20 Brilliant Green Business Ideas


An environmentally friendly business shows a real commitment to sustainability and community well-being. As consumers become increasingly aware of the need for sustainable business practices, green business is becoming big business. In 2019, the green economy accounted for $1.3 trillion in revenue and created 9.5 million full-time jobs in the USA.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the green revolution is gaining momentum and now is the time to become a part of the South African green economy. Remember the mantra: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle, when you are looking for green opportunities. Here are some eco-friendly business ideas to get you thinking:

1. Waste recycling

Collecting and sorting recyclable waste on behalf of small businesses and residential estates… glass, paper, tin, and recyclable plastic is a cash source otherwise headed for the landfill.

2. Energy and water management services

Sourcing, installing and maintaining the equipment needed to become energy efficient and water-wise, along with the necessary consulting and reporting services.

3. Composting

Collecting food and garden waste for organic compost can turn a tidy profit. Most business parks and residential estates don’t have the space or know-how to do this, yet there is an increasing interest in being part of the solution, not the problem.

4. Environmental Blog / Website / Facebook page

This is an opportunity to educate people on the green alternatives to everyday needs such as toiletries and cleaning products and to show people where to source these products. As your readership grows, so will your ability to monetise your site.

5. Package-free or eco-friendly packaging

There is a strong consumer push to reduce single-use packaging and plastic. Businesses are looking for solutions, especially in light of the increase in demand for delivered goods. Can you meet the need?

6. All-natural or organic products

Our kitchens and bathroom cupboards are a repository for a frightening array of toxic chemicals that we gaily add to our bodies and or pour down the drain, and so into our water system. Sadly, most of these products are also packaged in plastic. Offer green toiletry and cleaning alternatives in sustainable packaging and better still, support local crafters in your shop.

7. Electronic and large trash items collection

Help eco-minded consumers by collecting large trash items (e.g. appliances) and /or electronic waste and disposing of them properly.

8. Farmer’s market vendor

A lot of our carbon footprint is incurred through non-organic farming methods and long-distance distribution of food. If you grow or make food from organic ingredients, you can sell your produce at local farmers’ markets.

9. Organic caterer

A way of carving a niche in the catering industry is to specialise in organic and sustainable food options; especially if you can support community and fair trade suppliers at the same time.

10. Indigenous landscaping services

If you have the proverbial ‘green fingers’, specialise in local, indigenous and water-wise garden services. In addition, you could consult businesses on indoor plants that naturally ‘clean the air’.

11. Eco-Friendly spa

Beauty products are typically filled with chemicals and environmentally harmful materials. Target eco customers by offering all-natural products, saving you money and making your spa unique.

12. Furniture recycling and upcycling

Furniture is a product that uses a lot of materials and is high in terms of carbon footprint. However,  you can reduce that impact by repurposing, upcycling and recycling other materials in the production process.

13. Thrifting / Vintage clothes

Vintage clothing is becoming the new black!  Consignment clothes and glammed-up older classic pieces are very popular.

14. Green app developer

Develop a mobile app to source and advertise green businesses or to assist consumers to find eco-friendly solutions.  

15. Green cleaning service

Build a niche cleaning service that is people, planet and pet-friendly.

16. Eco-friendly toy shop

Create and sell toys that are made with eco-friendly or recycled materials.

17. Organic florist

Stand out from the crowd and offer only organic or sustainably grown flowers and plants.

18. Gift basket service

Gift baskets are still a popular option, especially if they have the added feel-good factor of supporting local vendors that offer green or organic products.

19. Eco bed and breakfast

Allow your guests to rest comfortably in the knowledge that everything you do in the BnB is sustainable and offer only organic food and drinks.

2. Eco restaurants

Open a restaurant that practices energy saving, waste control, composting and uses only locally sourced, organic food.

The Green Rand may be just the helping hand your business needs!

 By Janet Askew


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