According to a 2021 survey from the BBC, almost 60% of young people between 16 and 25 are anxious about the state of the environment. Eco-friendly businesses are an important part of building a more sustainable and healthy world for future generations. Online businesses can help the planet and often leave less of a footprint than traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. If you already have an ecologically conscious brick-and-mortar business, now is the time to enhance your online presence. 

1. Online Second Hand Stores

Creating new consumer goods is a major drain on the world's natural resources. Any business that sells goods secondhand reduces waste and keeps objects out of overflowing landfills. Consider adding a secondhand shop to your business's website to drive more sales and boost sustainability. 

Thrift stores are the original eco-friendly business. With younger generations struggling financially and concerned about the planet, now is the perfect time to reach younger customers by selling thrifted goods online. Specialized point of sale software for thrift stores makes this process easy, and it can increase your donation yield as well. Donation tracking programs seamlessly keep a digital record of your store's donated merchandise. The software can also set pick-up points for donations, print receipts for donors and send thank-you emails that encourage donors to give multiple times. If your thrift store is still using a general POS system, upgrading to a more modern and tailored option can provide a high-tech boost to your thrift store. 

2. Rental or Sharing Platforms

Local pooling of resources is a time-honored concept, but the internet brings it into the 21st century. Instead of relying on one or two neighbors to borrow tools and goods from, sharing apps make it possible to search a wider area. 

Mobile rental and sharing platforms enable swaps for everything from power tools to designer clothing. These businesses reduce unnecessary consumption by allowing people to rent instead of buying new. The renter makes extra money and has the security of a program to ensure they get their items back. 

3. Selling Reusable Alternatives to Single-Use Items

Single-use items such as plastic bags, diapers and paper towels are a continuous drain on both resources and finances. Many online businesses and entrepreneurs have found success selling reusable alternatives to these everyday items. 

The key to selling reusable items is solid market research. Plastic water bottles are single-use items, but there are so many reusable alternatives on the market that they may not be the most competitive online business idea.

Developing a reusable paper good that's as convenient as the disposable version is difficult but holds great potential if you're successful. Inventive grocery totes can be a smart alternative to plastic bags or cheap "reusable" grocery bags that fall apart. Include easy carrying options on grocery bags for customers who live in cities and walk to the store. 

4. Guides and Supplies for Eco-Friendly Projects

Small eco-friendly initiatives can make a big difference in a local ecosystem. Plus, completing a project that benefits the environment can help to ease many people's anxieties about the climate.

An online business that provides tutorials and supplies for DIY eco-friendly projects may see success in years to come. Here are a few examples of projects you might offer:

  • Pollinator gardens incorporate windbreaks, wildflowers and water sources to replenish struggling insect populations. 
  • Compost bins reduce waste and create fertilizer to replenish soil. 
  • Home gardens help feed a family sustainably and improve overall health. 

Your online eco-friendly project business can offer free resources to entice your target market. Then, offer in-depth guides and starter kits at varying sizes and price points. These projects save money on groceries and can increase the value of a home, so emphasize the economic side of environmentally-friendly home projects as well as the moral angle. 

A small online business may not seem like a force that can battle global environmental trends. However, small individual steps can make a difference in the climate and in the lives of those worrying about the future. Giving an eco-friendly business an online presence opens new opportunities, increases visibility and can make a big difference in your bottom line. When starting an online business, consider if you can approach it from an ecologically conscious angle.