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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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