75 Green Start-Ups That Can Make A Difference

I spent this morning at a meeting of The Eco Investment Club meeting in San Diego. Founder, Yeves Perez thought I might be interested in attending and I was. While there, I had the opportunity to speak with Glenn Croston, a Ph.D. biologoist and founder of Starting Up Green.com.

Like many of us, Glenn told me, he and his family starting behaving more green in their home and, with his unique perspective on our planet as a biologist, that led him to build a green business.

His new book, 75 Green Business You Can Start To Make Money and Make a Difference, has some great ideas for anyone looking to join the ecopreneurial world. Oddly enough, I ran across this video yesterday, prior to even being aware that Glenn would be at the meeting. Take a look.

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/v/Z3Zq37W-h08&hl=en&fs=1]

About the Author

Hear Maryanne speak on Social Media for Socially Conscious Brands at Expo East on September 27th! Maryanne Conlin is CPG brand marketer and digital marketing expert, CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy, 4GreenPs. A Shorty Award winner for best Green Content on Twitter, she was a member of the IAA team that won the Green Award in 2010 and most recently was a finalist for the PRSA - Los Angeles PRISM awards for social media. She and her team focus on providing strategic marketing direction, custom content for web, mobile and social platforms, social media community management and online promotions and digital advertising solutions for companies in the green, food and Hispanic space. Follow her on Twitter @maryanneconlin
  • That looks like a great book… Thanks for the head’s up!

  • What a great resource – we are just starting up a company called Green Life | Smart Life that will help families make greener and smarter choices in their new and retrofit home constructions as well as in their daily lives.

    I look forward to reading this book. Thanks!

  • More Answers From Glenn Croston, Panel Discussion
    Eco Investment Club
    November 5, 2008
    “What’s Next for the Green Economy”

    Glenn Croston is the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference”, laying out green business opportunities for a broad range of people to pursue (www.75GreenBusinesses.com). He’s also the green business blogger for Fast Company, and the founder of Starting Up Green (www.StartingUpGreen.com) helping entrepreneurs build successful green businesses.

    Q: Will consumers stick with green during tough times?

    Green consumers are diverse, and there responses to the economy will be too.
    Why were they buying green in the first place?
    For affluent LOHAS who have money and have buying green for years, they are not going to stop now.
    If green was an expensive luxury a person can no longer afford, then maybe not. Being green does not mean a business or product is immune from the economy.
    If green provides added value to an already strong product, then it should do well. All other things being equal, people will chose the green product if costs are similar. More mainstream products may fall in this category.
    If green helps people and businesses save money, it should do well. Examples include cost effective lighting, air duct repairs, weatherstripping, insulation, or power purchase agreements for solar. Many of these investments pay for themselves.

    One way to look at the current economy is that when things are tough, businesses need to get tough as well, getting lean to survive. Investing in green may be more important than ever now in areas that provide demonstrable savings by getting more efficient with fuel, energy, and other resources.

    Q: Are high nonrenewable energy prices the only way to shift to renewable energy, or are we toast?

    Economics drives (almost) everything. Environmentalists were telling us all to drive smaller cars for decades, with little success when oil was cheap. As soon as gas hit $4.50 a gallon, there were millions of new environmentalists driving less and buying smaller cars. A few people will change their ways because it’s the right thing. Most people change when it hits their wallet.

    But we are not at the mercy of the oil market though – We are not toast. No matter what the market does to the price of oil, smart policy can still make a difference and drive economics in the right direction. Government plays a key role here. By putting a price on carbon, we help shift the economy away from coal and toward renewable energy. By putting a cost on oil and requiring increased fuel efficiency, we move drivers, cars, and all associated technologies toward a consistent long term direction that helps everybody. It may not be easy, but it can be done, and has been done by others. Europe and Japan did not abandon fuel efficiency when oil was cheap, and as a result they are today way ahead of us. We need to learn the value of consistent long term policy.

    Q: Is investment in renewable energy too risky right now because of the low price of oil?

    Oil won’t stay low forever – it can’t. What happens to oil in the short term is hard or impossible to predict, but the long term trend is absolutely predictable. Oil is a finite resource, getting harder to develop, and developing economies will continue to grow and use more in the years and decades ahead. I can’t say how long oil will stay at its present price, or when it will head back up again – nobody knows. But it will. If you are in investments for the long term, then betting against fossil fuels and in favor of renewable energy does not seem that risky.

    The long term drivers are:
    Rising price of oil and natural gas (they will rise again)
    Improving technology and decreasing costs of renewables
    Climate change legislation (still likely)
    Renewable energy mandates, portfolio standards (state and federal level)

    Some renewable energy stocks have really been hammered lately, worse than the rest of the market. Vestas, the Danish wind company, was recently down 75%, not because of anything the company did, but assumptions about the impact of financing on its ability to deliver projects. Unless they go belly up, if someone has the patience and can take risk, this might be the best time to invest. Warren Buffett recently said “When everybody is greedy, be afraid. When everyone is afraid, be greedy”. Maybe that sums it up.

    Q: T. Boone Pickens promises the biggest transfer of wealth in history … Is he right or full of oil?

    Mr. Pickens talks about the transfer of wealth that is already happening, hundreds of billions from the US to oil producing countries. By developing renewable energy here in the US we can keep more of that here to benefit our own economy. He’s certainly right about that. Energy is a multi-trillion dollar industry that is ripe for change. We can either have orderly change, a managed transition, or we can drive this oil-driven economy as fast as possible and run off the cliff. We have to figure out still if we have the foresight and will to choose one path over the other.

    Q: Does carbon regulation tackling climate change create jobs or help the economy?

    Some feel that action on climate change is an expensive proposition and is unnecessary or not worth it, but taking action on climate change is one of the biggest business opportunities of our time. Like it or not, the data on climate change is there and it’s not good. See the Stern report. If we keep on doing nothing, which is about what has happened so far, a few decades down the road the cost is far greater than taking action.

    Or we can take on this opportunity. We need a unified global approach to climate change, with the US playing a leadership role. Rather than dragging our feet, what if we step up to the challenge and see it as an opportunity? What if our businesses are developing new technologies for cheap renewable energy and low carbon living, and selling this to everyone else? Putting a price on carbon and allowing the market to get to work finding solutions rewards innovation and drives the economy in the right direction. Leaving things as they are, depleting natural capital and destroying ecosystem services, puts an unimaginable burden on future generations, an incalculably high cost down the road, far greater than the investment that we can make today to make it happen. The cost of solutions is exaggerated by the opponents of action, and the cost of inaction underestimated. If we take action and become leaders, the world will beat a path to our door, creating jobs, companies, etc. That path sounds like a good one to me. Join the Eco Investment Club today at http://www.ecoinvestmentclub.com and get in the know!

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  • Gerald kueh

    I am interested in going into green eco business. I am living in Borneo,Malaysia and with our environment i think i would like to contribute something great esp. for our world environment in some ways.I would like some help to start up something.