Green Business Ideas for Entrepreneurs

Business Ideas for Green Entrepreneurs

Smiling businessman hugging globe at desk in office
Coming up with green business ideas. Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

A “green” business strives to have a positive impact on the environment and community. It develops and practices business strategies that go beyond regulation and demonstrate commitment to a healthy and sustainable future (

As someone thinking of starting a small business, a green business has two advantages over other kinds of businesses:

  1. Environmentalism is growing rapidly so you will be targeting a growing market. German-based Roland Berger Strategy Consultants estimates that the global market volume for "environmental technologies" will reach a projected $2,740 billion by 2020.
  2. Starting a green business can be particularly satisfying as you get to make your own contribution to making the world a better place.

Here are what I think are the best green business ideas for entrepreneurs.

1) Help them grow it. Gardens for Small Spaces

The growing concern about where our food comes from and what's been done to it is translating into increasing numbers of people who want to grow their own food, wherever they live. There are a number of ways to develop small-space gardening ideas into businesses:

  • Produce "garden-paks", small collections of seeded plant trays that would fit on the smallest balcony and allow people to grow their own vegetables.
  • On a larger scale, as a garden designer you could specialize in rooftop garden installations.
  • Create a green business focusing on products that will help people grow their own food, such as greenhouses suitable for residential homes or ecological pest controls. A 2014 study by the National Gardening Association revealed that one in three households in the U.S. where growing their own vegetables, fruits, berries, or herbs.
  • Worm farming and organic compost sales are other green gardening business ideas that might work for you.

2) Help them cut energy costs. Solar Power Generation and Solar Water Heating Systems

The cost of traditional energy continues to rise - making green business ideas related to saving energy and cutting energy costs a safe bet for now and into the future.

Solar water heating systems can provide significant energy cost savings (providing up to 70% of a family's hot water when properly installed, according to some distributors).

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar power installations in the U.S. grew at an annual rate of 59% between 2006 and 2016, helped by subsidies such as the Solar Investment Tax Credit. The installation of rooftop solar panels and the tie in to household/commercial electrical systems requires a lot of expertise and businesses that provide this service are flourishing.

If either of these green business ideas appeals to you Natural Resources Canada's Solar Thermal and Solar Photovoltaic Energy information sites provide excellent information on the topic.

3) Help them clean it. Eco-friendly Cleaning Products

From laundry through vehicles, things have to be cleaned. But people are a lot more sensitive to what's being poured down the drain and want to be able to get the sparkle without the environmental strain. One green business idea to help them accomplish this is to sell environmentally friendly cleaning products. This is another green business idea that could work well as an ecommerce site. (See 8 Easy Ways to Get Your Small Business Into Ecommerce).

Going green is also a great marketing strategy for a cleaning business. Commercial and residential cleaning businesses are still "hot" business ideas as the demand for cleaning services is still growing. Using only eco-friendly cleaning products in your cleaning business could give you a competitive edge.

Note: Also watch for the commercialization of "virtually waterless" cleaning. Researchers at the University of Leeds have developed a new way of cleaning clothes using less than 2% of the water and energy of a conventional washing machine.

4) Help them find it locally. Local Eco-alternatives

Books like the 100-Mile Diet have inspired many people to think carefully about where their food is grown and the negative environmental effects of consuming products that may be shipped from thousands of miles away.

People want local eco-friendly alternatives to the products they've been using. To service this need farm markets have been proliferating in North America, selling everything from locally raised beef, pork or poultry to locally made soaps and cleaning materials. Talk to your local farm market association or butcher store about selling your product locally.

5) Show them what needs to be done. Green Consulting

As the price of energy goes up and being green becomes increasingly popular, more individuals and businesses want to become greener but don't know what the best course of action is. So green consulting is a business idea whose time has come.

Green consultants put together an action plan for their clients by examining their client's environment and analyzing their environmental strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a home or business may be using a lot more energy than necessary for heating or cooling because of a lack of weather-stripping, insulation, or improperly installed HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems.

Some green consulting businesses also offer event management. The green business idea is that the consulting company will see to it that every aspect of the event, from advertising through waste management, is handled in the most environmentally friendly way.

6) Help them get there. Scooters and Bikes

Transportation is another venue of change for many people, whose need to go green is strengthened by increasingly high prices at the pump. Scooters and bikes are a very appealing "all-in-one" solution; as a scooter or bike rider you get to save money, be environmentally friendly, and, if you get the kind of bike that needs pedaling, improve your health, too!

As electric/gas scooters and electric bikes continue to increase in popularity, becoming a dealer might be the business idea you've been looking for. Statista estimates that by 2023 electric bicycle sales will reach 40 million units. If you don't want to start a dealership from scratch there are a number of franchise opportunities available.

If you live in an urban area, renting out bikes and scooters might also be a profitable green business.

7) Help them build green. Green Building

Green building is a trend rife with possibilities for starting new green businesses. Construction companies, architects, designers and contractors can specialize in green building. For instance, a contractor might become a LEED certified professional; a designer might focus on elements and materials that are the least environmentally destructive.

And green building calls for all kinds of green products that could become the foundation of your new small business, from water-saving toilets through salvaged wood (and solar water heating systems).

Learn more about LEED Canada (the environmental rating system used as a standard for new construction and major renovations) at the Canada Green Building Council website.

Green Businesses Deliver More Than Profits

Hopefully these green business ideas have got you excited about the possibilities. You may not become rich but you will have the pleasure of running a business that helps people lead greener lives and combining what you do with what you believe in.

Where to From Here