Building a Green Business

The explosion of organic and eco-friendly products on retail store shelves is more than just a passing fad. It's big business. This reality presents opportunities for environmentally minded entrepreneurs ready to start their own small business.

Successful green businesses not only benefit the environment, but also use green business practices as a means to market their products. If you are thinking of starting a green business, consider the following tips:

Find Your Niche

The eco-friendly lifestyle continues to catch on with consumers which presents many growth possibilities for businesses. Production of food, cosmetics and cleaning supplies are growing areas within organic trade. To be successful, look for opportunities that match your interests.

Get Certified

To differentiate your product or service as environmentally sound, consider obtaining certification from an independent, third-party. Being certified means that you can include their 'ecolabel' on your product's label and other marketing materials. This ecolabel is important for attracting 'green' customers, and can strengthen the value of your brand. Investigate the following organizations and programs for certification opportunities.

Domestic Certification

  • Products: Green Seal sets product standards and awards its label to a wide variety of products
  • Agriculture, Manufacturing and Electricity: Certified by Scientific Certification Systems
  • Buildings: The U.S. Green Building Council certifies new and existing buildings using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System
  • Chlorine-Free Products: Certified by the Chlorine Free Products Association
  • Energy Efficient Products: Certified by the U.S. Government's ENERGY STAR Program
  • Organic Produce: Certified by the The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program
  • Renewable Energy: Certified by the Center for Resource Solution's Green e-Certification Program
  • Wood Products: Criteria set by Forest Stewardship Council; certified by Scientific Certification Systems

International Certification

  • The European Union Eco-Label Program encourages businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment to European consumers
  • Canada's EcoLogo Label program certifies products from the United States and Canada in more than 120 categories
  • Germany's Blue Angel program provides ecolabeling for a wide variety products
  • Japan's EcoMark Program provides product certification and ecolabeling for several product types
  • Taiwan's Green Mark and Energy Label programs provide certification and ecolabeling for green and energy efficient products

Ecolabel Resources

  • The Global Ecolabelling Network is a nonprofit association of third-party, environmental performance labeling organizations to improve, promote and develop the 'ecolabelling' of products and services
  • The Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) is an international organization that helps broker national policies for energy efficiency standards and labels for appliances, equipment, and lighting products

Practice What You Preach

The most successful green businesses don't just sell the green lifestyle. They live it. Selling green means being green, and this helps build your brand and image as socially responsible. Before you start your business, consult the Small Business Guide for Energy Efficiency.

Join Industry Partnerships

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsors a wide variety of industry partnership and product stewardship programs that aim to reduce the impact of industrial activities on the environment. Joining one of these programs helps you connect with others in your industry, grow your brand, and protect the environment and natural resources.