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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: 18 Eco-Friendly Business Ideas for Young Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship is on the rise, thanks in large part to young entrepreneurs like you who want to do more than start a business just to make money. A big concern for many social entrepreneurs is climate change. Thanks to you and your generation, the business landscape is changing for the better. There are green initiatives. More environment-friendly products. Stronger efforts to do better for future generations. 

Going green is more than lip service. It’s a state of mind and a way of life. For those of you ready to save the world – literally – one of these job ideas may be your key to entrepreneurial success. 

1. FASHION RESALE 

Start by taking your own old clothes and selling each piece online for cheap. Not only will you be helping to reuse items that would otherwise wind up in a landfill, but you’ll help others buy affordable clothes. 

2. GREEN CLEANING 

Grab a friend or two, invest in some organic cleaning products, and start cleaning houses or offices. 

Bonus: create and use your own organic cleaning products with ingredients like lemon juice and baking soda. 

Bonus-bonus: sell some of your own green cleaning products in fully recycled/recyclable/reusable materials. 

3. ORGANIC BEAUTY PRODUCTS 

Sites like Formula Botanica offer step-by-step guidelines for getting started making your own skincare products. Go the extra step for your customers by using sustainable materials for your packaging. 

4. BICYCLE REPAIR AND RESELL 

By now, it’s common knowledge that bikes are a thousand times better for the environment than cars. With a little startup capital, you can purchase old bikes, fix them up, and resell them.  

5. ENVIRONMENTAL BLOGGER 

Are you your family’s recycling expert? Have a keen eye for the different types of recyclable cardboard? Get online and start a blog. Share your expertise and advice with others. 

6. MAKE SUSTAINABLE HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS 

As more people go green, reusable products are becoming hot sellers. Almost anything that gets thrown away can have a reusable alternative that you can make and sell. Sew some reusable grocery bags or make your own water bottles. Take old clothes and turn them into washable cleaning rags. 

7. ECO-FRIENDLY MEAL-KIT SERVICE 

Meal-kit delivery service businesses are on the rise with no sign of slowing down. You can hop on that trend while providing a green alternative by preparing nutritious meals with organic, sustainable ingredients and delivering them to neighbors (on a bike, of course). By staying local, you eliminate your neighbors’ need to subscribe to meal kits that require long-distance shipping. 

8. KID AND PET TOYS 

Just looking at all the plastic and non-recyclable materials that go into kids’ and pets’ toys is enough to give anyone eco-anxiety. Do your part to counter that by creating toys from recycled materials. Old clothes can be cut into strips and braided into doggie toys. Wood and metal can be used to make kids’ toys.  

Bonus: collect gently used toys and resell them. 

Bonus-bonus: offer classes for parents and pet-owners on creating their own toys from recycled materials. 

9. MAKE YOUR OWN HERBAL TEA 

This idea takes some time and planning, but it’s worth the effort. From chamomile to black tea, you can grow your own plants and harvest the leaves. Sell your tea online or at a local farmers’ market. 

10. START A TOWN RECYCLING PROGRAM 

Maybe you feel that your town doesn’t do enough to recycle. Or maybe your town doesn’t have a recycling program at all. Start your own by renting a truck and enlisting a few friends. With a little research on where to take the recycled items, your business can take off quickly. 

11. TECH UPCYCLING 

Living in the age of technology is great, but it also produces a lot of waste. Start a business collecting old phones and laptops, refurbishing them, and reselling them for cheap. Or take them apart and sell the pieces for scrap. 

12. FOOD COMPOSTING 

Here’s an idea with little or no downside. Take food that’s been thrown out by grocery stores and restaurants – most of which is still perfectly fine – and compost it to sell to gardeners and landscapers.  

13. DESIGN AN APP 

Not everyone knows where their local recycling center is or wants to read the ingredients label on every product they buy. Apps are an ideal way to help consumers save time while they go green. 

14. PLANT DELIVERY 

Got a green thumb? Help customers pick out the perfect plants for their homes and gardens, then offer to pick up those plants from a wholesale nursery and deliver them by bike. 

15. ECO-FRIENDLY EVENT PLANNER 

Offer your services to your fellow young entrepreneurs with an eco-friendly event planning business. You can also help your school and local businesses with their events by providing things like seed paper for invites. 

16. FURNITURE RESALE 

As with reselling old clothes, you might want to start this one yourself. Since furniture takes up significantly more space than clothing does, it may be easier for you to run a website that helps connect buyers and sellers directly. 

17. ECO-CONSULTING 

For those of you young entrepreneurs who are more business-minded and less hands-on, why not offer your services as an eco-consultant? Simply by being Gen-Z, you likely know more about how to go green than some of the older generations around you. Brush up on the latest science and technology and go tell business owners how they can be greener. 

18. INK AND TONER CARTRIDGE REFILLING 

Printers eat up ink cartridges. And where do those cartridges go? Into the garbage. This quick video will teach you to start an ink and toner cartridge refilling business that can help save tons and tons of plastic each year. 

These are just a few ideas for starting your own eco-friendly business. We’re sure that as a young entrepreneur you have many more! Eco-entrepreneurship is a wonderful way to help out, have fun, and make money all at the same time. 

Click here to learn how the Kantner Foundation helps young entrepreneurs by offering college scholarships to Florida high school students. 


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