20 Sustainable Startup Ideas for Environmental Entrepreneurs

Hands holding a plant growing out of soil.

There’s no doubt that eco-friendly startups are the way of the future. If you’re an environmentally-conscious person with an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a green business could be right up your alley.

To get started, you need a great, sustainable startup idea. You’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a list of 20 startup ideas for green entrepreneurs to make an environmental impact and help the earth.

Recommended: Check out our full list of the best startup ideas and our guide on how to start a startup.

Best Ideas for Environmental Startups

1. Clean Energy

It’s no secret that clean energy is growing in both popularity and necessity. 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, it’s all within the realm of possibility.

Check out our interview with the founder of sustainable materials startup Hempitecture!

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.

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. Fair Trade Subscription Box

There are subscription boxes for everything these days. However, to lower costs, many businesses opt to sell products that the makers aren’t adequately compensated for. A fair trade subscription box startup provides the ease and excitement of a subscription box while introducing consumers to fairly traded, handcrafted products that they can rest easy about purchasing.

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 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.

Recommended: Check out our full list of startup ideas for food lovers.

7. Sustainable Clothing Line

Fashion is one of the most wasteful industries on the planet. If you’re thinking about starting a clothing line, consider making it a sustainable one! 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 and hemp.

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. 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.

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 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.

Check out our interview with the founder of sustainability software startup Bluebird Climate!

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. 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

If you know your way around a kitchen, concoct organic food products as your startup idea! The demand for organic alternatives to traditional products is growing every day. 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.

Check out our interview with greentech startup Handprint!

20. Crowdfunding Platform

Crowdfunding platforms are a useful tool for entrepreneurs, charitable causes, and individuals to raise money and reach their financial goals. 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.

Form Your Startup

Ready to formally establish your startup? Click below to read our review of the best business formation services!

Best Business Formation Services