December 18, 2014

4 Blossoming Green Business Opportunities

It’s gotten harder to stand out as an eco-friendly business. As more startups and established businesses aim to be “green,” it’s not such a differentiating factor anymore in certain industries. That said, there are still many types of environmentally sustainable businesses for which demand is growing.

flower earth

Here’s a look at four:

Organic and Sustainably Produced Foods

Consumers spend a lot of time eating, and far more are choosing organic and sustainably produced foods. U.S. sales of organic food and beverages grew from a $1 billion industry in 1990 to $29.2 billion in 2011, according to the Organic Trade Association. And it’s not slowing down, with nearly 9.5% growth last year, according to OTA.  There is no sign of that changing, as more consumers turn to healthier foods and demand grows among schools and other institutions. Business opportunities can be found in the agriculture, food production and restaurant industries. (Read more about necessary steps to starting an organic food business on the Small Business Administration’s website.)

Transportation

Have an idea or technology to help people walk or take public transportation more or use less gasoline? Now may be the time to test-drive it. From businesses like Walk Score, which ranks neighborhoods on their walkability, to electric car makers and ride-sharing  services, businesses that help consumers wean themselves off gasoline are getting more mileage these days. The World Economic Forum recently released a report about the great need for more sustainable transportation, despite the economic challenges. Many cities are seeking transportation alternatives as a way to reduce carbon emissions and be greener.

Green Apps

Smartphones allows consumers to easily access software – “apps” – that can help them in a variety of ways, including becoming eco-friendlier. Demand for such “green apps” will likely keep growing as more consumers buy smartphones and tablets and realize the benefits of using such programs. (The Department of Energy recently held a competition called Apps for Energy to find the best app that helped consumers assess their energy use and use less. Read about the winner, Leafully.)

Share Economy

As I previously wrote, there’s an emerging “share economy.” Instead of buying a new lawn equipment or cars or sports gear, people are increasingly looking to rent and borrow things, whether it is from other people or from businesses. Startups and established businesses can take advantage of this trend by creating web sites and apps that facilitate these transactions and make it easier for people to find willing lenders or borrowers.

Any green business opportunities you’re seeing right now?


Blossom Earth Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼

Kelly Spors


Kelly Spors Kelly Spors is a former small-business and entrepreneurship reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal who has also written for Yahoo!, Entrepreneur, NFIB's MyBusiness magazine and The New York Times. Kelly is now a freelance editor and writer based in Minneapolis and has previously managed communications for an environmental non-profit that helps businesses find ways to be greener.

6 Reactions

  1. Its exciting to know there are emerging new ways to “Go Green”. WE especially like the Green Apps. The app development industry and the Smartphone/Tablet industries can mutually prop each other up through their innovations. The more people use Smartphones/Tablets, the more they’ll demand green apps. The more green apps are developed, the more Smartphones/Tablets will be required to utilize these apps.

    The widespread use of technology [PC’s, laptops, Smartphones, Tablets] reduces the drain on our natural resources and translates into less and less consumption of paper & paper products by individuals, businesses, organizations, etc. WE, at AgooBiz, have always maintained an eco-conscious work culture [even back when my team and I were still in the pre-launch planning stages working from our homes].

    There’s nothing wrong with keeping an eco-friendly business while making a profit.

    Informative article – thanks!

    Steve Kavetsky
    Co-Founder/Pres.
    AgooBiz.com // The Social Commerce Network
    WE work greater than me

  2. “It’s gotten harder to stand out as an eco-friendly business”
    There is a massive surge in green/eco businesses and the above statement may appear to be true, but in reality a high % of eco- friendly businesses just use greenwashing to exaggerate their green credentials and the consumer just sees throe their rhetoric, true green businesses will always stand out.

  3. Being eco-friendly also means creating consciousness in our own staff. Create incentives for those that use electric cars, bikes or scooters. Incentives (reserved parking?) for car-pooling. Recycling in the office.

  4. Jason WE totally agree. Businesses should use incentives for their employees’ green initiatives. Positive reinforcement is the best way to get people to improve their habits.

  5. TRUE!! Thats why when Evergreen Cleaning offers our services we let our clients know about the Tax breaks they can earn for using us, a Green Cleaning Company!!

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