Going green to make green

The idea for Tomato Palms came from an unlikely source.

It was two years ago, when Nancy Ogburn read an article about a man, who was trying to make a living by picking up aluminum cans.

I thought there may be a business opportunity here and also a way to help the homeless, Ogburn says.

Tomato Palms has grown from a family operation to employing three workers, and donating a portion of its proceeds to area homeless shelters.

The concept is simple -- collect, empty, sort, and clean. Tomato Palms handles all aspects of the recycling process for restaurants to office buildings.

We provide a report at the end of the month that tells them what the weight is for their recyclables, so they can track their progress, Ogburn adds.

To date, Tomato Palms has recycled more than 140,000 pounds of materials.

Mark Bostic is another green entrepreneur. He recently started a company called Energy Remediation.

I was looking for a solution because my power bills were terrible. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I had heard there may be a way to build a house that uses significant less power, says Bostic, and I was certainly interested in finding out about it.

An architect for 25-years, Bostic began using green building techniques when he designed his own home in 2008.

Now he's putting that knowledge to use, using the same tools to construct energy-efficient residences to improve older properties.

Like any other industry, it's smart to get into it, if you have a product or service people want, says Associate Director Dean Kress of USC TMs Faber Entrepreneurship Center.

According to Kress, green enterprises are growing and one of the fastest sectors is construction.

It TMs always a little scary to start a new company, but you have to believe in what you're doing, Bostic.

These two business owners know that going green won't change the world, instead they are hoping to inspire the world to do the same thing.