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Talking Trash

In honor of Earth Day, this month we look at a host of green business ideas and new market opportunities.

This story appears in the April 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Amy C. CosperTo say we are living in an environmentally savvy age is an epic understatement. Going green is so much more than a slick political position--it has become a part of the way we live and a major influence on the way we buy. This green wave pushes the envelope far beyond political rhetoric and environmental grandstanding straight into the heart of pop , fashion and business.

While it may feel very of-the-moment, the green movement is not new. It's been around in one form or another for roughly 50 years, with each generation promising a greener world and greener . While we may not be living in the eco-domes imagined by the green pioneers back in the 1960s, we have made strides toward the greening of our planet.

The greening of our economy? Eh, not so much. But we do see opportunity in the sector--as do VCs and other money people, who infused $7.8 billion into cleantech or renewable energy projects last year.

The greening of our culture is less political and more social, and it presents a perfect opportunity for innovative thinkers to launch groundbreaking initiatives. Leave it to entrepreneurs to capture a moment and put the 'trep DNA all over it.

Enter upcycling--a trend invented by entrepreneurs who see trash in a whole different way. Upcycling is a technique that takes useless waste and turns it into something new and re-imagined. Apparently, at that green intersection of pop culture and fashion, consumers are showing a keen interest in wearing rubbish--the actual stuff we haul off to landfills. Trash is trendy. bags are no longer former chip containers, they are wearable art. Old, worn-out wetsuits are morphing into laptop covers, and emptied Oreo wrappers are becoming backpacks. Clever companies like TerraCycle and are carving out a niche that capitalizes on the collective green psyche of our culture (See Jennifer Wang's story here).

This month, in honor of Earth Day and the varied and rich opportunities emerging in the sector, we created a special report that sheds an apolitical light on the various sectors and the creative spirit driving the business of green. We show you where the is, where the opportunities are and how to pursue them. Even if green is not your core business, it should be a part of your messaging, because green really does matter to your customers.

So go ahead--grab that garbage, and see what inspires you.

Amy C. Cosper
Amy C. Cosper,
Editor in chief
Follow me on Twitter, @EntMagazineAmy

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