Looking to help save the world? There are countless eco-friendly business ideas to help you create a greener earth while also making a good living. Besides the obvious ones like solar energy, recycling, and gardening, you could start a sustainable restaurant, or a bikeshare and bike rental business that helps cut down on commuting.
Best of all, eco-friendly businesses are perfectly placed to gain from increasing global concern about climate change: the environmental industry is expected to see impressive 9% annual growth in the years ahead. Almost everybody wants to do their part, especially if you’re able to offer a valuable product or service at a great price.
To get started, check out our list of eco-friendly business ideas below.
Up to 40% of the US food supply ends up as waste, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The government seeks to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030. Some states have banned food waste from landfills while others have required recycling of organic waste. These policies are pushing more Americans to embrace composting, the natural process of recycling organic waste such as food scraps, yard waste like fallen leaves and branches, and other biodegradable materials.
Did you know that composting is not only great for the environment, but can also be very profitable? Starting a composting business could be your ticket to financial freedom. You’ll be helping reduce the country’s carbon footprint and fighting global warming.
Compost, the organic material produced after composting, is an excellent and valuable fertilizer or alternative to soil for growing plants. It’s used in gardens, landscaping, golf courses, and more. If you plan carefully and put in a lot of effort, your composting business can bring serious success.
2. Recycling Business
Are you all about going green and saving the environment? Then why not start a recycling business and turn your passion into your livelihood. You could be fighting climate change and making good money at the same time — now that’s a win-win!
Getting started won’t be cheap, as you’ll need a vehicle to collect and transport the recyclables and a sizable processing facility, as well the appropriate licenses. But you should see a relatively quick return on that initial investment as the US recycling industry is worth billions and growing fast. You’ll just need to decide which types of recyclables you’ll focus on, such as collecting glass to melt down into jars.
Before you dive in, you might want to check the recycling rates for your state, as some states are much more profitable when it comes to recycling.
Four in 10 American millennials are engaged in indoor gardening activities, such as growing sprouts in jars and herbs in pots, while a third of baby boomers care for indoor plants to relieve stress. If you have a green thumb and a love for plants, you could starting a gardening business and help fight climate change while bringing a bit of green growth into people’s lives. It’s a fun way to turn a hobby into a money-making venture.
Starting a gardening business is relatively simple and doesn’t require much overhead, particularly if you have the space to run it from home. You can host in-person and virtual gardening workshops, design and maintain gardens and provide other services like lawn care. It’s a good idea to research the market and find out what your competitors are offering in order to find clients. With your passion for nurturing plants and persistence to keep going, you can easily grow your gardening business — and go green in more ways than one!
4. Plastic Recycling
If you’re looking for a great business opportunity, now’s a great time to start a plastics recycling business. The US plastics recycling market is already worth $3 billion and poised for major growth after the passage of major climate legislation in mid-2022.
You could make good money while helping preserve the environment by reducing the amount of non-biodegradable waste that ends up in landfills. Millions of tons of plastic waste are generated each year and less than 10% is recycled, presenting a huge business opportunity.
Before launching your business, you might want to take a look at what other recycling companies are doing and find a promising niche. Most businesses are recycling bottles and jars, as bottled water manufacturers are the largest consumers of recycled plastic. Others are recycling low-density polyethylene, which is used in wall panels, furniture, flooring, garbage cans, and more.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to comply with local, state and national regulations. Do that, and your business can play a key role in reducing plastic waste and make you a green success.
5. Craft Business
Do you have a creative hobby? If it involves some sort of craft, you might want to consider turning your at-home pastime into a business. With countless Americans stuck at home during the pandemic, the arts and crafts industry exploded. In 2020 alone, online marketplace Etsy’s revenue more than doubled, to $1.72 billion. Right now is a great time to start your own craft business and provide people with wonderful, eco-friendly products while riding this wave to prosperity.
You’ll be your own boss, working when you want and expressing your creativity every day. But you will need to decide which products to focus on. One good option is go green — using recycled materials to make hats and T-shirts, for instance, or turning recycled plastic into smartly designed cups, mugs and plates. Whatever you choose, be sure to research what’s already out there and find your market gap. Building a strong brand will be key to your success.
