One reason behind this is the Global Pandemic struggle that so many people faced in obtaining some basic supplies at the height of the crisis, whether because of the general trade slowdown or market scarcity in general.
A second reason is that many people began to realize how important it is to provide for themselves somewhat. Luckily for the sustainability movement, this proved their thesis that buying and producing local goods is more environmentally friendly. It is also more resilient to the vicissitudes of the global economy. In other words, we need to stop thinking about how inexpensive we can make something halfway across the world and start thinking about how we can make it for ourselves.
The handmade and craft movement is one such expression sustainable business takes in 2021, but there are many others to consider. We will begin with a discussion of what we mean by sustainability and how that impacts the concept of sustainable business itself. Then we will offer you seven awesome sustainable business ideas for you to consider in 2021. Most of them require very little capital to start and provide a range of benefits, from getting a better end-product for daily use items to helping others see the benefits of sustainable living.
What is Sustainability?
Defining sustainability is not as hard as it is putting it into practice. Even so, it is a word that is often bandied about in different contexts with varying shades of meaning.
Before we can discuss sustainable business ideas, we have to describe what we mean by that concept. One of the best definitions of sustainability in terms of providing a conceptual framework comes from the University of California – Los Angeles’ Committee of Sustainability, which argues that it is a balance between the environment, equity, and the economy or, as they state in their charter, it is “the integration of environmental health, social equity, and economic vitality to create thriving, healthy, diverse and resilient communities for this generation and generations to come.”
In part, this takes inspiration from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, which asserts that
It is often cast in the light of anti-consumerism, but sustainability is quite the opposite: It is about making intelligent choices about what we consume and how it is produced. This impacts various areas from sourcing goods and services to the materials used to complete those jobs. It is both environmentally friendly and humanitarian. It seeks a fairer distribution of economic resources and opportunities to allow local artisans and entrepreneurs to grow and flourish while helping sustain and protect the environment.
A business centered around sustainability thus seeks to create wealth and economic resiliency through a framework of environmental practices that seek to preserve and nurture the communities we live in.
Sustainability and Business
What does this have to do with business? Sustainability is at the core of the handcrafts and do-it-yourself movement. Beyond that, it has spawned a range of services catering to everything from events to businesses that want to adhere to sustainable practices. In some regards, sustainability is about getting back to produce products and services in ways that make sense locally. Beyond that, it seeks to shift the more extensive economy to practices that preference environmental preservation, the usage of resources that can be recycled, and a vision for connecting the needs of modern society with these ideals. Towards this end, our sustainable business ideas meld the pragmatic and the entrepreneurial, with all of them tied together by the core tenets of sustainability. With that said, here are seven awesome sustainable business ideas that almost anyone can do and that require little to no capital to start:
One of the most popular ideas we’ve seen out there also looks like a little bit of fun and accommodates any budget to upcycle furniture. What does this mean? In short, it means giving something old and worn out a new life – and making a little bit of money in the exchange. To do this, people search for good, old used furniture that needs a little bit of love. Then they modernize it, maybe restrain it, paint it, or add new hardware. After that process, we get something new and different that looks way different from the shabby piece we had but is now fashionable and desirable. And depending on how good you are at this, you can potentially make some big bucks while recycling older furniture and making it more desirable in the process.
Make Eco-Friendly Handmade Products
From candles to quilts, there are a ton of things that you can make right at home and sell online on marketplaces such as Etsy. Candles are one popular, cost-effective thing to make that requires some artistry at the high-end but are easy enough for anyone to learn. And these aren’t just your regular old candles, either. From scented varieties to complex designs, handmade candles are a luxury and a boon to the environment at the same time.
Another nifty product you can make is a quilt. There are many different types of quilts out there that vary in complexity and skill required to complete them. That said, there’s still a blanket out there that anyone can make, including the many decorative braided varieties. You can source sustainable materials and dyes and sell them on marketplaces or at farmer’s markets.
Eco-Friendly Living Blogger
Do you have an Internet connection and a passion for educating others about an eco-friendly lifestyle? Become a blogger and Internet personality. One excellent aspect of this route is that it can lead to many other things, such as consulting work or even a full-time gig.
Of course, you also have all of the monetization options your typical blogger has, such as advertising, affiliate marketing, and partnerships. Still, you’re spreading knowledge about how to make the world a better place. Sustainability is a great idea, but people have to know about it and, further, know how to pursue it as a strategy. This is a cost-effective way to do just that.
Eco-Friendly Event Planner
People are always having events, whether it is a birthday party, wedding, or other occasions. One thing that is sorely lacking in the market is event planners who specialize in eco-friendly events.
A niche that is expected to grow with time, eco-friendly event planning involves the logistics of event planning with the overarching goals of sustainable business practices. An eco-friendly event planner not only knows what products work best for what occasion, but they also know who provides the services and skills in line with the ideals of sustainability.
If you can upcycle furniture, why not do it with bicycles? You can, and many people do. Refurbished bikes can offer consumers a better option than getting a store while using core materials that are well made and ready for a second life. One of the most common transportation methods around the world is a ton of unused, unwanted bikes out there, making this a natural business for the sustainability-minded person who has a flair for design and bike riding.
Sell Eco-Friendly Products
Maybe you aren’t the handiest or craft individual, but you have a knack for selling things. Then you should consider an online store or even brick-and-mortar play that sells eco-friendly products. You can source products from companies that meet your sustainability goals and curate them for an exacting clientele that is often willing to pay a little more for something they know contributes to a good cause.
Doing this will require sourcing and marketing on your part. You’ll want to tell stories about the products, how they are sustainable, and how the consumer is helping the world by purchasing these items. Think of it as a combination between lifestyle bloggers and eco-friendly consultants.
Become a Sustainability Consultant
Going beyond a blogger or online personality, a sustainability consultant offers a systematic approach to sustainability that works for large organizations and businesses. This may require some professional certification and training but, once achieved, you’re ready to go.
We like this path because it has everything the blogger option has and then some. Some people may struggle, though, because a consultant often offers insights into specific industries and their practices that wouldn’t make sense for most bloggers.
Beyond being more specific or niche-oriented, a consultant also knows how to balance a business’s needs, current market conditions, and sustainability goals in complex ways that speak to their professional credentialing.
Sustainable Business Ideas
These are but a few options in a world that has more and more focus on sustainability. If you have more ideas, we would love to hear from you and add them to the list.
If you already know what business you want to start, then we also have a quick and basic guide on how to build out your basic visual branding.
Let’s change the world for the better!