Best Ideas for Environmental Startups
1. Clean Energy
It’s no secret that clean energy is growing in both popularity and necessity, with the market growing alongside it at an estimated 15.7% compound annual growth rate from 2024 to 2030. A clean energy startup can be either a product or service that takes a green approach to produce energy, such as electricity-generating bicycles or solar paneling. Developing concepts and executing your business idea will require either knowledge of clean energy or the support of someone who has this knowledge.
2. Sustainable Construction Materials
Green construction materials are the future, and creating a startup focused on providing sustainable construction materials to manufacturers can be an excellent way to make a difference at the beginning of the supply chain. While removing pollution and cleaning up non-biodegradable materials at the end of the supply chain is incredibly important, the opportunities for developing sustainable materials have never been greater.
Whether you want to develop a new material that’s used within a specific type of industry or promote the use of existing sustainable and eco-friendly materials like this hemp-based brick company, it’s all within the realm of possibility.
3. Reusable Grocery Bags
Sustainability is at the forefront of many people’s minds these days; with more and more people looking for alternatives to wasteful plastic grocery bags, there is a good-sized market for a reusable grocery bag business. Plus, with over 100 states and localities requiring consumers to pay for disposable bags when shopping, more consumers are turning to reusable alternatives.
A couple of ways to make this startup idea your own are to create more functional bags (e.g., thermal capabilities, pockets, waterproof material, etc.) or design your bags to target a specific audience by identifying trends.
4. Eco-Friendly Subscription Box
The subscription box market has experienced rapid growth in recent years with no end in sight. The market is expected to reach $36.8 billion in 2024 and grow to $71.77 billion by 2028. An eco-friendly subscription box can be a scalable startup that allows your business to wholesale products from other sustainable brands. This means you can build a customer base that is excited to try new and exciting sustainable products without the time or cost of manufacturing them yourself.
5. Green Venture Capitalist
Starting a venture capital firm focused on investing in green, sustainable, and eco-friendly companies can be a great way to “put your money where your mouth is” and help encourage other founders to start sustainable companies. The possibilities in this space can include agriculture, forestry, building and construction materials, land development, geothermal energy, hydrogen energy, hydroelectric power, wind and solar, recycling, transportation, and more.
By investing in startups that focus on sustainable practices and being green before anything else, you can help make a difference in the companies of our future.
6. Eco-Friendly Bed-and-Breakfast
A sustainable bed and breakfast is a great idea for entrepreneurs with a love of food, hospitality experience, and rooms to spare. Making this classic business idea eco-friendly is as easy as changing your power source to something more sustainable, sourcing organic or locally grown ingredients, and furnishing your guests’ rooms with sustainable furniture.
7. Sustainable Clothing Line
The fashion industry is a major contributor to landfills, carbon emissions, and more negative impacts on the environment. A sustainable clothing line can make an impact by creating thoughtful garments that are long-lasting and ethically made out of sustainable materials such as linen, hemp, or renewable cotton. Fortunately, this industry’s projected market value growth is $10.22 billion in 2022 to $20.51 billion by 2030, meaning the demand for sustainable clothing is expected to increase by 9.1% over the next decade.
8. Eco-Friendly Marketing Services
Providing eco-friendly marketing services to companies can be an idea that’s potentially very well received, especially with the amount of plastic and non-biodegradable materials that are used to create marketing materials today due to their low cost. Plastic printed signs and wavy car wash flyers are a common occurrence today, but as soon as they’re thrown into the trash they have the potential to pollute our oceans and negatively impact the environment.
As a startup entrepreneur, you would come up with eco-friendly materials that marketers can use to advertise, and ensure that all of their marketing services are performed with the environment in mind.
Recommended: Looking for more inspiration to help you launch your company? Check out our list of the top startups to watch!
9. Green Cleaning Products
With more information available about chemicals used in standard cleaning products, we know that green cleaning products are better for the environment and the consumer. The demand for these products also tells a compelling story, with green cleaning products market size holding a $270.89 billion global valuation in 2022. A green cleaning products business creates a safe alternative to harsh chemicals and typically offers its products in eco-friendly packaging. Make your business stand out by offering refillable options, biodegradable packaging, and unique ingredients.
10. Green Beauty Products
Green or “clean” beauty products are increasing in popularity across the US as we learn more and more about the harmful effects of some ingredients in traditional beauty products. A green beauty product startup provides a better alternative, whether it’s clean skincare or cosmetics — the key is to create a product that is as effective as traditional products without the same damaging ingredients. A huge benefit to launching a startup in this industry is the wealth of beauty accelerators available to startups in the industry, such as Credo for Change, Tower28’s Clean Beauty Summer School, and Glow Recipe Mentorship.
11. Sustainability Management Software
Sustainability and ESG reporting software is quickly becoming an important part of businesses and corporations around the world, especially as there is a further push towards sustainable practices and helping the environment. Developing sustainability management software, such as Bluebird Climate, that allows companies and investors to track, measure, report, and manage their sustainability goals has the potential to be a great startup idea and future business venture. When corporations and companies around the world can see clear reports that show them how close they are to their green goals, they’ll be able to take action to improve their performance and become more sustainable in the process.
12. Herb Farm
If you cook at home, you most likely use herbs every day. Herb farms are a terrific green startup idea because they provide a widely used product and, depending on your location, are typically easy to grow in large quantities.
