Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Eco-Friendly Business Ideas for Teens

teen's guide to making and selling upcycled arts and crafts book cover image

This is a sponsored post. I have received complimentary access to this product and have been compensated for my time reviewing the product and producing this review. I have not been influenced in any way and my opinions on this product are my own.

Looking for some eco-friendly business ideas for teens? Turning trash into treasure is an innovative and eco-friendly way for teen entrepreneurs to start their own businesses! Not only is it a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but building a business of upcycled crafts is a great option for teens to have an income-producing creative outlet!

We all want our kids to be successful in whatever they do, right? As parents, we are doing whatever we can to support them in growing up to lead happy, fulfilling lives while also being capable of providing for themselves. The opportunities for teen entrepreneurs these days are seemingly limitless so, in our home, my husband and I are encouraging our kid to pursue any entrepreneurial opportunities they may be interested in.

Teens who have a passion for the environment, for example, many consider turning a hobby of creating upcycled crafts into a thriving business!

Coming up, I’m happy to share how teens can start their own eco-friendly business as well as provide a number of ideas for upcycled crafts that could prove profitable!

Why Eco-Friendly Businesses Matter

I don’t know about you, but a scroll through social media usually ends up reinforcing the feeling that our world is obsessed with fast fashion and decor trends that go out of style as quickly as they peak. Not only can it be exhausting, and expensive, to keep up with, but these trends can contribute to the climate crisis and the devastation of wildlife, land, and more.

What kind of world are we leaving for our children? Our grandchildren? And the generations that follow? There really isn’t a fast (or easy) way to fix the destruction that’s already occurred, but, encouraging our kids, entrepreneurial or not, to be environmentally conscious is a start!

Building an eco-friendly business is just one way we can help the earth to heal. They can help in reducing our carbon footprint, minimizing waste production, conserving natural resources and more! Personally, I believe encouraging our kids to create (and support) eco-friendly businesses can also result in them living in the moment and enjoying the beauty around them…and not being so concerned with the current & next big trends.

Starting a Business with Recycled Crafts

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. Having started many of my own, including the blog you’re visiting at this very moment, starting a business can be very overwhelming. Between the legalities and the time requirements, it could be very easy to accidently overlook very important aspects of starting (and maintaining) a new business if you don’t have a mentor of sorts in your corner.

When it comes to teens starting a business selling recycled crafts, this is where the Teen’s Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts: How to Start a Creative Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Side Gig, by James Dillehay, comes into play.

A quick, but super thorough read at 146 pages, Dillehay has provided his personal experiences with sound advice and and resources within the pages of his Teen’s Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts book. While starting a business can be mind-boggling, the entire start to finish process is shared within 21 super organized and approachable chapters:

  1. Things to Make to Sell
  2. What a Side Hustle Might Look Like
  3. Setting Up to Do Business
  4. Preparing to Market your Hustle
  5. How to Price Upcycled Art & Crafts
  6. Your Marketing Plan
  7. Crowdfunding
  8. Selling at Art & Crafts Shows & Other Events
  9. SEO Tips, Search Engine Optimization
  10. Selling on Etsy
  11. E-Commerce Alternatives to Etsy
  12. Blogging
  13. Introduction to Social Media
  14. Facebook Best Practices
  15. Pinterest Best Practices
  16. Instagram Best Practices
  17. TikTok Best Practices
  18. Selling Wholesale
  19. Upcycled Art in Public Art Programs
  20. Your Customer List
  21. The Success Pattern
Sam reading the Teens Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts while sitting on the sofa

Why this Book is Great for Teen Entrepreneurs

I have been blogging since 2018. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about running my own business. I’ve made, and learned from, mistakes and, if my tweens were to ask me for tips about running their own business, I would happily share my tips and such.

But you know what? They probably wouldn’t listen to me because, for some reason, it seems that kids (and spouses) tend to do best when practical advice & experience comes from a third party and not an immediate family member. It’s a phenomena I don’t quite understand, but I have a feeling I’m not alone in this, am I?

