We are all about supporting sustainable options as consumers, but are we extending the same level of eco-ethics to our side businesses? While upcycling may sound like a fancy bicycle move, it’s actually the art of taking something you’re no longer using and giving it a new purpose, a second life if you will. By repurposing instead of tossing, you’re making the more sustainable and earth-friendly choice. Recycling, though helpful in reducing waste, requires additional resources to break down the unwanted materials before creating them into something new. With our current waste-management philosophy of reduce, reuse, recycle, we really should use recycling as the last resort, not the default mode.
In the spirit of reducing and reusing, here are a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint as you hustle to raise your income with these sustainable start-up ideas.
Fast fashion is the second largest polluter globally, making it feel even more daunting to start your fashion line or t-shirt shop with sustainability in mind. However, there’s a way to bring the dream to life without contributing heavily to the pollution of the fashion industry. Instead of buying t-shirts from a wholesaler, consider buying them second-hand from thrift stores or online sellers and let your creative juices flow as you upcycle your way to a fashion line. Research your area for eco-friendly screen printing shops that will add your unique designs and create value for your fashions. Consumers who are passionate about sustainability will see the value in your product and will gladly support a small business owner on an environment-saving mission.
Thrifting for Gold
Considering the detriment our consumer-driven society has had on the environment, it’s clear now more than ever is the time to shop secondhand, and not just for clothing. Even if you are already doing so for yourself, have you thought about the impact you could make by turning it into a business? Anything can be upcycled – furniture, picture frames, tin cans, wine bottles, the list goes on and on. If you know your way around some power tools and a bit of paint, you may find refurbishing furniture to be an exciting project with financial rewards. Upcycling and reselling vintage clothing is also a hot trend and a full-time job for some people. Whatever your particular skill set may be, you’re guaranteed to find some things at the thrift store that you can add your personal touch to and sell online or to family and friends.
Trash to Treasure
Single use plastics are one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis. According to UNenvironment.org, “Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute”. Even if you’ve made the switch to reusable water bottles, chances are not everyone in your household or around you has. Round up the plastic bottles you find, gather any fabric, such as from an old pair of jeans and transform them into toys for you and your neighbors’ furry friends. The next time your dog chews up a toy, save the stuffing, reuse it, and sew your way into a new business venture.
Lastly, if you already run a business, consider the small changes you can implement to make a big impact. It may be as simple as switching to biodegradable packaging materials or even buying from distributors who support green initiatives. Either way, make sure you are supporting practices you believe in. As L.N. Smith famously said, “Every dollar you spend… or don’t spend… is a vote for the world you want.”