Earth Day and entrepreneurship can go hand in hand

Being environmentally aware can lead to entrepreneurial opportunities.

Photo by Chris Iorio

Photo by Chris Iorio

Earth Day, recognized on April 22, started in 1970 and is now acknowledged internationally by more than 195 countries. It celebrates environmental success stories and brings awareness to environmental issues both locally and internationally. What we do in our own countries, states and communities affects the world now more than ever before. We have stronger ties to resources that reach beyond our border and we rely on collaborative efforts to keep the welfare of the planet at the forefront.

There were some in 1970 that harbored doomful views given the state of the environment at the time. Also alarming was the rate at which the U.S. was using resources and polluting lands and waterways, but with the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), news laws and business practices, things have changed. That change can continue to take place and provide an opportunity for new pioneers in the battle for environmental issues.

As we celebrate environmental successes, recognize our precious resources and reflect on what we have done and what we still need to do, we can also see hope and optimism. We can see economic opportunities as well with new ventures taking place now and in the future. We are problem-solvers, and there is no shortage of problems in the fight for the environment.

Take for example the developments in recycling. There are now companies that specialize in recycled materials and by-product waste. Waste Management is just one company capitalizing on collecting our trash and selling it to make post-consumer products. The savings go to not only the manufacturer and consumer, but it keeps our landfills around longer. Recycling can be done on a small scale too. Some young entrepreneurs have taken old t-shirts and made rugs, used boxes to make bags and paper scraps to make jewelry. In some countries, they use old tires to make sandals and play equipment. The opportunities are endless and new businesses can develop from recycled items. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

There are also companies that are springing up to combat climate change. Companies like Ceres work with other companies to assess their environmental impact and help them adapt to the climate issues and create sustainable practices. There is the new field of Geoengineering as well. Companies and even cities are looking to be more “green” and solve environmental issues or take advantage of the changes. They are all seeking environmental consultants, entrepreneurs and businesses to lead the way.

Energy is another field with great potential for entrepreneurs. New transportation development, new batteries or storage cells and new solar, wind and tidal energy sources can all be tapped into. What’s next from our young minds? Clothing that charges devices, smart homes that send energy back to the manufacture or super-efficient powerlines? Energy is always at the leading edge of innovation and it will be essential to powering our world cleanly and efficiently in the years to come.

Farming and feeding the billions here on earth also lends itself to entrepreneurial growth. How can we best utilize space, soil and water? How can we decrease our food waste and get more of the food we produce to the people that need it? These questions and concerns give us problems to solve. People and companies can capitalize on these.

There are social entrepreneurship opportunities as well. As we interact with our environment and become stewards of the land, we must also advocate for the plants, animals and people that lack a voice. Our interaction with nature and its resources is so very important and needs activists and champions to lead the way. Those leaders need to come with solutions and ideas; the entrepreneur will then run with it.

I do hope you celebrate and reflect on nature and the state of our planet on Earth Day. As you contemplate and cherish the earth and all it has to offer in beauty and wonder, don’t forget we still need to protect it, manage it and try to make it last. It’s the only one we have. We are problem-solvers and with problems come opportunities, and those opportunities are waiting to be filled.