Ideas for Ethical and Sustainable Businesses (and How to Make them a Reality)
Today’s consumers are more conscious than ever. Research shows that a majority of people would prefer to buy product that are produced in an ethical or sustainable way, or that support communities or the environment in some other way. This means that ethical and sustainable businesses can be very lucrative, and this profitability is only set to increase in the future.
Not to mention, of course, that by running a business that is ethical and sustainable you have the very real possibility of having a positive impact on people and the environment.
If you’re looking to launch a business that also makes a positive impact on people and the environment, check our ideas below for ethical sustainable businesses, as well as how to go about launching your business.
Ethical and Sustainable Business Ideas
Ethical Fashion Label
Fast fashion has come under the spot light in recent years, as we start to realise the devastating impacts that cheap clothes have through the supply chain, from child labor to pollution. The solution to this is ethical fashion, clothes, shoes and accessories which are produced to ethical and environmental standards. There is a growing consumer appetite in this market as people look for labels that are ethical, and are in many cases willing to pay more for these values.
Microfinance is a powerful way to support disadvantaged communities and individuals. For many people, especially those living in developing countries, even a small injection of capital can make a huge difference for entrepreneurs to start their own business. Micro-financing is a great business idea in itself and one that can do a great deal to support social and environmental enterprises.
Organic Food Products
Food production and in particular mass food production is one of the greatest threats to the environment today. “Normal” food production pollutes the environment with pesticides, fertilisers and other chemicals, as well as significantly contributing to climate change by clearing forests. Organic food is all about growing and producing food using techniques that minimise harm to the natural environment. Organic food businesses could sell whole foods such as fruit, vegetables or grains, or products made from these ingredients, whether meals, sauces, drinks, or something else. Organic catering and organic cafes are other opportunities in this space.
The construction industry is one of the sectors with the most potential for eco-friendly growth. The industry’s primary construction material, concrete, has been named the most destructive material in the world due to its extreme adverse impacts. Eco-friendly construction materials are now being developed, such as those using recycled plastic, bamboo, straw and plant-based polyurethane. Like other sectors, customers are starting to look or eco-friendly construction options, which represents a great deal of potential for any business dealing in eco-construction materials.
Ink Refill Service
As businesses become more eco-conscious, this is opening up great opportunities for office supply businesses. In particular, ink refill services for printer cartridges are a very lucrative business idea, as well as being great for the environment. Ink cartridges are a major contributor to the world’s plastic problem, adding to the mountains of plastic in landfill and the environment.
Eco-Friendly Beauty Salon
The cosmetics industry is another sector that has incredibly adverse impacts on the environment, animal and people. The production processes for the cosmetics and the ingredients that go into them are often highly polluting. Additionally, animal testing is a major concern, as well as working conditions in factories in developing countries. On the other hand, there are now a large number of ethical, natural and organic cosmetic brands that are increasingly popular. This presents an opportunity for another kind of business: organic beauty salons.
How to Launch Your Business
Once you’ve settled on your idea, you have to actually make it into a reality. Many people have great ideas for businesses, but don’t know how to set them up. Launching a business can seem overwhelming if this is something you’ve never done before, however in reality it is relatively simple to get started.
Here are the key steps in launching your business:
1) Register your business and your business name with your local official authority
2) Make a business plan, which should at a minimum include your mission statement, market analysis and competitive analysis, organisational structure, and budget projections.
3) Develop your product, do extensive product and market research, and source responsible suppliers.
4) Set up payment systems: for businesses with a physical store front, a card reader is a good option, and online payment portals and payment by link systems are great for online-based and any kind of business.
5) Join ethical and sustainable trade associations such as the Ethical Business Association, the Fair Labor Association and the American Sustainable Business Council, depending on your location and your business.
6) Develop a marketing plan that includes goals, a style guide, messaging strategy, and marketing tactics such as social media, a strong website, SEO, digital PR and trade shows.