The following is a guest post by Kristie Lewis.
There has been a push over the past five years by consumers looking for more sustainable, eco-friendly products and business practices. Some of the resulting business has been, unfortunately, based on the same profit-first mindset, where consumers are peddled “green-washed” products that falsely claim to be better for the environment. As an environmentally-minded entrepreneur, it’s difficult to know whether it’s financially viable to put any kind of business efforts toward an eco-friendly product or service. Even if you do see a small profit, what’s the point what you’re not really making the positive environmental impact that you want to make? Fortunately, there are still plenty of authentic ways to start a business in the eco-friendly sector and actually make a difference while you’re at it. The area of eco-friendly building and housing supplies is one that is fit to boom, as consumers and businesses look to create spaces that use less energy, cost less to build, use materials that are responsibly-sourced, and will stand the test of time. Here are some great business ideas for anyone interested in eco-friendly housing:
Straw Bale Housing
Not many people would consider living in a house made from straw, right? That is, until you show them the benefits and very cool finished products. Take a look at some of these straw bale homes featured on MSN, and you may think twice about what a house built from straw can look like. Straw homes are constructed by building a frame and then using the straw bales as the base. It is a strong, eco-friendly and inexpensive way to build homes, and also doubles as a built-in insulation.
There are tons of families who hire gardeners to turn their yards into lush surroundings for the summer months. Gardeners of the past, however, have used toxic chemicals for planting and spraying and may not give a second thought to the sustainability of their plant choices or the amount of water that will be needed to keep them alive. Hiring a gardener that comes from an eco-friendly mindset will be appealing to families looking to lighten their environmental footprint.
Although many neighborhoods have an option to recycle, there are many areas that do not. And, even when recycling is offered by the municipal government, not all products can be recycled and homeowners still need to worry about cleaning and sorting. Families may be interested in having this task taken care of by a professional who will guarantee to dispose of their waste in the most earth-friendly manner possible.
People often hire maid services and sometimes even provide earth-friendly cleaning supplies for them to use, but that still doesn’t compare to hiring a cleaner who you know will keep both the environment and the health and safety of your family as top priorities.
Building Material Salvager
Anyone involved in construction knows how often supposed waste can actually be reused to fill another building purpose. Older pieces of wood, bricks, glass, tile and metal beams can be re-used and re-sold by those willing to salvage them.
Re-Purposed Furniture Making
Sometimes the coolest materials have a naturally aged look that is just impossible to recreate artificially. Re-using salvaged materials and turning them into new pieces of furniture is a great way to save room in landfills and create products that are unique and take minimal financial investments to make.
Solar Power Installation
Solar power is not often viewed as a viable energy source for families looking to power their homes on a consistent basis. However, solar panels and solar powered equipment can be used to offset the price of other energy costs. In fact, solar power can end up being so reliable that it becomes families’ primary source of energy.
Energy Efficiency Consultation
As homeowners and builders look for ways to cut costs through sustainable practices, they will first look for experts on the topic who can guide business decisions. If you have a background in environmentally-minded building, you may have some great opportunities to act as a consultant on energy efficiency.
Earth-Friendly Landscape Artist
There is much more to landscaping than thinking about the prettiest way to design an outdoor patio or flower garden. Landscaping can actually help improve the natural function of the area surrounding a home. By choosing the right placement of hills, trees, grass and water, a natural ecosystem can be encouraged to thrive, which is the most earth friendly and budget-minded way to landscape your yard.
Living Roof Builder
Living roofs are definitely not main stream, but installing one is an excellent way to cut costs and promote a healthier environment. By laying fresh earth and grass on top of the roof of a home (this is often done with underground or partially covered homes), you can naturally insulate and shade the interior while allowing for a place for natural plants to soak up sun rays above.
A freelance writer with a specialization in all things construction, Kristie Lewis writes about everything from working in the field to choosing the best construction management schools. For more information, contact her at Kristie.lewis81 @ gmail.com.