The Green Photographer

What is a “Green Photographer”?

A “Green Photographer” can be defined as one who uses renewable resources (environmentally sustainable) and is accountable for the human resource aspect of their activities (socially responsible).  Driven by the economy, greater awareness of climate change / global warming, and consumer pressure to be more eco-friendly, many photographers are choosing to become green.  Being Green requires developing an attitude toward sustainability and practices that can be incorporated into our everyday lives.  Being a green photographer means changing the way you operate, purchase, develop, produce, and provide products and services so you make has a positive impact on the environment.

Being a green business means going beyond minimum standards. When it comes to the environment, a green business exceeds all minimum legal standards and goes beyond basic compliance. A green business not only develops practices that are specific to their line of business and keeps up to date on issues specific to their industry; a green business also implements practices that are common to all businesses, such as reducing, reusing, and recycling.  Think of the planet as a warehouse of goods. When you use the goods, you have to pay for them with money or fair trade. When you use the environment’s resources, you have to pay the environment back to offset your consumption.

How do photographers become “green”?

Becoming a greener photographer involves a learning curve where you will learn how others have changed their practices, then make changes to your own practices that are appropriate to you. Going green involves determining how you impact the environment, your energy and water usage, and the amount of waste you produce. You will also need to review how you qualify the vendors you use and determine how they produce and provide you with products.

Start by Taking Small Steps, and Make it Easy to Participate

Many people feel overwhelmed by the steps involved in going green. They talk themselves out of it by saying things like “It’s too expensive” or “It’s too time consuming”. Actually, if done correctly, going green becomes a part of who you are and the way you do your daily business. It can save your business money, help you get new customers and stay competitive.  You will find that the easier you make it on yourself and your staff, the more benefit you will gain from it. For example, if you place recycle bins around the company in convenient conspicuous places, you will find your staff is more likely to use them.


The Three “R”s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


“Reducing” is the most important of the Three R’s to focus on initially. It has the biggest impact and can have significant cost savings for your business.

Ideas to reduce energy usage, water consumption and waste:

• Use only digital cameras – Film production and processing requires a lot of harsh chemicals

• Choose a local online printing provider instead of printing yourself

• Encourage your clients to only print images they really need on paper

• Turn off lights, install timers or motion sensors

• Replace incandescent bulbs with Compact Florescent Lights (CFLs)

• Replace older florescent fixtures with newer energy-efficient ones

• Buy in bulk or buy items with reduced / recyclable packaging

• Reduce car use, consolidate car trips into one, carpool, ride a bike, take public transit

• Reduce travel by using video / telephone conferencing

• Keep automobiles well maintained and recycle automotive fluids

• Remove your name from mailing lists:

• Install low-flush toilets and water restrictors on faucets and shower heads

• Improve Landscaping – Repair broken sprinkler heads, adjust timers, install a drip system, eliminate over watering and runoff, plant drought resistant plants, AND use mulch to reduce evaporation. NOTE: Some water companies use certain chemicals to treat the water that can be harmful to fish. Reducing runoff may be a requirement in your area.

• Avoid using disposable products, paper plates, plastic utensils, napkins, paper towels, cups

• Choose longer lasting products

• Buy energy efficient appliances and durable goods

• Buy locally produced goods and buy from local stores

• Avoid purchasing products that have a lot of packaging or have to be shipped to you

• Change the chemicals you purchase to ones that have lower impact on the environment, including cleaning supplies, paint, pest control, fertilizer, etc.

• Chemical Management: Reduce the amounts of hazardous chemicals that you purchase and store to the absolute minimum. Keep chemicals in properly sealed containers stored in a locked closet. Keep an up to date MSDS binder nearby in case of accidents or spills.

• Have appliances cleaned and serviced regularly to improve performance. Clean your dryer filter after each use and have the exhaust duct cleaned at least annually. Vacuum behind/under refrigerators to improve air-flow. Make sure to defrost small refrigerators frequently to prevent ice build-up and improve performance. Make sure there is proper space around appliances that need to dissipate heat,

• Check the power save mode on all electronic devices, including computers, printers, fax machines and copiers.

