If you wish to start a Green Business, you have a lot of shades of green to choose from. Alternative energy sources, earth friendly cleaning chemicals, eco car detailing, eco house cleaning, eco landscaping and personal products are only a few. For me, I have always been interested in how to reuse materials to create something new and wonderful. There is a plus to this thought from a business sense.
Sure, with the sudden rise and drop of oil and gas prices recently, our focus has been drawn again to alternative energy sources to run your vehicle, to heat your house or supply electricity. One thing that has statistically been shown is when times are hard, people still spend money. However, they spend their money more thoughtfully. This means that when it comes to personal purchases or gift purchases, they want to buy something with a story that makes them feel good. Enter your Green Business.
First, let's look at some feel good products out there that reuse old materials. Resource Revival creates gift items and home furnishings from recycled bicycle parts. The company purchases bike parts by the pound from bike shops and pays them a little more than they would get if recycling for scrap. Freitag creates wonderful bags from colorful recycled truck tarps. You can even create your own bag on their website.
I chose these two companies because they show the innovation possible with a little thought. If you plan your business to grow, then you want to have some sustainable model from the start. Resource Revival started by making bands from used inner tubes, which are in plentiful supply and branched out from there.
To get started, you want to try a few things with the lowest cost to you. When you hit upon the "right idea" that suits you and has you excited, then you will have to find sustainable sources for the materials. Both the above mentioned companies also have their items hand made, either in house or outsourced.
If you don't feel you have the ability or the desire to create something yourself, surround yourself with talented people who will create for you. When first starting out, this is best done by piecemeal, or paid per piece. You may want to pay a percentage of sales to one of your design team who designs an item that you then decide to bring to market. This keeps your costs down substantially. Later, you can add more and more employees.
I suggest starting with your local Industrial Materials Exchange. This is a place where individuals and companies can list items they have no use for anymore. Some of these materials are available on an ongoing basis as the results of a manufacturing process. Some ask for a nominal fee, while others are free. You can pick up everything from used clothes and scraps to chemicals to recycled building materials. The best part is, a company is allowed to write off on their taxes the same amount if they throw items out or if they donate them. It's a win-win. It also allows you to spark some creation ideas, and once you have hit upon your great green idea, you can contact other similar businesses and offer to remove their surplus items for free (and save them the hassle of storage and disposal) or to purchase them at a nominal fee.
An example of a great product idea is bamboo crates. For a long time, a company had re-occurring amounts of bamboo crates for free. They were divided into sections, so were made perfectly for storage like bookshelves, or drawers by adding baskets. These bamboo crates held product that was shipped to this company, so they had a surplus laying around. You could also, with a little creativity use the bamboo panels for other things like frames, boxes, painting canvas or display boards. The thing to keep in mind is that this has a great story, a sustainable supply and multiple uses so you could develop product into a series.
If manufacturing isn't your cup of tea, be the go-to place for certain products or materials that are recycled. Make sure to select the things you will resell carefully. Again, you want items that are either unique or sustainable. You want to be able to ship anywhere in the United States (or abroad). Some chemicals have strict guidelines as to who can ship them and how they should be shipped. You can choose a theme, perhaps appealing to the home crafter.
Keep in mind the man who contacted multiple businesses to remove their surplus packing peanuts. He re-marketed them into small bags for home use when eBay was just starting out. Before this one individual had the sense to do this, you had to purchase packing peanuts in huge quantities. Not that packing peanuts themselves are horribly eco friendly, but it is a good thing to reuse the ones that would have been thrown out. It also shows that sometimes the best answers are the most simple ones.