After a completely random landing on a sustainable lifestyle blog, Hole in the Fence (a really good read, btw), I ended up following a link to The Nature Conservancy’s website. And, since the space time continuum apparently stopped while I was surfing the web, I decided that I had a burning need (and unlimited amounts of time) to use their Carbon Footprint Calculator.
Our family, it appears, puts out about 39 tons of carbon per year. Considering the national average is over 50 tons, we’re doing pretty good. I guess we can do better but that’s another post.
What the Carbon Footprint Calculator did, though, was get me thinking about all the things that we can do to be green, business wise. As a matter of fact, now would be a good time to start up a small green business. Not only would you be doing a service for others but you’d be helping the planet and making a living at it, too. Not a bad set of circumstances.
So, without further ado, here are five green small business ideas that you can get started with:
1. Worm Farming - otherwise known as vermicomposting. Okay, it’s not glamorous since we are, after all, talking about worm poop. And you have to really like wiggly slimy things but worms are Nature’s recyclers and, according to my husband, vericompost fertilizer is the tops for any garden (notice how I avoided writing “its the s**t). Here’s more information about vermicomposting to get you started:
- Worm Farms and Vermicomposting
- Ups and Downs of Wormfarming Keep Georgia Farmer on His Toes
- Making a Worm Farm
- Vermicomposting (PDF)
2. Small Space Gardening – This is a very cool idea for those of you who have a knack for gardening. Here are a couple ideas: put together seed packets and instruction booklet for people in your climate zone, go to peoples’ homes and take care of their gardens, set up patio gardens for apartment dwellers for a fee, set up and run a community garden (if you have the room on your property), etc. You may want to start with The Edible Garden (book by Sunset) or the National Gardening Association.
3. Solar Panel Rentals – Sounds weird but it actually does exist. The upfront costs of solar panels is a little steep, to say the least, but if you can rent them from someone, the rental price is typically lower than the energy bill from the big power company. To start up a solar panel rental business, you’ll need to know your solar technology. Take some classes, install your own, install some for others, read about it, etc. Additionally, you’ll need to be located in a sunny spot with decent solar subsidies to really make a go of it. Of the green businesses discussed in this post, this is the most expensive upfront but one with the longest lasting impact.
- U.S. Homeowners Can Now Rent Solar Panels, Saving Money
- Rent Solar Panels (gives you a basic idea of how the rental biz works)
- How to Start a Solar Energy Business (cost effectively)
4. Green Clothing – Renewable sourced clothing is very hot right now plus it’s good for the environment. And, if you focus on pet clothing, you may have a niche market. Or, you could source the fibers for others to use in their projects (think organic cotton, bamboo, soy, and hemp). If you want to go the route of making clothing, you’ll need to know how to sew really well. So, this particular business is not for me but it might be for you!
- Daisie Janie (maker of organic cottons; small business on Etsy)
- Envirotextiles (wholesale hemp fabrics)
- PM Organics (started and run by WAHMs!)
- The Bamboo Fabric Store
- The Wool Peddler (recycled silk saris are made into yarn)
5. Going Green Consultant – Why not help other businesses become greener and environmentally responsible? Any business can go green, from the office supplies to investments to business practices. All you need to do is take your passion for helping the environment and apply it in a new direction.
It goes without saying that you’ll need some business sense and elbow grease to get any small business going. However, if you have a passion for sustainability and for helping others, then I say go for it! Do your research and touch base with your local Small Business Administration or SCORE office for help (if you need it).