If you’re thinking about starting your own beekeeping business, you’re in for a lot of hard work, and potentially great rewards. The US beekeeping industry, valued at $636 million in 2021, declined at the start of the pandemic and has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. This presents a tremendous opportunity to beekeepers. Bees are essential to global biodiversity because they pollinate flowers, foods and trees that humans and animals need to survive.
They also produce honey, a natural sweetener with medicinal properties. Before you get started, you should know that beekeeping is highly regulated and you’ll need to learn and follow your state’s laws. In addition, you should know about bee Colony Collapse Disorder, which has severely undermined the global bee population in recent years. At the same time, an entire movement has grown up around the issue, meaning that if you launch a beekeeping business there will be a lot of people out there willing to help you succeed. That’s good for the planet — and for your business!
7. Plant Nursery
Do you have a green thumb? Are you passionate about plants and gardening? If so, starting your own plant nursery could be the perfect business for you! The US nursery and garden stores industry has grown steadily the last five years and is expected to approach $42 billion in 2022. That’s great news for garden businesses, and for the environment! Also, demand for ornamental plants remained strong during the pandemic as a lot of people in lockdown sought to beautify their homes and outdoor spaces.
Before you start your plant nursery, be sure to think of innovative ways to compete with the big players and take the time learn about your target audience and gain extensive plant knowledge. Also, will you cultivate ornamental plants, herbs, microgreens, or food crops? Finally, get creative in your marketing and social media outreach — highlighting how small nurseries help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for instance. With a bit of luck, you’ll soon be making good green.
8. Solar Farm
Worried about climate change? There are many ways to help combat it and make a living at the same time, especially after the passage of the massive climate bill in August 2022, which earmarked billions of federal funds for clean energy projects.
That’s good news, because starting a solar farm — a field of photovoltaic panels that absorb energy from the sun and convert it into electricity for the power grid — can cost up to $2 million. But if you have land it’s not that difficult to get started, and solar farms are low maintenance.
They also provide clean, renewable energy, minimize carbon emissions, and reduce electricity bills. You’ll be doing your part for the environment while earning good money.
9. Solar Business
Are you thinking of starting a solar business? If so, you’re in good company. Thanks to the federal government’s new climate bill and established tax incentives, along with greater concern about the environment, the solar industry is booming, and the cost of panels has declined more than 60% in the past decade. There’s probably never been a better time to go solar.
Before you get started you’ll have a big decision to make: will your business sell solar panels, just install them, sell and install, or go in another direction and build an entire solar farm. That last choice is of course the most expensive, and also requires a sizable chunk of land, preferably in a sunny place. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to meet all the relevant regulations, then you’ll be ready to renew and energize your entrepreneurial journey.
10. Grocery Store
Supermarkets thrived during the pandemic, expanding to a US market value of $750 billion in 2022. If you’re looking to start a grocery store, you’re not alone. Competition is stiff in this industry, although you can still corner a share of the market if you’re innovative and willing to respond to consumer demands.
Besides registering your business, it’s important to choose a suitable location for your store and decide on your retail format first. Your store can either carry only fresh produce and grocery items, or you can also provide space for a small coffee shop, a pharmacy, or some fuel pumps. One of the most appealing market niches these days is to go green, with a focus on sustainable and eco-friendly food products.
Whatever route you choose, it’s important to provide convenience, by offering delivery and pick-up as well as ready-to-eat meals. People want to be green, but they also want things to be quick and easy.
11. Farmers’ Market
Are you among the millions of Americans who often shop for fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables at your local farmers’ market? A better approach might be to start your own farmers’ market. It’s a great way to make good money while promoting a healthy and nutritious diet and supporting small-scale eco-friendly farming.
You’ll be helping local farmers earn more by giving them a direct sales venue, cutting out the middleman. You’ll also be helping cut down on the miles produce has to travel to reach customers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Pre-pandemic, the number of US farmers’ markets had been on the rise, surpassing 8,000 in 2019. Some markets sell only fresh fruits and vegetables while others offer meats, dairy products, baked goods, spices, crafts and more, so you’ll have a lot of options in terms of booth selection.
A good starting to point is to ask which products are most loved by local consumers. If you plan carefully, your farmers’ market can be very rewarding — in more ways than one.
