1) Carsharing is a great idea. Ithaca Carshare works very well in this smaller city. There are currently no carshares that offer one-way trips, and I don’t think any deliver the cars to people either. Those parts are certainly possible, but require much more planning and staff to move the cars around, which could make financials difficult. If you ever want to check out Ithaca Carshare, feel free to stop by! We try to help other carshares get started also, because finding the initial resources for the in-car systems, insurance coverage, how to acquire cars, and how to manage the whole reservation process is a lot to create on your own from scratch.
2) Ithaca has a few successful manure and restaurant food scrap composting services. The apartment I lived in for 3 months this summer was above several restaurants, and there were about 10 large trash can size bins by their dumpsters that were for only compost. The farm I was volunteering at also received compost from animal manure. When I was in Oneonta, NY, a few of my friends had a discussion about starting a composting system where we could pickup the restaurant food, put it in tillable piles, and essentially sell it to growers. A few of the big problems were finding space for cheap to do this, and restaurant scraps are just not organic, so the value would not be much either.
3) I’ve seen a bike and cart around here labeled for a similar service, and they said it’s all bike powered! If you could find people within a good radius interested you could try running the gardening business by bike!
4) I thought about “sustainability coaching” before, and at one time offered courses about driving more efficiently, but my problem was more that people didn’t want to pay money to learn how to save money. Especially now that gas is becoming cheaper again, I bet few people would have an interest in giving up any money or time towards this. I’ve seen some good workshops along these lines though, and I did talk at one about driving techniques to improve fuel economy. That group also did in-home meetings where professionals were showing the easy steps of improving a home for insulation, water heating options, and energy saving tips. It sounded really neat, and I heard it did decently well here. It may not be a money maker, but it certainly helps people.
1) I’d love to tour your carshare some day but I’m afraid my travel budget is pretty limited for the moment. However, perhaps I can make it out towards Ithaca next summer. (I went once to check out Cornell, which I decided was awesome but ridiculously expensive, and I also got the impression that Ithaca is more my speed in warm weather…)
2) I’d love to hear how the composting businesses are successful. I think the two big challenges are transportation and having a finished product that is valuable enough to earn a little money although I think in Bloomington there’s a market for local compost even if it’s not organic. The bigger challenge is that there’s a local yard waste composting business that put out a “bad batch” last year that soured some local gardeners. I guess it had too much nitrogen so they mixed in some sawdust but unfortunately it was too much and it used up pretty much all the nitrogen or something like that.
3) We do have a bicycle courier service in town and we also have a business that does landscaping and law maintenance using bike transportation and hand tools (no gasoline at all). I haven’t heard how successful they are but I think both businesses are doing pretty well. Oh, and there’s also a guy with a pedicab but I think he’s struggling. There just aren’t that many people in need of rickshaw service in town.
4) Yeah, it’s hard to get people to pay money to learn how to save money. I think home weatherization is still a viable field. Something to think about, anyway.