15 Easy-To-Start Green Businesses


No matter what your current personal and/or business financial status, the fact is the United States’ and the world’s economy are in an ongoing upheaval with uncertain job markets and rises in fuel costs and living expenses.

In addition, we face the problems of keeping our world green and free from noxious pollution.

Fortunately, savvy entrepreneurs are using their ingenuity along with new technologies and renewable energy sources to recycle, reduce, and reuse waste materials to start profitable ventures. Here are fifteen green home business ideas for you to consider that are potentially-profitable and earth-friendly.**

**Please note: Professional associations are primarily networking organizations and usually do not offer start-up information. Include a business-sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope with any snail mail correspondence.


1. Trash to Cash Products

Ingenious individuals are creating an endless variety of new consumer and industry products from recycled materials: women’s purses from used license plates; park benches from discarded foam egg cartons; biodegradable dinnerware from leaves; and many more unique items. Most successful innovators have developed their recycled products within the areas and industries with which they are familiar.

Success Tips: Having access to a free or inexpensive source of renewable or recyclable materials will help your venture be cost-effective. Check with local SCORE (www.score.com) or Small Business Development (SBDC) offices for entrepreneurial and product-marketing courses.

Suggested Resources:

*Future Inventors Association

*Nolo – books on patents, copyrights, licensing

2. Gardening (Green) Consultant

More garden hobbyists and small organic specialty growers and farmers are looking for ways to raise their flowers and vegetables using less chemicals and toxic pesticides while conserving our disappearing water reserves. You can specialize in everything from xerioscaping (using drought-resistant plants); to planning children’s or butterfly gardens and natural habitats.

Success Tips: Potential clients may be condo owners or apartment dwellers who have small yards, balconies, or even rooftops where they wish to grow plants. Environmentally-aware business owners can use your services to beautify their properties and interiors with low-maintenance shrubs and plants. Market your services writing newspaper columns and leading workshops at local plant nurseries.

Suggested Resources:

*National Gardening Association

*The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control… by Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, and Deborah L. Martin

3. Eco-Cleaning

Most homes and residential units, office buildings, and vehicles require routine cleaning; and the demand for this service from people with busy schedules continues to grow. Advertising that you use non-toxic solutions and methods in your work, will help differentiate you from other competitors.

Success Tips: Working in this physically-demanding-industry can help you gain valuable time-saving tips and possibly find clients that competitors have overlooked. Quality service will encourage word-of-mouth referrals. Stay current with the latest eco-friendly products and water and energy-saving methods.

Suggested Resources:

*Organic Family Magazine

*Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter, Mikki Halpin

4. Green Building Consultant

There is a large demand for architects, interior designers, engineers, building contractors, and other professionals who specialize in sustainable and eco-friendly building practices. If you are an expert in these fields or if they interest you, get the work experience, training, and licensing to qualify to be hired as the green expert for your clients’ building, remodeling, or energy-assessment projects.

Success Tips: Market your business at home trade shows with a free brochure or CD of energy-saving tips; write columns for local papers; or teach energy-saving adult evening courses. Encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

Suggested Resources:

*Green Home Guide

*Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery, 4th ed. by Charles J. Kibert

5. Alternative Energy Consultant

With fluctuating prices and supplies of fossil fuels, consumers, business owners, nonprofits, and governmental agencies are looking for affordable alternative energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, and others. With an engineering degree and expertise, you can evaluate facilities’ energy usage and make recommendations for more efficient techniques or optional energy sources. Potential clients include small utility companies, educational institutions, business and property owners, local governments, and contractors.

Success Tips: Market your business with energy-information presentations at local business owners associations’ meetings, local home improvement centers, and trade shows. Post customers’ testimonials on your web site and in your promotional materials.

Suggested Resources:

*Office of Energy Efficiency and Reusable Energy

*The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy… by Dan Chiras

6. Green Transportation Service

You can start a green transportation service using bio-fuel or hybrid cars, trucks, vans, and even limousines to transport people to special events, seniors to their appointments, and children to after-school activities. In tourist destinations, you can rent bikes, scooters, or invest in pedicabs to transport visitors. Related ideas include transporting pets and light hauling for local businesses.

Success Tips: Launch your business with a press release and a photo of your transporting a local celebrity or children for a charity event. Send promotional materials to senior centers and schools. Check out your local and state transportation regulations as to the licensing and insurances you must have.

Suggested Resources:

*Main Street Pedicabs

*SBA District Offices

7. Eco-Travel Agency

Recent statistics reveal worldwide, green travel is growing three times as fast as the entire industry. Eco-tourism often combines peoples’ hobbies and recreational pursuits with tours for birders, bicyclists, hikers, divers, gardeners, campers, and other enthusiasts.

Success Tips: Training and travel experience will give you the credentials and knowledge to offer the right tours for your clients. Many mature adults are also looking for volunteer working vacations to participate in environmental projects. Start with tours or travel in your own area and build from there. Market your agency with travel columns and articles about the destinations in airlines’ and seniors’ publications and others.

Suggested Resources:

* The International Ecotourism Society

*Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Managers by Kreg Lindberg (Editor)

8. Organic Foods Specialist

Consumers’ concerns with outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and with the use of toxic chemicals and fertilizers in farming have spurred a new interest in eating organic foods. Lucrative markets are rapidly expanding for organic caterers, and chefs, natural and vegetarian foods consultants, and small produce growers.