Ensure you have enough space to grow, dry, and package your products. Additionally, you can make this startup idea a little more unique by offering u-pick or living herbs, so customers can buy fresh herbs to take home with them.
13. Sustainable Ecommerce
Online shopping has become increasingly popular, especially as we’ve adjusted more and more to buying everything online. A great startup idea could be to develop a sustainable ecommerce marketplace that sells sustainable, ethical, and green products. Plus, if your idea has momentum, you may even be able to secure investment from an ecommerce venture capital firm such as Baroda Ventures or Tandem Capital.
Customers will be able to shop in your sustainable marketplace with peace of mind, knowing that everything they buy has been sourced with sustainability and eco-friendliness in mind. You can further describe your products and describe specifically how and why they were chosen for your sustainable marketplace, in order to encourage shoppers further and let them in on the story “behind the scenes.”
We've featured innovative sustainable ecommerce startup Mitticool on our YouTube channel. Check out the video below for some inspiration!
14. Energy Consulting
With more and more people and businesses looking for ways to cut their energy usage or switch to a more sustainable power source, an energy consulting business has immense potential for profitability.
Essentially, you will go over your customers’ energy use and develop a plan to make it more sustainable and lower their energy usage. Having contacts that you can refer clients to for alternative energy sources, such as solar power, is a great way to elevate this startup idea.
15. Gardening Goods
Starting a business that sells gardening goods and focuses on sustainability and the environment is potentially a great niche to enter as a startup founder. Promoting gardening and growing your own food, as well as how this can impact the environment, will allow your customers to understand how they’re contributing to being green and allow them to take part in being sustainable in their gardens. To take it a step further, you can develop gardening goods and products that are free of plastics, are biodegradable and don’t harm the environment in the long run.
16. Environmental Blog
If you could talk about environmental topics or share eco-friendly life swaps every day, consider starting an environmental blog! All you need is a website, proficient photography skills, and the ability to write and engage readers. To make your blog stand out, find your niche early on. Your blog will focus on the environment, but consider how you can narrow your focus further.
17. Organic Food Products
The demand for organic alternatives to traditional products is growing every day – which is likely why the organic food and beverage market is valued at a staggering $208.19 billion globally as of 2022. Start by recreating a favorite food, condiment, or spread using organic products — or developing a completely new recipe of your own. This type of startup typically gets its start at farmers markets and local grocery stores, so you’ll need to be able to dedicate time to sell your products in person.
18. Sustainable Travel Planning
Travel and lodging is an industry that doesn’t often have sustainability in mind, especially due to the pollution caused by travelers who aren’t socially conscious or environmentally conscious. A sustainable travel planning startup will focus on creating vacation itineraries that are green at their core, traveling shorter distances in order to reduce environmental impacts, and staying longer in single destinations instead of rapidly hopping between multiple cities on a single trip.
This idea can be taken even further by booking sustainable lodging and ensuring nonstop flights are used for travelers whenever possible, reducing the number of travel legs they take and the fuel consumed by aircraft.
19. Green App
Do you have an idea for an app that can make a daily task a little more eco-friendly? If yes, consider starting a green app development startup. Most of us use apps every day to make errands and tasks easier, so why not use the same technology to make them a little more green?
If you don’t already have an idea in mind, start by considering everyday, widespread problems that could be solved or a daily activity that could be made more green by using an app, and run with your ideas. Once you develop your green app idea, consider joining an incubator or accelerator like Techstars or Codebase to help bring your idea to life.
20. Crowdfunding Platform
Crowdfunding platforms are a useful tool for entrepreneurs, charitable causes, and individuals to raise money and reach their financial goals. With rapid growth in this market, including a 16% CAGR from 2022 to 2023, this industry holds a great deal of opportunity for entrepreneurs. To create a successful crowdfunding platform that is able to compete with other trusted platforms, you’ll need to create a unique idea or function that sets your platform apart. This could be a network of investors, advertisement opportunities, or specified crowdfunding topics such as real estate.
21. Bicycle Repair
With consumers looking to lessen the use of fossil fuels by commuting via bicycle, a bicycle repair business might be a winning venture. You can either opt to launch a standard brick-and-mortar bike shop or get a little more creative, such as offering mobile bicycle repair, creating a user-friendly line of bicycle repair products, or upcycling bicycles that are no longer working.
22. Upcycled Furniture
Upcycling furniture has grown in popularity in recent years, with creators taking to social media to share and sell their furniture flips. Upcycling furniture can be a lucrative side hustle or a full-blown business. To get started, you will need tools for sanding and removing old paint or finishes, as well as additional products to stain and refinish the furniture yourself. Most successful furniture upcyclers pay attention to trends and attempt to replicate popular styles to increase customer interest.
23. Electric Mobility
Electric vehicle startups are rapidly developing alternatives to traditional cars and methods of transport to offer a more eco-friendly choice. These business ideas aren’t limited to cars though. Electric mobility may include electric scooters or bicycles, charge stations, EV battery replacement services, or commercial electric mobility solutions. With electric vehicles tripling their share of sales from 2020 to 2022, this market is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to innovate and disrupt.
24. Green Finance
Green financial planners help customers place their money into causes they care about. Whether that is green bonds, climate solutions, or other climate-friendly causes, green investment advisors assist in creating a climate-friendly investment portfolio and divest from non-sustainable investments such as fossil fuels.