Top o’ the morning to you! I thought this was a fitting topic for today, but it is something that has been nagging at my conscience for quite sometime. The photography industry is notorious for being less than environmentally friendly. Harsh chemicals, wasted paper during trimming not to mention countless photographs not worthy of an album or frame that head to the dump each year.
Happily, the digital age, while it has created some new problems, has actually helped our studio to become more environmentally friendly. We gave up the darkroom (and all of the nasty chemicals) a few years ago and replaced it with computer stations. No more negatives and the ensuing storage issues – we purchased a large commercial server and backup systems for our server and store all of our files digitally – we no longer use DVD’s to store files (up to 14 per wedding!). One bonus we hadn’t considered when purchasing our server – it generates some heat, enough that we can turn down the furnace during the day when we aren’t using our gallery, and still be warm enough in our workspace!
No more printing photographs or contact sheets to see whether the image is a keeper, we can open the ‘digital negative’ on the computer and delete or keep it on the spot. Even our artwork, enhancing photos with oil paints, markers and pencils can now be done on computer before the image is printed. Mistakes are deleted instead of being tossed in the trash.
We recycle and re-use everything that we possibly can. Steve and I email messages to each other and post our to-do lists online, or use a wipe board whenever we can, using less paper and fewer post-it notes.
When it is necessary to print or copy something, we re-use that paper when we are finished with it by cutting it into quarters for scrap paper or shredding it for clean packing material.
And speaking of packaging, I am the queen of re-using boxes, peanuts and bubble wrap! We are making an effort to use recycled and re-usable materials to package and ship our prints, while still keeping them safe and clean. Whenever possible, we choose to post brochures and pricing lists online rather than printing them out and mailing them.
I am always looking for new ways to go green. I just learned about an album company that uses recycled materials for their books and donates a portion of their profits to environmental groups. Hopefully recycled papers and vegetable inks will be incorporated into the industry in the future.
In the meantime, we’re making as many small gestures as we can. Turning off our energy saving lights when they aren’t in use, going to the library instead of the bookstore, and consolidating our errands into one trip (well, truthfully, that’s because we are too cheap to pay $3.30 for a gallon of gas!). If you’ve found a great site for ideas about going green, or have your own ways that you help out at work or at home, please feel free to post them here!
So, go a little greener today, even if it just means carpooling to the local pub for your corned beef, cabbage and green ale!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!