40 Eco-Friendly Business Ideas
Green businesses focus on sustainable products and practices that help create a more environmentally sound future. Your eco-friendly business can implement various green strategies, such as sourcing local products, improving recycling efforts and switching to more efficient energy methods.
Some sustainable businesses may even benefit from tax incentives and government subsidies.
40 eco-friendly business ideas
Looking to launch an environmental startup? Here are 40 sustainable business ideas to consider.
While composting food waste can help reduce landfill waste, many consumers don’t have a way to use the result. Consider running a business that collects composted material from local homes, turning a profit by selling it to local gardeners and farmers.
Green dry cleaning
Traditional dry cleaning often contains harmful chemicals, potentially affecting both the body and environment. Machines that use the common dry cleaning solvent perchloroethylene (perc) were banned in California in 2023. Green dry cleaning uses safer alternatives, reducing the chemical overload for people and the planet.
Green junk removal
With growing awareness about waste and trash filling up landfills, it’s possible to start a business that collects and disposes of household and business trash sustainably. Green junk removal companies will donate, recycle and reuse items to keep them out of landfills.
Clothing resale shop
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, landfills received 11.3 million tons of municipal solid waste textiles in 2018 (the latest available data from the EPA). Why not save these clothes from landfills by opening a thrift or consignment shop?
In addition to clothes, you could sell other used goods to keep them from ending up in the landfill. Some examples include:
- Secondhand books
- Gently used furniture
- Used electronics
As the trend for environmentally sustainable companies grows, so does the demand for sustainably focused builders and architects. You can explore various ways to get involved in this field, such as sourcing more sustainable construction materials or providing solar panels (more on this later). Obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification can demonstrate commitment and expertise on green building and remodeling.
Green beauty salon or spa
If you’re interested in the beauty industry, consider opening a hair salon, nail salon or spa that specializes in green practices, including:
- Using products without toxic chemicals
- Sourcing ingredients and supplies from local organic farms
- Having waterless pedicures
While many businesses want to reduce their carbon footprint, many don’t know where to start. A green consultant can do energy audits to assess a company’s current energy usage. From there, you could brainstorm on various sustainability ideas in an effort to use energy more efficiently.
Creative and artistic types could create a business by transforming “junk” into sellable goods. One common example is turning used wine bottles into candles or lamps.
You can also create your own clothing line of funky designs made from old clothes or scraps of material. Sell your goods on sites like Etsy, at local craft or farmers markets or local shops.
Green house cleaning
Those wanting a more eco-friendly living or work space may opt for a green cleaner. You can use chemical-free cleaning products to keep houses and business spaces sparkly clean while helping protect the environment.
Green pest control
Some environmental businesses offer safer, earth-friendly pest control solutions, including:
- Ant, termite and bedbug treatments
- Cockroach and rodent exterminations
Commercial services could be an option, too.
With a spotlight on the carbon footprint of driving, consumer interest in transportation alternatives could increase. You could open a shop that repairs and sells bikes and scooters. E-bikes are rising in popularity, especially for city commuters looking for a cost-efficient travel option that is also kind to the environment.
When electronics age or break, it’s common for people to throw them out. You can reduce this nonbiodegradable waste and turn a profit by refurbishing electronics and other types of technology, such as cellphones, computers and vacuums.
Printer ink refilling
Rather than throwing ink cartridges into the trash, you could launch an ink refilling business. This could help consumers save money while reducing plastic waste.
More consumers and business owners want to reduce water usage and employ landscaping techniques that benefit the environment, such as hardscaping or xeriscaping:
- Hardscaping: Add nonliving elements, such as bricks, rocks, stone and wood. You could also include manufactured additions, such as patio covers, retention ponds and decks.
- Xeriscaping: Can include hardscaping, but may also use drought-tolerant plants. This option is easier to maintain than a traditional lawn or garden and significantly reduces water usage.
These practices are low maintenance, better for the local environment and look good year-round.
Gardens benefit the environment in many ways, including capturing carbon. Your green business could build gardens for businesses and homeowners, including space-saving vertical gardens, which have become popular in urban environments.
Green gardening store or workshop
You could open a gardening store if you’d rather base your business in one place. In addition to selling gardening supplies and plants, you could teach eco-friendly gardening classes.
Growing food locally without harmful additives or chemicals has numerous benefits. You’re capturing carbon, reducing chemicals and growing fruits and veggies with higher nutrition content. Plus, selling locally reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport it to its final destination. You can sell your goods at local farmers’ markets, restaurants and grocery stores. You could also consider delivering the food directly to consumers in your area with a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
The solar power industry has grown rapidly over recent years. In fact, the Energy Information Administration, which provides statistical data to the Department of Energy, estimates that by 2050, 20% of U.S. electricity will come from solar power. More homeowners and commercial building owners are seeking this form of renewable energy, especially as prices drop. Your business can focus on manufacturing solar panels or installation — or both if you want to be a one-stop resource for renewable energy.
Wind energy is the most common form of renewable electricity in the U.S., so creating a wind farm or another business in this field could be a smart move. Just be aware that starting a wind energy business can be long and complicated (think obtaining permits, wildlife and environmental impact considerations, etc.) — and could take several years to get a business off the ground.
Biofuel is another form of renewable energy, made from either plants or waste. While it requires some scientific know-how, one idea is to start a green business that produces and sells biofuels, especially as many companies shift to using them.
