World Entrepreneur Day is celebrated in August. “What's that got to do with zero waste?”, you may ask. The thing is, the zero waste philosophy isn’t a personal choice anymore. It’s a necessity for our consumerist world. Thankfully, a lot of people understand this and are demanding zero waste products and services more and more. They don’t want to buy a product just for what it is, but also consider its environmental impact before purchasing. According to the research, 72% of respondents now buy more eco-friendly goods than they did five years ago. Hence, a brand’s environmental footprint is equally as important for customers as reasonable prices and high quality. So, if you’re dreaming of working for yourself but are lost as to how, here are some brilliant small zero waste business ideas. Save nature and make money at the same time!
Herbs and spices are often sold in tiny plastic or multi-material packaging. Mostly, such packaging is unrecyclable and ends up in landfills. Even if their containers are designed to be refilled, it is generally hard to find herbs and spices in bulk.
If you are good at gardening, you can grow herbs from seeds or sprouts and sell them in pots. For example, you can grow mint, basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, chives and thyme, and your customers will always have fresh herbs to make their dinner taste brighter. Without a single piece of plastic!
A bicycle is a perfect option to get around the city with a low carbon footprint. But if it is broken and thrown away, a bicycle causes a double problem: wasted resources and land pollution.
If you can disassemble and put a bike together with your eyes closed, it’s your destiny to save eco-vehicles from landfill! Your repair services will be always in demand as bicycles need regular maintenance to prevent breaks. You can get the most environmental profit from your business if you collect broken bikes that can’t be repaired for spare parts and recycling.
Single-use plastic is the evil we have to fight. After being “useful” for just a few minutes, it becomes a weapon in landfills and open environments. Single-use plastic packaging and products are the most common waste found in oceans, where they kill marine creatures. Check our previous article to find out more about the threats posed by plastic.
If you’re fond of crafts, you can help people reduce their consumption of disposables. Offer your customers tote bags, drawstring bags for fruit and vegetables, knitted dishcloths or bees wrap. You can work with clients directly or offer your goods in local shops.
80.2% of furniture waste generated by Americans in 2017 went to landfill and one-third of people in the UK threw away furniture rather than selling or donating it. We are faced with such disappointing statistics because furniture is often a multi-material item, containing a mix of metal, glass, wood and different types of plastic. It is time-consuming and expensive to separate and recycle materials, so such services aren’t widespread.
Giving a new life to an old cupboard or armchair will do a huge favour to nature (quite literally huge, considering the average size of a piece of furniture). You can start with smaller wooden furniture, making it look fresh and modern, and develop your renovation skills to embark upon more difficult orders. If you have a car, you can even offer a free collection service for unwanted furniture to practice on, and then sell the refurbished ones.
If you are tech-minded, your skills can become a valuable tool in solving environmental problems. For example:
As we are talking about business rather than social projects, you’ll need to find a suitable way to monetise your app. This could be through a subscription to your services, a “freemium” (free and paid versions) offering, the in-app purchases model, or the partnership model.
Across the globe, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year, emitting 25 million tonnes of CO2. At the same time, the majority of people don’t have access to municipal composting facilities. Thankfully, more and more people want to bring these numbers down. That’s why home composters are gaining popularity.
A good composter needs voracious worms to make the process faster. Help eco-conscious people by breeding special worms for composting. You can also sell the valuable fertiliser for home plants and gardens that you’ll get through the process of growing the worms. You can make your business even more eco-friendly by collecting organic waste from businesses and households to compost while you grow them.
There is a frightening tendency in the world to use more liquid handwash than bar soap. What’s so bad about that? It is estimated that people use a 6 times greater quantity of liquid soap than bar soap, every time they wash their hands. Hence, you need to buy liquid soap more often. Besides, liquid soap has a higher ratio of water to active agent, so it is heavier and requires more energy to transport. And lastly, seeing as refill options are not common even in big cities, a plastic dispenser always comes with your liquid soap. Although you can sometimes recycle the bottle, the pump is practically unrecyclable.
Try to make your own soap and sell it without any packaging (bacteria can’t survive on the soap’s surface, so it is safe) or use an easily recyclable package. Even better, go beyond hand soap and make dishwashing soap, pet soap or shampoo bars. Help make soap bars popular again.
If you’ve been practicing a zero waste lifestyle for a long time, you’ve probably found yourself thinking that everyone already knows why plastic is bad and how we must prevent waste pollution. But they don’t. Raising waste-related awareness is extremely important.
Choose the platform that suits you best: a traditional blog, Instagram page, YouTube vlog, podcast, etc. Grow your audience and share your personal tips on how to live a zero waste life. You can earn money by offering advertisements, selling helpful guides and courses, or taking donations.
One of the reasons for waste pollution is overconsumption. People buy more than they need, while resources are shrinking. Each year, scientists track the day of the year when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth will regenerate during the entire year—known as Earth Overshoot Day. In 2022, this day was 28 July. For the rest of the year, we live in debt. At our current rate of consumption, we would need 1.75 Earths to satisfy our resource appetite.
You can be part of the solution! People won’t need to buy a new product if they know they can rent it! Share and rent out power tools, children's toys and baby products, travel accessories, or any other expensive products people only need for a short period.
It is often a tricky quest to find zero waste alternatives to usual single-use goods. Eco-conscious people have to waste hours searching for luffa sponges or metal straws.
Try to make the zero waste lifestyle more popular and easier for people in your area! An online shop can be a simple option to start. If you find local producers, you’ll prevent transport emissions and unnecessary packaging of goods as well. Don’t miss the opportunity to show off at local events and fairs to find more interested customers.
Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be difficult and take up all your time. But it brings a lot of benefits too. In addition to financial freedom, you’ll get a wonderful feeling from making our planet a better (and cleaner) place to live. Take a chance and change the world!