Even though Kermit the Frog might disagree, being green is getting easier.
What does it mean to be green? It’s pretty simple, actually. A “green” photographer is one who has assessed the impact his/her company has on the environment and who chooses to use environmentally sustainable and socially responsible practices in an effort towards lessening this impact.
Why would I want to go green? American’s current interest in things environmentally friendly is booming: BPA-free water bottles, eco-friendly yoga mats, solar panels on homes, and hybrid cars have become common place. With over 155,000 professional photographers in the United States, the photography industry is simultaneously experiencing it’s largest ecological footprint in it’s 200-year history. By going green, not only are you opening yourself up to a new segment of customers who are looking to hire eco-friendly vendors, but by implementing some simple energy and cost saving steps, you’ll be helping the environment and your bottom line.
What steps can I take to be more eco-friendly? Going green may be easier than you think. Even small steps can have an impact. Here are some simple suggestions:
• Recycle – Think paper, cans, glass, plastics, batteries ink cartridges, paper, mail, and office supplies. It’s all fair game!
• Reduce Waste – Use only what you need. Offer online galleries in lieu of paper proofs. Deliver contracts, invoices and receipts as PDFs.
• Reuse Materials – Reuse packaging and envelopes. Print on both sides of office paper. Use rechargeable batteries and solar powered battery chargers. Consider purchasing recycled, used or re-furbished computer hardware, office machines, camera equipment and office furnishings.
• Choose eco-Friendly Products – Many office items come in high quality, eco-friendly versions including paper, pens, envelopes, paper towel, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies.
• Save Energy – Use the standby mode (or turn off) electrical equipment when not in use, install dimmer switches and CFLs, keep the thermostat below 70 degrees, install low flow toilets and faucets.
• Cut Your CO2 – Got a destination wedding or event? Purchase carbon offsets to lessen the footprint of your travel. Use public transportation, carpool, or ride a bike to run errands and meet clients. You’ll be surprised how the good fresh air and sunshine will make you feel. And, you might even get there quicker!
• Shop Local – When you shop locally, not only are you reducing the pollutants and other expenses involved in the long-distance manufacturing and shipping of products, but you are also doing your part to support the local economy.
• Don’t Be Trashy – Before you toss old or used items into the trash, consider posting them websites like Freecycle.com or Craigslist.org, or donating them to charity. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
• Save a Tree (or Maybe a Forest) – Reduce unwanted mail with www.stopjunkmail.org. Pay bills online. Choose to have your magazine subscriptions delivered electronically. Purchase recycled paper products.
• Choose eco-Friendly Vendors – Does your lab offer eco-friendly products or paper? Are your frames made from sustainable materials? How many of your vendors are employing green practices?
• Ask Questions – Do you really need to purchase a new item, or can it be rented or bought used? If you must buy new, is the item available in an eco-friendly version, or from a local retailer?
• Create Partnerships – Connect with other local/green-certified, businesses. These relationships often lead to lucrative referrals.
• Get Certified – Many local, national and industry-specific organizations are available to certify green businesses. Certification not only recognizes you for your achievement, but it also sets you apart from your competition
• Keep on Learning – Going green doesn’t happen over night. It’s a result of thoughtful choices and changing one’s habits. For tips on how you can be more eco-friendly, check out National Geographic’s Green Guide or attend the annual Green Festival in a city near you.
• Donate to an Environmental Non-Profit: Whether you choose to donate your time, or a portion of your earnings, organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Urban Forest and Greenpeace are just a few of many great organizations you can support.
Where Can I Go for More Information?
Green America – A national nonprofit consumer organization, promoting environmental sustainability, social justice, and economic justice.
Green Chamber of Commerce – Supports the development of sustainable business practices and advocates for a green public policy.
Bay Area Green Business Association – Just one of many city and county-specific organizations that certify green businesses.
Green Bride Guide – Everything you need to plan a green wedding.
Greener Photography – Certifies and educates professional photographers.
Written By Rebecca Wilkowski
Rebecca Wilkowski is a San Francisco Bay Area wedding photographer and photojournalist. She is a certified green photographer and one of only 11 photographers in the country approved to be part of Green America’s Green Business Network.