The world’s economy is going green, and many opportunities have opened up for sustainable entrepreneurs who want to be part of the green revolution. It seems like everything from recycling to power generation to organic groceries and sustainable fisheries are attracting attention from investors of all sizes.
A sustainable, or “green business,” is one that shows a commitment to an environmentally sustainable future by striving to create a positive impact on natural resources and communities. According to a report last year by the IBM Institute for Business Value and National Retail Federation, sustainability has reached a tipping point with profound impacts on how consumers feel about brands.
About 77% of the consumers surveyed in the study say it is at least “moderately” important to them that the businesses they support are sustainable and environmentally responsible. Almost six out of every 10 are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce negative impact to the environment.
Sustainable entrepreneurism is a major key in combatting the devasting effects of climate change. According to the latest much-anticipated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released in August 2021, climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame. The time is now to make investments in sustainable infrastructure solutions that can replace the current ways we build, transport and create things, especially as Arizona leads the nation in small business growth.
Here are 10 business categories to watch if you are planning to become a sustainable entrepreneur.
- Green Power Investments: Green power generation that does not rely on burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity for our homes or industries is creating a growing number of investment opportunities. Water, wind and solar are among the top sources of renewable energy.
- Water Conservation: One of the most important natural resources we have is water. Arizona is facing record droughts and many industries are seeing the impacts as it continues. A popular industry focused on conserving water includes green landscaping like xeriscaping where the process of landscaping, or gardening, reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation.
- Wind Power: Wind is one of the fastest-growing sources of renewable energy, having increased over the past two decades. If this renewable interests you, look for wind farms that sell wind-generated energy, or consider companies that manufacture wind turbines.
- Solar Energy: Energy from the sun powers homes, buildings and a variety of other items in our everyday life. Focus your attention on solar panel manufacturing, distributing and recycling. Homeowners and businesses are increasingly adopting this technology all across the State of Arizona.
- Pollution Control: From reducing greenhouse gas emissions on industrial power plants to minimizing the emissions that come out of the tailpipe of your car, the pollution control industry is on the rise. This is the industry that responds every time legislation mandates an improvement of harmful chemicals that can be released into the environment. In addition, single-use plastics are being regulated more as a pollutant, and biodegradable solutions will replace our silverware in restaurants and groceries.
- Green Transportation: Many will think of Tesla as the vehicle leading the race in green transportation, but it is not the only player in the field. On a smaller scale, researchers are working with fuel-cell technology to develop alternative methods of powering our vehicles. If this technology works, there are millions of cars and millions of consumers waiting for it.
- Waste Reduction: Recycling has become a standard practice for improving our waste behaviors. Most people are aware that paper, metal and glass can be reprocessed and reused, but the things you did not know you can recycle continues to grow. Waste oil, vegetable oil, batteries, cell phones, computers and even car parts can have a second life. Recycling these items involves a business operation to ensure it is done right.
- Organics: Organic farms avoid the use of pesticides, develop sustainable farming practices, and sell products that are often healthier to eat. They also engage in animal management practices that avoid the use of hormones and antibiotics, keeping those chemicals out of the food chain and out of the ground and water surrounding the farms. The agriculture industry needs innovation in organic and sustainable solutions from the farm to the table.
- Aquaculture: Sustainable fishing is another food-related investment opportunity that is generating attention as the amount of the world’s overfished oceans impacts the human food chain.
- Geothermal: Geothermal energy uses heat from the earth to produce clean energy. When done well, it can have many benefits, like generating electricity and dehydrating food. Many spas and resorts use geothermal resources for heat, hot water and pools, and farms use it to grow bedding plants and perennials, heat buildings and greenhouses, wash equipment, mix with chopped hay to feed calves, raise tropical fish and water cattle.
As you consider these ideas for your next green investment, think about what your vision for the future is and align the opportunity to the need you are most passionate about. When it comes to the impending climate crisis, the world depends on all ideas and investments to create a more sustainable future. This is the time for a green revolution.
Take a moment to explore the Going Green and Going Smart Program to learn how you can transform your small business by joining the #GreenBizAZ movement. This initiative aims to educate small-business owners in sustainable business practices for a cleaner, greener future in Arizona.
EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.
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