Electric car charging
The market for electric cars (EVs) continues to rise rapidly and by 2030, sales of electric vehicles could reach 40% of total U.S. car sales. As a result, charging stations will likely be in high demand to allow EVs to travel longer distances. You could start a business that offers electric car charging stations.
People who want to reduce carbon emissions may skip vehicle ownership, especially if they live in a place with decent public transportation. However, a car-free individual might need a vehicle from time to time. A car-sharing business would allow these consumers to access a vehicle on a per-needed basis.
Electric car service
Ride-share services can help reduce the number of cars on the road. But as long as they rely on fossil fuels, they still create a significant carbon footprint. You could start a taxi or ride-share service using a fleet of electric cars.
For example, eCab is a small electric car service offered in several cities in Texas, Missouri and Arizona.
Energy-efficient car sales
Drivers wanting to reduce reliance on fossil fuels will likely express interest in hybrid or electric cars. You could open a dealership that caters specifically to this need.
The farm-to-table trend is popular for a reason: Local cuisine can be less processed and more nutritious. Plus, it supports local farms and uses minimal fossil fuels to be transported nearby.
Consider opening an eco-friendly farm-to-table restaurant that sources as many local ingredients as possible. You might even want to consider a restaurant business loan as you get started.
Green catering and food supplier
Similarly, you could start a catering company specializing in local, farm-to-table foods. This could appeal to event planners and clients who prefer to spend their money on eco-friendly businesses.
Alternative materials creation
Many businesses want to manufacture more eco-friendly and biodegradable materials and packaging. For example, as some cities ban plastic straws, your business could make compostable, reusable metal or silicone straws.
Software and apps
You can create software programs or mobile apps to help businesses or individuals achieve a more eco-friendly lifestyle. For example, your app could list the most sustainably-focused brands, where to locate recycling centers or daily tips for adopting the zero-waste lifestyle.
If you have a legal background, you can provide services to help protect the environment and help corporations follow the current environmental laws.
Fundraiser and grant writer
Environmental organizations and nonprofits typically rely on grant money and donations to keep their mission alive. You can become a freelance grant writer or find an organization needing an in-house fundraiser. Check out jobs on UpWork and Fiverr to get started.
Start a cooperative
A sustainable community allows everyone to share resources, such as pitching in with a community garden or sharing communal compost. You can focus on building eco-friendly or tiny houses to reduce the carbon footprints of the community’s residents.
Green gift shop
Inspire people to implement more green choices with an eco-friendly gift shop. You can get a commercial real estate loan to open a brick-and-mortar space, or create an online store selling the latest eco-friendly products.
Some ideas include metal straws, reusable shopping bags, shampoo bars, recycled plastic rugs and more. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of setting up your own store, consider selling your eco products on Etsy.
If you love to travel and take care of the environment, this one could be for you. You can help tourists find eco-friendly destinations and resorts worldwide that offer chemical-free accommodation and focus on protecting the environment. For example, this ecosanctuary in New Zealand offers a place to stay while experiencing nature’s beauty up close. You can even view native birds while soaking in a chemical-free hot tub.
Writing an eco blog can be a great way to share current information about climate change and how to live a greener life. Consider adding social media content to help boost your presence, such as YouTube videos, Instagram pictures and more. With paid advertisers, this business could be quite profitable.
Eco-friendly kids’ products
Many kids toys and products contain plastic — both in the product and in the packaging. Help parents reduce trash by producing sustainable toys, glass bottles, recycled clothing and cloth diapers.
Green venture capitalist
Help other green entrepreneurs launch their business ideas by investing in up-and-coming environmentally sustainable companies. While providing venture capital financing has pros and cons, it can be a great way to boost the presence of green companies.
Sustainable events planner
Events tend to generate a lot of trash, especially those relying on paper plates and plastic silverware. Help companies and families host a range of events — from weddings to family reunions to graduations — with an eco-friendly focus. You can provide compostable tableware, cloth napkins and eco-friendly decorations. Or, you could start an event venue business to host parties, conferences and events at a venue focused exclusively on eco-conservation.
Plant delivery service
Help keep homes and offices fresh and full of clean air by delivering local plants and flowers right to their door.
Green financial planning
Green bonds can help address climate change through innovative financing and environmentally conscious investments. If you’re financially savvy, you can help others buy and sell these bonds to boost their eco-friendly portfolios.
Advantages of starting an eco-friendly business
As consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions, more are demanding green business options to help reduce their carbon footprint.
A recent NeilsonIQ study showed that 73% of global consumers would likely change their consumption behavior to reduce environmental impact. Another sign of growth in this space: Some colleges now offer “green majors” to help students prepare to enter the field of environmentally friendly business.
Based on these growing trends, now might be the best time to start an environmentally-friendly business.
Funding sources for green businesses
- The Conservation Fund provides loans to land trusts and other organizations looking to increase green space and broaden conservation programs. If you’re looking to start a farming business, its Working Farms Fund helps farmers lease-to-own farmland. It’s currently a pilot program available only in select metro areas, but the organization hopes to scale it soon.
- The federal government offers various loans and grants for eco-friendly businesses, including some from the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation.
Environmental nonprofit Green America offers a green business certification program, which can show consumers and businesses that your operation meets high standards of eco-friendliness. This certification could attract customers wishing to prioritize companies that put the environment first.