12. Cottage Food
Do your baked goods make people swoon? Well then you might consider starting your own cottage food business. It is a great way to turn your love of cooking into a career. Homemade foods are booming in the wake of the pandemic and consumers’ growing preference for healthy, non-processed foods. The US food industry is seeing strong growth and expected to hit $900 billion in 2022.
You could start your cottage food business by selling to your neighbors and friends, building up a local reputation. From there, you could highlight the eco-friendly nature of your products in your marketing and social media — mentioning your use of only organic, locally-grown goods, for instance.
Cottage foods refer to breads, cookies, jams, biscuits, candies, honeys, pickles, preserves, and other edibles that don’t spoil easily.Some states don’t require cottage food businesses to get a license or permit as long as revenues don’t exceed a certain amount, but check with your local authorities first.
13. Waste Management
You can make money from garbage and, with the right approach and equipment, help preserve the environment at the same time. The global waste management market is set for rapid growth in the years ahead, expected to be worth more than $700 billion by 2030. On top of that, North America produces more than half of the world’s waste, and environmentally conscious waste removal businesses are in line for significant government funding following the passage of the climate bill in 2022.
If you want to cash in on trash, consider setting up a waste management business in your area. First, decide on a niche market — your best bet will be anything that leans green, such as chemical waste cleanup and removal. Next, be sure to learn and comply with local zoning regulations and licensing requirements and insurance needs.
From there you’ll just need to set up a good processing facility. If you’re prepared and have a clear plan of action, starting a waste management business can be doubly green.
14. Microgreens Farmer
If you’re not familiar with microgreens, they are tiny plants that are harvested soon after they germinate. People appreciate them for their soft texture, strong flavor, and health benefits, and in recent years they have become big business!
The global microgreens market is expected to expand more than 60% by 2028. You could ride this wave, make good money and be eco-friendly by starting your own microgreen business. There are many plants to choose from, including arugula, kale, red cabbage, wheatgrass and pea shoots. Since they don’t need much space, you could even grow them in your home or yard, helping reduce greenhouse gases.
You’ll want to devise a strong marketing plan and build an appealing website to let people know about your plants, their prices, and the great benefits — to people and to the planet. Back in the day, microgreens were only used in salads, but today they might appear as drink garnishes, in juices and smoothies, on pizzas, and more. So once your first harvest is ready, start reaching out to consumers, restaurants and cafes and you’ll soon be seeing green.
If you love working on your yard and spending time outdoors, you might consider starting your own landscaping business. Boosted by the recent real estate boom, landscaping and lawncare have seen steady growth in recent years. That expansion is expected to continue, especially if your business is focused on green practices and sustainability.
Either way, now’s an excellent time to get in on the action and ride this wave to success. You could offer a wealth of services, from designing yards and gardens to tree planting, trimming, mowing and more, and you could focus on residential customers or businesses, or go for broke and aim for both!
First, you’ll need to brush up on your landscape design and maintenance skills. Fortunately, the US government in 2019 partnered with the leading landscapers’ association to launch a national landscapers’ apprenticeship program to train more skilled workers. You’ll also need to invest in quality equipment, as well as a reliable truck.
After that, to attract clients you’ll want to build a simple, appealing website and launch some strong marketing to get the word out. From there, you should start seeing the business roll in as you enjoy the scent of freshly cut grass.
16. Tea Business
After water, tea is the world’s most popular drink. It comes in endless varieties and is enjoyed by people of every continent, religion, and culture. US tea consumption has increased steadily in recent years, to the point that it’s not uncommon to find a wide variety of teas at your local supermarket. You could get in on this trend by opening your own tea shop, offering a calm, appealing gathering space for the community while making a good living.
The most important step will be finding the right niche. One good approach is to focus on fair trade and sustainability — ensuring that all of the teas you sell have been legally sourced, the workers have received fair payment and the cultivation is done sustainably.
Once you’ve secured a good physical space, or an online shop, the next major hurdle will be getting the appropriate permits and licenses. After that, just crank up the marketing and start making sales.
17. Nutrition Business
Obsessed with counting calories? If so, a nutrition business might be perfect for you. Nearly 6,000 dietitians and nutritionists are needed each year through 2030 in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and government offices across the US. Globally, the billion-dollar human nutrition market is expected to continue growing due to rising health awareness among consumers and the surging demand for dietary supplements.
