Business Opportunities: Zero Waste

More and more people are conscious of their consumer behavior. People want to live a life that ensures our planet is habitable for as long as possible.

This trend is reflected in the growth of the Zero Waste community, which is rapidly gaining popularity.

For example, the r/ZeroWaste community grew from 350k to 630k over the last 12 months. This 80% growth shows that a growing number of people want to live a waste-free life.

source: subredditstats

We hope you enjoy this report on business opportunities around Zero Waste and we’re looking forward to hearing from you.


A few words on the community's culture

Zero Waste communities are goal-driven. Their goal is to live a life that produces zero waste.

This has implications for entrepreneurs who want to be active in Zero Waste communities.

As an entrepreneur, you need to be aligned with the Zero Waste mission. This has the upside that your customers have passion for what they do, and they celebrate anybody who helps them achieve their goals.

For Zero Waste online communities, this translates into the fact that posts sharing new ways of recycling plastic, clean-up actions in nature, and tips & tricks on how to live a Zero Waste life got the most attention.

One aspect of the community that we found really interesting is that there is a lot of product talk. People look for alternatives to conventional, waste-producing products all the time. There are many business opportunities for entrepreneurs who manage to build truly waste-free alternatives to those conventional products.

If done right, the members of the community will celebrate those products and share them with their friends, which is great promotion. But you need to make 100% sure that the products you offer REALLY contribute towards living a Zero Waste life, not just superficially.

An example of a company that was well perceived in this community is Patagonia. Patagonia is quite a special company with regards to business ethics and its commitment to reducing its environmental impact.

Read more about this here in order to better understand Patagonia and what Zero Waste community members value about companies like them.

Let’s get into the problems to be solved.

๐Ÿค” Problems looking for Solutions

๐Ÿ™๏ธ Local Zero Waste Options

Problem: People are looking for local Zero Waste options

Solution: Local Zero Waste platform

Attractiveness: ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ The Zero Waste lifestyle has a significant local component to it, as most Zero Waste online communities gather around specific cities or regions. There are good reasons for that: recycling options and the exchange of materials and products are bound to the locality, and so are Zero Waste stores, events, cafรฉs, and restaurants that community members talk and care about.

However, platforms like Reddit and Facebook are not ideal for these types of exchanges. They are almost exclusively based on news feeds. This makes it difficult to discover relevant posts once they are lost in the feed. A well-organized platform that provides both news as well as separate spaces for all kinds of discussions, tips, events, places etc. would deliver much more value. Moreover, components of gamification and social status could make such a platform truly attractive and unique.

Figuring out how to build such a platform for one city first could potentially allow exporting this model to other cities and regions, given that the features work in those places as well.

๐Ÿ“š Living a Zero Waste Life

Problem: Zero Wasters want to learn more about the Zero Waste lifestyle

Solution: Educational Content / Courses

Attractiveness: ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ Many members of this community are eager to learn more about achieving their goal of living a Zero Waste life. Beginners are asking general questions like “How do I get started?”, while advanced members look for more specific questions such as “What are Zero Waste alternatives to this specific product X?”

That’s why we think there’s an opportunity in creating educational content and courses. There could be three ways to differentiate from other creators in this space: 1. quality of content, 2. branding, 3. community-focus.

While, generally speaking, there seems to be no lack of Zero Waste educational resources, a community focus could introduce something new to this space. This can be achieved through immersion in Zero Waste online communities and the creation of content that specifically serves the needs and problems that appeared within them.

Most creators don’t do this, and this is where you could differentiate yourself. There are many unanswered questions in those communities that you could respond to with your content.

๐Ÿฒ Ordering Groceries Waste-free

Problem: Online grocery delivery services produce unnecessary waste

Solution: Zero Waste Meal Boxes

Attractiveness: ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ More people than ever order groceries online. It’s super convenient. Meal boxes like HelloFresh and BlueApron got really successful over the years. But they are not 100% in line with the Zero Waste community’s goal.

One could build a Zero Waste meal box delivery service. You could focus on local producers and ship the boxes with low/no waste. Meal boxes generally work really well, so we think this could be a good business opportunity. The challenge would be to create a solution that sticks to local suppliers but is scalable at the same time.

In full transparency: this is not a problem people explicitly talked about. But one community member shared the website of a waste-free grocery delivery service that we found inspiring. We think this is an interesting space, that’s why we shared it even though it’s not 100% in line with our research method.

๐Ÿงด Zero Waste Products

Problem: Some everyday life products have no Zero Waste alternatives

Solution: Zero Waste products

Attractiveness: ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ Zero Wasters look for environmentally friendly products all the time. Some alternatives to everyday life plastic products can be made at home, but others can’t.

Zero Waste online communities are full of requests for recommendations of such products. Oftentimes, there seem to be no such alternatives yet. These communities are both great for evaluating the demand, as well as for product distribution.

If you build plastic-free products, you have to make sure that the whole production- and supply chain is environmentally friendly. If you manage to do that, Zero Wasters will likely do a lot of promotion for you, which is a unique feature of goal-oriented communities.

๐Ÿ“™ Further resources

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