One of my New Year’s resolutions was to “green up” my photography business in 2009. Six months later, I am proud to say that I am still sticking to that resolution. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to learn that being environmentally conscious has led to real cost savings for my business.
Here are six steps for becoming a green photographer:
1. Go totally digital. Yes, film has its romance — but not for the environment. A few years ago, the only option we had was to discard countless plastic film canisters into the trash after we loaded the camera, and then burn through a ton of chemicals to process film and develop and wash prints in the darkroom. All of that has changed with digital photography. From start to finish, working with digital equipment is cleaner than our old methods.
2. Use your mobile phone for driving directions. I used to scribble down notes or print out directions to get where I was going on photo shoots. Now I just use my phone. Depending on the service you use, you can view a map or even get voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. And you’ll save on all that wasted paper.
3. Transition to FTP delivery of photos. If you mail out, say, 50 CDs to clients in a year, think about how many different vehicles carry those packages and burn gas in transit. If you can transition your clients from CDs to FTP delivery, you can help the environment and save significantly on shipping costs. FTP is an easy way to move large files; all you need to do is upload your photos to a server space and send the link to your clients. Yes, you’ll have to spend a little time educating your clients and getting their buy-in — but it’s well worth it.
4. Use rechargeable batteries when you can. Not only is this cheaper than buying disposable batteries over the long run; it will also keep those nasty battery chemicals out of the landfill.
5. Change your printing habits. Do not make hard copies of e-mails, and be sure to read as much as you can online. This saves on both paper and ink and will keep your trash can empty. Also be sure to recycle/reuse your printer cartridges. A lot of places give you a discount or freebie for bringing in your used cartridges; take advantage of these deals.
6. Recycle, recycle, recycle. The biggest single step any business owner can take is to commit to recycling paper, plastic and alumimum — and anything else your local waste disposal center will accept. They’ll come and haul it away — then put it back into use. Start today by cleaning all the aluminum cans or plastic bottles off of your desk and finding a recycling bin to put them in.
Fortunately for our planet, being a green photographer is easier than it used to be, thanks to digital equipment. But there’s always more you can do. Chances are you’ll find, as I did, that you can help the environment while improving the bottom line of your business.