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8 Green Small Business Ideas & Opportunities

By Heather Levin

green hair small businessIf you’re looking for ways to earn some extra money, you might want to think about starting a green side business.

Not only is having a green business a great way to set yourself apart from your competition, but it also makes you more memorable in the minds of your potential customers.

So what exactly is a green business, you ask? Here are 8 examples you can start with right away.

Go Green Small Business Ideas

1. Get into Worm Farming

I’m really into vermicomposting. If you are too, then you could start a side business selling your compost, and your worms, to gardeners and fisherman. Compost, especially organic compost, is really expensive to buy in home improvement stores. Your neighborhood gardeners would love to pay a cheaper price for your compost, though!

You could also hold classes and teach others how to get into vermicomposting.

composting shovel

2. Make Organic Soap

Making soap isn’t as hard as a lot of people think. This is a side business I’m thinking of starting myself this summer, and I’ve already started researching on what I need to get it going.

The cool thing about homemade soap is that you can make it really unique. For example, you can make goat’s milk soaps, organic soaps, herbal soaps, aromatherapy soaps…the world is your oyster! You can sell your homemade soaps at farmers’ markets, crafts fairs, and online through marketplaces like Etsy and eBay.

organic soap

3. Create Organic Gardens for Small Spaces

Thanks to the down economy, and an increasing concern about food safety and pesticide use, more and more people are getting into home gardening. But, it can be overwhelming, especially to those who have never started seeds from scratch or tried to pick out vegetables to grow.

You could build an awesome side business by doing all of this work for them. You could sell “garden packs” prepared for beginners, especially those who want to get into container gardening. If you have a green thumb and love planting, this would be a fun and rewarding side business to get into.

small home garden

4. Become a Green Consultant

You’ve probably heard time and time again that “going green” often means you “save green.” The savings can be significant, especially for businesses and corporations.

Green consultants are popping up everywhere. These consultants do a thorough evaluation of a home or business, and then put together a strategy to help people find ways to go green and save money.

For instance, you might discover a homeowner is losing a lot of energy because she doesn’t have enough insulation in the attic and her weatherstripping is shot. You’ll help purchase green energy technologies that help them save energy, start a recycling program, and be more efficient in general.

One way to get started is to check out Green Irene Eco Consultants. For $350, you get a full online training package, as well as plenty of support and materials to help you start your eco consulting business.

Some technical schools and adult education classes will also teach you how to be a green consultant. Or, you could also go the DIY route, and study on your own.

green business consultant

5. Make Soy or Beeswax Candles

Did you know that traditional candles often release harsh or even toxic chemicals into the air? Soy and beeswax candles are natural, especially when they’re scented with essential oils. They also burn slower and purer than paraffin wax, and they don’t leave any smoke residue on your walls or in your ventilation system.

If you love candles, then making soy or beeswax candles could be a fun way to earn some extra cash on the side. You can sell your candles online at Etsy or eBay, or at your local farmers’ market.

beeswax candles

6. Start a Community Lending Library

Are you one of those people who have every tool ever invented? Or, do you have a movie collection to rival Netflix?

If so, you could be earning money on the side by renting those items out. Small, community lending libraries are popping up all over the country. Some of them are free, but others are subscription services. Items are loaned out locally, usually within one neighborhood or a certain mile-radius.

Why is this a green business? Well, imagine you need a powerwasher for a day. Some people go out and buy one. But if you know you can rent your neighbor’s powerwasher for cheap, then you’ll do this instead of dropping $100 or more on your own. Lending libraries help reduce consumption, as well as helping your friends and neighbors save money.

happy neighbors

7. Get into Green Crafting

One of my most treasured possessions is a fabulous, elfin-like coat I got on Etsy. The coat is 100% handmade entirely from recycled sweaters. It’s incredible.

Green crafting has huge appeal for people, and you can make an incredible living selling upcycled art, clothing, and jewelry. For instance, the woman I bought my coat from sells each one for $250-$400. She’s had over 3,300 sales, just on Etsy. And her coats sell out within seconds after she puts them up.

Another artist I know takes brightly colored vintage Tupperware containers and turns them into amazing lamps and light fixtures. Another artist takes sea glass she finds on the shore and turns it into beautiful, minimalist jewelry.

There are tons of creative and unique ways to upcycle something old into something new. If you’re lacking ideas, then surf Etsy to look for ideas, or head over to sites like Instructables or ReadyMade, both of which are full of ideas.

upcycled coat sweaters

8. Goat Rentals

Think I’m kidding here? I’m not. If you have enough land to support a small herd of goats, you could be making some easy side money. Why would someone want to rent a goat?

Here’s a personal story. My family’s farm in Louisiana sits right up against a bayou that’s thick with poison ivy, snakes, and mosquitoes. The dense brush also attracts plenty of deer and other wildlife, which attracts the local black bears. Because of the denseness of the trees, it’s really hard to get in there to clear the brush out with the tractor.

So what’s my dad going to do? Hire out a herd of goats to clean it up, of course.

Goats eat anything: poison ivy, bushes, brambles…you name it. And they’re amazing for clearing out places like the bayou, or steep slopes you can’t get a mower down. All you have to do it set up a portable fencing and let them eat their way through the brush over several days. The best part is that unlike a tractor or lawn mower, goats don’t harm the environment.

goat herd grazing

Final Word

There’s no doubt that the green economy is only going to grow, especially as energy and gas prices rise further. Having a green side business means you’re likely to stand out, and even be more appealing to potential customers.

Do you have any green ideas for a small business?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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