods. This presents so many opportunities for you – from opening a shop to sell local produce in, a café, a food truck to take to events like farmers markets, festivals and so on, starting a restaurant – and many, many more. Whether you choose to specialise in a certain category of food, such as vegan, or just great, local food, it won’t just benefit the environment, it’ll benefit the people who live there too.
Become A Beekeeper
There has been concern over the past few years about the number of bees being in decline. If you have the space, and the ability to create an apiary (that’s a place where beehives are!) and to grow the right types of flowers to feed your little worker bees, then you can create a business selling raw honey, honeycomb, and beeswax. You may be able to link up with other businesses to increase the potential, such as local cafes, stores, and natural beauty product manufacturers.
Eco-Friendly Food Delivery
Takeaway food no longer has to involve plastic – there are some great compostable non-leak food containers on the market today. With this in mind, if you’re able to create a business cooking, whether it is home-made meals for the elderly, or an environmentally friendly version of a takeaway favourite, this could be a great way to show it off, serve the community and benefit the environment.
Environmental Business Ideas
Creating a business that has a direct impact on the environment is incredibly satisfying – we get a real kick out of knowing we’re making a difference by creating environmentally responsible packaging. There are some other fantastic ideas here – why not jump in?
Do you know a huge amount about the environment, and can you advise people about how to make their businesses, homes, and everyday lives more eco-friendly? Then offer your services to help. It might be as simple as helping people to switch their energy provider to one that is renewable, through to advising how to build a green roof (and how to find a builder that can help!), or a complete environmental audit for a business.
You might have a degree that supports your work, you might be accredited, or you might be self-taught, but you’ll need to show off your credentials and build trust, so your social media, website and recommendations need to be top-notch.
Gorgeous gardens can be tough on the environment – especially for those sensitive plants that need lots of irrigation in the summer months. If you know the nuances of different soils, which plants and trees thrive in them, which plants go together, as well as which plants and flowers are great for birds and insects, and you can build areas in gardens to facilitate efficient composting and so on, this is something people will pay for – and will benefit the local area too. Social media that showcases your work will be a huge help to grow your business, so photography skills (even just with your smartphone) are essential.
Green Roof Builder
Insulating roofs doesn’t always mean filling spaces with rock wool or plastic products, and especially when the building that needs insulating isn’t used daily. Summer houses, pergolas and sheds are the ideal buildings that can benefit from a living roof – essentially, a roof covering that is made up of moss, plants, and wildflowers – since they can provide the insulation that you need, while providing an environment for the local wildlife to thrive.
These need special care when being installed, so if you can do that job – and tell your customers about the benefit it will have for the local ecosystem – then this is a great business to start.
Environmental Tour Guide
There are many areas of interest around the country, and tourists want to know about the places that they visit. Do you know a lot about the environment in your local area – especially in terms of bird life, aquatic life, or the history and how climate change has already impacted your area? If so, then you may be able to offer walking, or cycling tours that show off the beauty in your area, as well as highlighting why making changes to our way of life is so important. You can offer these to school groups, or local clubs such as Scouting and Guiding groups, the W.I., and more.
Food Garden Specialist
A lot of people want to be able to grow their own food in order to reduce their impact on the environment. Unfortunately, we don’t all have green fingers – and so there is a lot of people who want a bit of help, both in homes with gardens, and homes without, since there are some incredible ways to grow inside the home. You can do this in person, or use social media (and the associated potential for affiliate marketing) to make a difference and get people growing.
Recycling Business Ideas
When we’re talking about being eco-friendly, the first thing most of us think of is recycling. Although there are some great recycling businesses already operating, there is always scope for more recycling to happen – why not make that the focus of your business?
As technology moves on quickly, there are many, many systems that end up languishing in homes, unused until they are eventually taken to the tip. Sometimes, there is only a problem with one component, and the PC could be used for longer. If you have the knowledge and enjoy working with tech, why not create a business that collects old PCs and parts, so that you can reuse parts to provide PCs for people that are less fortunate? By doing so, you’ll extend the life of the PC, can recycle whichever parts possibly can be, and help stop those parts ending up in landfill.
Start A Composting Business
Most homeowners with gardens like them to look great, but it takes work, and there is often a lot of waste to be dealt with! If you have a bit of land that you can run a composting operation, then you can collect garden waste for composting at a small cost, and then when the compost is completely broken down, sell it for local gardeners to invigorate their soil.
Wood Collection And Reclamation Service
Continuing to cut down trees to make new furniture isn’t ideal – and when there is so much wood already available, why not collect it for use in other items? There are plenty of demand for reclaimed wood, and although you’ll need a storage facility and a way to collect old construction timber, beams, pallets, and large furniture, there is definitely potential for this as a business idea that can benefit the environment.
Reclaiming Construction Materials
Construction is never ending – people always want to make changes to their homes, gardens, and workplaces, knocking structures down and rebuilding them in a new incarnation. That means there is plenty of scope for creating a business from collecting and reclaiming construction materials, from bricks, to tiles, metals, and so on, and making them available to purchase for future projects.
