There is a growing movement of individuals drawn not only to the journey of entrepreneurship, but also to creating businesses with an environmentally-friendly mission. The philosophy, “think globally, act locally,” has been embraced by "ecopreneurs" for businesses of all sizes.
Here are three entrepreneurs that try to incorporate green practices at every level of their businesses:
Octopus Ink. Found primarily online and through their retail locations in Alaska, eco-minded, ocean-inspired clothing line Octopus Ink is creating some very cool fashion. Founder, artist and designer Shara Dorris loves the ocean. Being an ocean conservationist, she felt a strong tie to creating clothing that was inspired by the marine life she loved, while also protecting the environment she was honoring. She started her business in 2007 with that in mind. People don’t seem to mind paying upwards of $60 for a hoodie when it’s created from a local designer and printed locally on Alternative Earth Apparel material, which consists of organic cotton, recycled polyester and other sustainable raw materials. The collection is as beautiful as it is inspiring for eco-fashion.
Eco-me.com. After her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 35 years old, co-founder of Eco-me.com Robin Kay Levine conducted some research on environmental factors that could potentially be linked to cancer and found some scary results. Then and there she decided there needed to be a central location for easy access to more affordable but toxin-free household items such as cleaning supplies, personal care sundries and even pet products. Levine and co-founder Jennifer Mihajlov created Eco-me.com to meet that need and have made it their mission to spread the word about eliminating toxic products in the house for healthy, family and pet-friendly alternatives that will keep everyone safe.
Interface. A globally successful commercial carpet manufacturer is probably not where you would except to find ecopreneur principles and sustainability plans. However, that’s exactly what founder and chairman Ray Anderson set out to create with his textile manufacturing company, Interface. Well, maybe not exactly from the start. Textile manufacturing has some of the most chemically and environmentally unfriendly processes of any product on the market. So it was an unlikely mission pivot for Anderson. However, after clients in the mid-1990s began to ask what Interface’s environmental impact plans were, Anderson realized there was more to do than a plan alone.
After reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, he began a massive movement within his company to create a totally sustainable global business. Everything from the places where Interface employees work to the products they create and how they’re sourced, Anderson has created a fully comprehensive seven-step area plan to move this company toward sustainability. While the company is not there yet, it’s a bold ecopreneur's journey that started in 1994 and is well underway today -- with full corporate transparency about its progress, successes and weaknesses out for the public to see.