Forbes Post -- It's A Dirty Business: The Green Entrepreneurs Who Create Treasure (And Profit) From Trash
The following article originally appeared in my column at Forbes.com:
They call their headquarters “The Junktion.” Their office looks like a hip 90’s dot com, where news about “junk happenings” covers the wall, there’s a foosball table in the corner, and lots of young executives are running around. In reality it’s a garbage-hauling company in Vancouver called 1-800-GOT-JUNK?
The growing ranks of green entrepreneurs are on to something big—while it’s hard to identify how many of the United States’ 11 million entrepreneurs fit this category, the market they are addressing is undeniably huge. Data from The Green Market says the sector will double from $1.37 trillion a year in 2010 to $2.74 trillion by 2020.
The ideas are as unique as the entrepreneurs. I wrote about one of them, Phil Tepfer, of Kenai Sports last month, who developed with his co-founder, Charles Bogoian, a way to create clothing out of corn husks, computer keyboards, soda bottles and other varieties of trash.
Then there’s New Jersey high school student, Sasha Lipton. Frustrated with the plastic toys she would see on the curb on garbage day, she started to rescue these toys from the landfill, clean them and redistribute them to children in need at local churches and shelters.
Today her award-winning company, Second Chance Toys, has grown into a major charitable organization that has empowered families through the U.S. and in Sydney, Australia to start local programs in their areas. Celebrities have gotten behind the cause as well. The company has distributed more than 110,000 toys to disadvantaged children and has kept thousands of pounds of plastic out of our landfills.
“There is something very special about creating an organization that is based solely on the notion that we can make the world a better place for future generations,” she says.
This new breed of entrepreneurs is doing far more than “greening up” a conventional product or service. In some cases, they are innovating the entire value chain.
For example the young entrepreneurs at Ecoscraps ( www.ecoscraps.com ), in Orem, Utah are making the rounds at grocers, farmers and restaurants to collect food waste that would otherwise be thrown away, and turning it into high quality organic potting soil and compost.
Steve Feldman of Green Demolitions came up with an idea to rescue high-end kitchens and other household treasures from renovations and demolitions and then offer them at discounted prices to luxury bargain hunters. He even has a consignment website and program (Kitchen Trader) where customers can view the kitchen in its current mansion or estate and purchase it online before removal.
To read the rest of this article please visit my regular column at Forbes.com.