Vehicle And Car Parts Recycling
Scrap yards for cars have been around for years, and for drivers that have an aging car model, it may not be desirable to spend a lot of money on replacement parts. Like computer parts recycling, car parts salvage is a great way to help get the most out of existing vehicles, and if you can help ensure that the parts that are no longer required can be recycled properly, so much the better.
Upcycling Business Ideas
The eco-friendly mantra is reduce, reuse, recycle, and in this section, we’re taking a look at some of the ways to build a business by repurposing what is already out there. These are definitely not the only ideas that could work, so feel free to be inspired – it might be that you can upcycle something we would never have thought of, and make a profit from it!
While it might seem like there are a crazy number of people already creating businesses that upcycle furniture, there’s a lot to be said for saving and repurposing old furniture and turning it into something modern and bespoke. Many older pieces were built to last, and that means that by changing the doors, refinishing the wood on the item, and switching out dated handles, an old fashioned piece can soon become something fresh and up to date.
Of course, this type of work requires workshop and storage space, as well as considerable skills, but if you already know about woodwork, and have a great eye for design, you can build a business that saves the world’s resources, including the all-important forests.
There has been a trend away from fast fashion in previous years, with a backlash against a number of budget brands due to their ethical practices. The thing is, there are millions of items of clothing already created that can be altered and refashioned, to create a one-off garment that looks wonderful and doesn’t mean additional materials or chemicals to be used – nor unethical use of labour.
So many of us might love the idea of being able to take a charity shop find and turn it into something we adore, but we don’t have the ability – or perhaps the patience – to sew them how we want them. If this is something you can do, maybe with the assistance of ideas on Pinterest, and you love browsing thrift stores and second hand shops, then this can be a great way to build a business. On top of your sewing machine and supplies, you’ll need social media accounts to showcase your work, a website to sell through, as well as a presence on handmade marketplaces like Etsy.
If you’ve got the knack for being able to make beautiful designs, and can handle the fiddly little parts in jewellery, just like with fashion items, there’s a huge demand for one-off pieces. Pop into any second hand store, or charity shop, and you’ll find hundreds of items of costume jewellery that have the potential to feature your next design. Whether you remove a chain, use a single stone in a different setting entirely, or remove beading from an item of clothing to create a gorgeous bracelet – reusing the items is much better than buying brand new. If you can minimise leftover waste, or find ways to recycle broken pieces, so much the better. As with fashion designs, you’ll need a social media presence, a website, and other sales outlets like Etsy.
If you can work with old accessories to make something completely new and on trend, you’re onto a winner. Think about finding a super-soft leather coat in a charity shop – it might feel great, but is a hideously outdated design. If you can use that material to make into a bag, or a number of coin purses, then you’ve saved material that could have ended up in the bin, prevented the need for using new materials, and created something that the new owner will absolutely love.
Used Book Reseller
As paperback books became cheaper in supermarkets and online, customers bought them in their millions. However, actually printing books is resource intensive, and has a high impact on the planet. Owning a second hand book business might not be the most lucrative business by itself, but ventures that include a coffee shop, online store, or incorporate other eco-friendly products too are likely to succeed.
Green Travel Business Ideas
Cars and aeroplanes are the cause of so many greenhouse gases getting into the atmosphere. Creating a business that helps people to travel in a more eco-friendly way (and potentially helps them to save money too) will help to save the planet, one journey at a time.
After walking, cycling is one of the most eco-friendly ways to make a journey. Unfortunately, they often need repairs – from simple punctures, to ensuring the brakes are working effectively. If you’re great at fixing bikes, offering repairs is a small-scale venture that can turn into a successful business, especially if you can incorporate other elements, like selling second hand bikes, offering bike tours, or working with cycling groups to host events.
Green Travel Agency
When people want to take a trip overseas, in recent years they would have simply booked a flight and gone. Today, they are tending to act more carefully, considering other methods of transport that has much lower impact on the environment. However, figuring out rail travel and buses in different countries can be intimidating, especially when travellers don’t know the language – so if you can map out itineraries, and book the most appropriate fares, you’ll find clients coming back time and time again.
Open A Campsite
For many of us, there really isn’t anything better than getting back to nature and sleeping under the stars – and it is a really great way to create an eco-friendly business! You’ll need some land, and the requisite permits, but from there, it is a case of setting up your campsite with sustainability in mind. Composting loos are popular options, since they don’t need connecting to sewage systems, and you can connect with local farmers to sell their produce to campers to reduce the carbon footprint of their food. Recycling bins, and composting areas for your grass clippings are of course, essential!
Low Impact Tourism
Walking and cycling tours that highlight the environment are great, but there is so much of our country to explore without thinking about the environment – just the beauty that nature has to offer.