Success Tips: Survey prospective clients in your area for the types of organic foods and services they want and the prices they are willing to pay; and tailor your food business to their demands. Take a stand at a local farmer’s market and offer free samples. Market your services and/or produce by teaching in adult evening schools, or writing a food column offering recipes and educating people about healthy eating.

Suggested Resources:

*United States Department of Agriculture

*Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food by Pamela C. Ronald, R. W. Adamchak

9. Green E-Commerce

Whether you are selling your own green products or services, or those of other

eco-entrepreneurs and companies, generally, the most cost-effective way to sell these items, is through the Internet with a web-dedicated site; or on other “Netpreneurs” sites with services and/or products that compliment yours. Conduct a thorough market research to see what green product or service niches are unfilled.

Success Tips: Write a business plan and test-market your offerings through online auctions sites. Promote with articles or a free e-newsletter, and post comments on blogs or community sites to draw prospective customers to your site.

Suggested Resource:

*Greentailing and Other Revolutions in Retail: Hot Ideas That Are Grabbing Customers’ Attention and Raising Profits by Neil Z. Stern, Willard N. Ander

10. Recycling Consultant

Recycling consultants are increasing in demand, because business owners are realizing it is both economical and profitable to recycle and re-use their wastes; and that more people are looking to buy from green companies. Recycling consultants specialize in areas where they have had previous experience such as construction, manufacturing, and other industries and know the laws and guidelines of getting rid of that trade’s waste.

Success Tips: Market your expertise directly to local and state agencies as well as to business owners and nonprofit organizations to help them save money through recycling, and possibly act as a broker to assist them in selling by-products and scraps to other sources.

Suggested Resources:

*National Recycling Coalition

*McGraw-Hill Recycling Handbook, 2nd ed. by Herbert F. Lund

11. Errand Service

Errand service operators save clients valuable time and gas money by completing their everyday tasks like shopping, mailing packages, returning library books, and transporting pets. Look for niche errand services that are not being offered by competitors.

Success Tips: Start with a dependable vehicle and upgrade to a hybrid. Provide prospective clients with a listing of area green businesses that they might patronize like organic farms, green dry cleaners and others. Check for transport regulations related to your deliveries. Consult with your vehicle’s insurance agent for adequate coverage. Advertise with vehicle signs.

Suggested Resources:

*National Concierge Association

*How to Start and Operate an Errand Service, rev. ed. by Rob Spina

12. Raising Beneficial Insects & Earthworms

Garden hobbyists and professional growers who prefer to raise their own flowers and vegetables naturally look to use alternative pest-control methods. With a science background or experience, you could raise and sell beneficial predator insects; as well as earthworms for soil improvement; butterfly larvae for educational groups; mealworms for pet stores or birders; bees for honey; and other related insect-education products.

Success Tips: Check with your local county extension office (www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/) for regulations and licensing in raising and transporting insects and for client referrals. Market with booths at gardening shows; give talks at schools, local gardening clubs and centers; and design web site with photos and a related Q & A blog to answers visitors’ pest removal questions.

Suggested Resources:

*Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers

*Beneficial Insects – How to Mass-Rear for a Profit by Bob Saffell

13. Pet Waste Removal

Over $2.9 billion dollars was spent on pet products in 2007 (www.AmericanPetProducts.org). This includes pet waste removal services as well as the cleaning of dog and cat runs and also the yards of larger animals such as pet pigs, pygmy goats, and other animals. Similar services can be offered to horse and livestock farms.

Success Tips: Check with local authorities as to the proper disposal of collected waste. Posting flyers in pet stores and veterinary offices, having vehicle signs, and running regular classified ads are all effective advertising methods.

Suggested Resource:

*Directory of Pooper Scooper Services

14. Green Business Referrals

Many business owners are joining the green movement because they care about the global environment and wish to patronize eco-friendly enterprises and entrepreneurs. You can offer clients a choice of pre-screened contractors and companies who pay you referral fees.

Success Tips: Hire related experts to help you evaluate the businesses you wish to include in your green referral listing. Use your local business owners’ organizations and Better Business Bureau chapters to assist you in finding qualified and reputable businesses.

Suggested Resources:

*Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies by Eric Corey Freed

*Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by Daniel C. Esty, Andrew Winston

15. Environmental Information Specialist

Based on your specific environmental knowledge, you can write and sell books, e-books, local green business directories, and/or a subscription to your monthly paper or e-zine. Provide tips, new product reviews, and a listing of green sites and local establishments and other resources to help your readers save money while living and working greener.

Success Tips: Start a web site and related blog for free to gauge your readers’ responses and information needs. Write articles and post comments on blogs of similar topics to attract new customers and subscribers.

Suggested Resource:

*GreenBiz.com – Environmental business news.

These are just a few of the many eco-friendly, home-based businesses you might start (see sidebar also), even during a downturn economy. Take the time to find the right green business niche, plus learn how to operate your venture so it leaves few carbon footprints. Joining the globally-growing, earth-friendly movement will help put more green in your bank account, and provide the satisfaction that you are helping the world stay beautiful and prosperous for generations to come.

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