• Print less, e-mail more. Try e-mail marketing to your existing customers.

• Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Get some exercise while saving energy.

• Add a line at the bottom of your e-mail signature asking users to consider the environment before printing it. It serves as a constant reminder to others not to waste paper.


Ideas for reusing items:

• Purchase reusable products, such as rechargeable batteries, washable towels

• Purchase used products, it saves money and provides a path for reuse

• Save packing material you receive and reuse for shipping

• Use white boards and e-mail to replace sticky notes

• Print on both sides, write notes on scrap paper

• Reuse binders and file folders

• Use reusable shopping bags, provide reusable bags to your customers

• Use resealable containers instead of plastic bags

• Refill ink cartridges

• Use washable towels, cloth napkins, and table cloths instead of disposables

• Reuse newspapers as packing material for shipping or moving

• Reuse clothing by donating them, turning them into doll’s clothes or using them as rags

• If you can’t reuse an item, sell it or donate it so someone else gets use out of it. Examples include charitable thrift stores, salvage yards, food banks, toys for tots, used equipment stores, eWaste drop-offs, etc.

• Repair, Refurbish, Re-manufacture – The following are examples of items that can be repaired, refurbished, or re-manufactured into something useful: Toner/Ink cartridges, single-use cameras, appliances, electronic equipment

• Avoid reusing items designed for one-time use, such as plastic water/soda bottles. Studies have shown that reuse of these can release chemicals when they are in less than perfect condition.


You are probably already doing some form of basic recycling. Cans, bottles, plastics, paper, cardboard can all be recycled easily. Most garbage companies offer recycle bins of some sort to both regular businesses and home-based businesses. Some only offer large cardboard recycling bins while others offer mixed paper or plastic and can recycling too. Check with your local waste company for details on their offerings.

Determine if there are any other items you can recycle. One way to do this is to take a look in your garbage bin right before it is picked up. See if any materials are being disposed of that could be recycled instead.

Ideas for recycling:

• Choose to buy recycled and recyclable products

• Purchase paper with at least 30% recycled content. Try 100% recycled content, but it may cause excess jams in some older printers/copiers.

• Recycle paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum cans, plastics, bottles, etc

• Recycle plastic grocery bags by returning them to the store, or better yet, bring your own reusable bag to the store with you

• Avoid purchasing juice “boxes”, as they are made up of a complex mixture of paper, plastic and metal that is difficult to recycle

• Avoid Styrofoam containers, as they are not recyclable!

• Recycle ink & toner cartridges and buy refilled cartridges. HP provides return envelopes with many of their products and some office supply stores offer discounts if you return cartridges

• Make recycling easy for your staff by placing bins in convenient locations around the facility

• Recycle batteries

• Recycle E-Waste* – Televisions, Cellular Phones, PDAs, iPods, Computers, Video Game Consoles, Sound Systems, Consumer Electronics

• Recycle Paint – Can be recycled by reprocessing or reblending

• Recycle automotive fluids, tires and car batteries

• Recycle eyeglasses

• Florescent products contain mercury that cannot be processed by normal curbside recycling. Recycle florescent tubes and CFLs by taking them to a recycling center or hardware store that has a recycle bin specifically for florescent products.

• Save packing material you receive and reuse for shipping

• Save yard waste and organic kitchen scraps for use in Composting

• Recycle old appliances. If recycling an old refrigerator or air conditioner, make sure that the recycler can handle removing the refrigerant properly.

*Remember, E-Waste cannot simply be thrown into a recycle bin. It must be processed by an eWaste recycler.

This guide for photographers who want to be greener is an excerpt from
9 Steps to Greening Your Business“, by Kevin Slovick, Co-Owner of Fun Photo Guys®.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s