In addition to walking and cycling, kayaking, sailing, and stand up paddleboards have low environmental impact, but many people who would love to have a go don’t know where is best, or safe to go. If you can offer lessons, tours, or self-guided maps and plans, and equipment hire, you can make your passion for water sports into your business – and offer a memorable holiday option for people that has a low impact on the environment.
Take A Regular Business And Make It Green
There are so many businesses that already exist that can be easily established with eco-friendly practices and products. We’re going to cover a few here, but the sky really is the limit here – so if you have an idea, and can make it work, we say go for it!
The beauty industry is well-known for not being eco-friendly – and in many cases, the products aren’t good for humans either. Despite that, there is still demand for beauty treatments, which presents an eco-friendly opportunity if you’ve been trained. With the right type of products, the space you need, you can create an environmentally friendly salon, allowing customers to get their beauty fix while making the switch to better products. A website and social media presence are essential for this idea, as well as a booking system – but if you’re in the beauty industry, you’ll already know that!
As with beauty salons, hairdressers have been known for using harsh chemicals for a long, long time, and those that used vegetable dyes were typically regarded as more hippy. However, as awareness grows about the damaging effects of chemicals on both humans and the environment, customers are demanding better – meaning that salon owners, and mobile hairdressers alike can make the switch to better products. This is likely to help customers to make the switch from home too. Again, you’ll need a website, social media, and a booking system, as well as a contact number.
Green Finance Products
Consumers are becoming more and more aware about the fact that many banks, building societies and finance companies invest their money in endeavours that aren’t so ideal for the future of planet Earth. With that in mind, if you have got the required qualifications for the finance industry, there is huge potential in specialising in advising customers how to invest their money, and which products are more likely to be beneficial to the environment. This is an ideal business to take online, and you’ll need to build credibility and for customers to regard you as an expert in your field, so you’ll need to invest time in building your social media, your website, and doing some great content marketing too.
Building work and construction isn’t typically thought of as the most eco-friendly of industries – but today there are so many products available that mean that, if you’re a tradesman, you can specialise in offering your services using the most eco-friendly products. Recycled plastic piping, eco-friendly paint are just the start, and in many cases, the products are relatively competitively priced – meaning that you can offer those solutions to your customers. Customers might not think of the impact their U-bend being replaced will have on the environment, but when they find your business, they will – and they’re likely to seek you out for repeat work because of that.
Event Planning The Sustainable Way
How many events have you been to where there have been plastic cups, pointless decorations, and bags of rubbish everywhere at the end? We’ve been to quite a few trade events like that, and while many are encouraging the use of water fountains and reusable bottles, there is still a lot of improvement to be done. Many businesses don’t have the resources to invest in researching the products that are best for the environment, or know which are the better options out there, so if corporate events are your thing, why not offer your services using sustainable options?
Sustainable Wedding Planner
While we’re talking about sustainable events – corporate events aren’t the only ones that need the eco-friendly touch. Weddings are about celebrating, and indulging in everything that is good, and unfortunately, they often end with huge amounts of waste. As you’re building your list of happy couples that you support, why not build a website to promote and sell eco-friendly wedding products to? That means alongside your social media, you’ll be able to make a profit that can help to build your business and increase awareness too.
Use A Hobby To Raise Funds To Donate
If you want a less pressured way to build a business that can do good for the planet, why not use what you love? If you’re a keen amateur photographer, you love knitting, drawing, playing music – there are so many ways to sell those things! If your sole focus is to make donations to eco charities to fund their work, then your hobby can be the funds that you want to generate. We talked about how to monetise some of these ideas in this post.
I Have A Different Idea!
This is by no means intended to be a complete list, and there are plenty of other ways that businesses can be created and benefit the environment. Maybe you set up a business that has absolutely nothing to do with the environment at all, but you make it as eco-friendly as possible, and you donate a percentage of your profits to environmental charities. There are no shortage of charities and non-profits that are doing incredible work, such as those that are working to help clear the ocean of plastic, to prevent environmental problems, or to develop eco-friendly alternatives – and they’d all be grateful for the support you can give them.
Don’t Want To Do The Hard Work Of Start-Up?
Getting a business off the ground, building it from scratch can take time and can be a massive hassle. If you don’t want to do that hard work, and would rather jump into a business and have some cash that you can invest, then there are some incredible green franchises available. Although buying a franchise can be expensive, some may be more affordable than you may think – check out some of the current green and eco-friendly franchise opportunities here.
There’s also always the option of buying an established business, of course – simply search directories that have businesses for sale. You may not even need to buy an established eco-friendly business, you may be able to take a traditional business, and make the switches required to make it better for the planet – such as with beauty salons, events planning, and so on.
Our Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are plenty of ideas for budding entrepreneurs to build a business that makes them money and helps save the planet – and many of them have plenty of ways to scale up further, by employing more than one strategy! Of course, we’re on our own mission to help the planet, one package at a time, and if your eco-friendly business venture requires packaging solutions, we’d be delighted to help you with your packaging requirements.