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You know who my kids would listen to, though? James Dillehay.

My oldest, a 12 year old with a healthy love of creating his own works of art using recycled materials even before the Teen’s Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts was published, took the time to read the book while we were traveling to and from various destinations. While my 10 year old is happy to read book after book, my 12 year old is the child that tends to avoid books.

When I spoke to him about eco-friendly business ideas and handed him Dillehay’s book, though? He took the book in his hands and devoured it.

He started giving me tips on running my business (!!) and shared ideas for starting his own upcycled craft business. One of his favorite ideas was to upcycle neckties to make purses and other items. When my grandfather passed away, I got to inherit a few of his neckties. I was figuring my boys could wear them to formal events, but now I’m thinking I should allow my son to make some functional mementos with his ties! How neat would that be? Then, if he ends up enjoying upcycling neckties, we could always visit local thrift stores to stock up on supplies.

young woman holding a book entitled "Teen's Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts" by James Dillehay

The lifelong entrepreneur in me was thrilled that my son was coming up with ideas and being enthusiastic about possibly starting his own eco-friendly business.

While I love that my son has been inspired by this book, I also really appreciate that is covers all the parts of starting and running a business. So many kids (and adults) will get a big idea and think “oh! I should start a business” without truly realizing all the pieces of the puzzle required for a successful business.

Starting a business does not just require a great idea…it’s way more complex than that and Dillehay’s book does a wonderful job of covering all the bases.

@thathomeschoolfamily My tween doesn't enjoy reading, but even he liked reading the Teen's Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts by James Dillehay! He got a ton of great ideas for starting his own business and now has a better idea of all the steps required for forming & growing a business of his own. #ad #teensinbusiness #gigeconomy #jamesdillehay #upcycledarts #teenentrepreneurs #teenpreneur #homeschoolreview #homeschoolbook #homeschoolmiddleschool #homeschoolhighschool ♬ original sound – Liz | That Homeschool Family

A Blueprint for Selling Handmade Products

To help your teen best prepare for starting their eco-friendly business, you may consider taking advantage of James Dillehay’s digital freebie (a $39 value!): Blueprint for Selling Handmade Products. I went ahead and previewed it for you and can confirm that it’s a solid resource for starting a business. If you ask me, it’s a very condensed version of the Teen’s Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts book, but is still super helpful because it provides links to many of the online resources Dillehay refers to within the book. You could also consider it to be a preview of the book contents!

Blueprinnt for Selling Handmade Products, James Dillehay

15 Eco-Friendly Business Ideas for Teens

Today, the need to promote and live a sustainable life is more important than ever, so “high five” to your teen for being earth conscious and driven enough to even consider starting an eco-friendly business! To get your teen started on their business venture, here are some 15 unique, environmentally responsible business ideas teenagers can explore:

  1. No-Sew T-shirt Tote Bags
  2. Vinyl Record Bowls
  3. Denim Pocket Organizers
  4. Cork Keychains
  5. CD Mosaic Art
  6. Sweater Pillows
  7. Plastic Bottle Planters
  8. Book Page Art
  9. Cassette Tape Wallet
  10. Puzzle Piece Art
  11. Bottle Cap Magnets
  12. Record Sleeve Notebooks
  13. Book Page Wreaths
  14. Coffee Can Planters
  15. Fabric Scrap Hair Scrunchies

Now that my millennial, music & book-loving heart has absolutely broken at the thought of upcycling such relics, I can honestly say that I would happily purchase any of the previous mentioned upcycled crafts even if only for the opportunity to reminisce.

After all, if there’s an opportunity to reduce, reuse, and recycle something no longer useful into something beautiful, we should definitely take action!

So, what business will your teen be starting with the help of the Teen’s Guide to Making and Selling Upcycled Arts and Crafts? Let me know so I can support them in their endeavors!

Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,

- Elizabeth (and the kids. and the husband. even the dog.)

Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.

Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.

When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!

Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!

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