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own nutrition business, there are several ways to do it. You could provide outsourced services to hospitals and nursing homes, or set up your own nutrition center. You just need to check out the licensing requirements and government regulations before you start operating. Pick a niche and stick to it, whether it’s dietary supplements, food and beverages, or infant nutrition. If you’re passionate about climate change, you could advocate for organic and locally-grown produce and other sustainable foods that help reduce harmful emissions. You’d be helping the planet, boosting people’s health and making good money all at the same time!
18. Dry Cleaning
As the pandemic recedes, more and more people are organizing social gatherings they had put on hold, from weddings and memorials to class reunions, and the $8 billion dry cleaning industry is expected to bounce back big-time. That means right now is a great time to start your own dry cleaning business and ride the wave.
Before you get started, you should identify your target market. One hot industry trend right now is to go green and embrace sustainable dry cleaning materials and methods. Eco-friendly dry-cleaning is essentially any method that doesn’t use perchloroethylene, or Perc, which is toxic and a likely carcinogen — yet still used by 85% of dry cleaners.
Several safer alternatives have emerged in recent years, including wet cleaning, which uses a halogen-free solvent, and K4 cleaning, which uses a corn-based biodegradable solution. You could provide full-service laundering and dry cleaning services while not posing a threat to health or the environment.
19. App Business
Did you ever think about how often you use mobile apps? Probably many times a day, which is why apps are among the world’s fastest growing industries. The global app market is worth more than $465 billion and expected to expand nearly 40% by 2026. If you have some tech skills, you could start your own app business and ride that growth to great success.
Getting there, however, will not be as easy as unlocking your phone. First, you’ll need a great idea for your first app. If you’ve already got that, you’ll need to do the build out and coding, then have the app vetted and approved by major app outlets, like Apple and Google. And that’s when the real work begins — convincing smartphone owners that your app is more appealing and valuable than the millions of other apps competing for their attention.
You might think that’s the easy part, but many entrepreneurs make that same mistake. Even the most brilliant apps need a well-executed marketing strategy to take off. Any fool can make an app. The hard part is getting people to use it. One smart route might be to highlight the app’s eco-friendliness.
20. Scooter Rental
With gas prices going up, more Americans might find it more practical to use scooters for their daily commute. Scooters cost less and get better mileage, which is good for the planet. Over the past decade, Americans took some 330 million trips on shared bikes and scooters — and that number continues to grow. Considering this, a scooter rental business would be a great option.
But first, it’s important to understand that scooters are used primarily for short distances. Setting up this kind of business will need a huge upfront investment because you might have to purchase scooters, unless you can lease them. Make sure you have all the necessary permits and insurance in place before opening. Once you have everything you need, it’s a good idea to work on advertising your business. One advantage to highlight is the reduced carbon emissions!
21. Bike Rental
As more eco-conscious workers return to the daily commute, demand for bike rentals for last-mile connections will likely increase. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, a bike rental shop might be a great option. The US bike rental industry, which is valued at nearly $800 million, is projected to grow in the next five years amid a boom in bike sharing.
More commuters now prefer to ride bikes because these are good for the environment. Also, crowded public transport means greater health concerns. Just be sure to do your research and find a good niche for your area — maybe it’s mountain bikes for off-roading, or electric bikes that go longer distances.
22. Greenhouse Business
For a long time, greenhouse seemed like relics of a bygone age. But as weather becomes more unpredictable and people look to take greater control of what they eat, greenhouses are suddenly popping up like weeds! The global greenhouse industry is expected to more than double in the coming years, topping $3 billion.
You could start your own greenhouse business and help people build the green sanctuary of their dreams while supporting nature and riding the market boom to major profits. You’ll need to have some understanding of greenhouse construction and some farming or gardening experience.
But if you’re a green thumb you should have no trouble finding, and could end up building more greenhouses than you can count.
Have you ever dreamed of working the land on your own farm? Now’s a great time to take the plunge, with countless people leaving cities for the countryside and looking to eat healthier, all-natural foods fresh from the farm. Farming is a trillion-dollar industry in the US, and offers considerable opportunity for the hard-working entrepreneur.
There will be hard work, as farming is not as easy as putting on overalls. But you’ll be able to do your part to combat climate change, with organic farming techniques, pasture-raised animals and locally-sold produce. You’ll also get to work in the great outdoors and provide nourishing foods to your family and community.