The first article in the Tips for Greener Photography series offered tips to make your photography office greener. This month the focus will be on incorporating green practices into your business. There are simple things you can do right now to change your business practices and workflow, make your business greener, and offer greener products.
Here are some ideas to inspire you to make your business more eco-friendly.
Greener business practices and workflow
- Go paperless by leveraging the power of the Internet and uploading client information and forms to the Web. Your client can book her wedding, sign her contract, and pay invoices online.
- Utilize online Web galleries to proof your sessions and albums. In-person projection proofing is also a great way to reduce the need to provide your clients with paper proofs.
- If you provide your clients with digital images, use portable or reusable hard drives to deliver the images instead of a CD or DVD. It is always more desirable to provide a client with a reusable versus a disposable option.
- Choose online banking, have your bills sent via e-mail and pay them online.
- Print all of your paperwork double-sided, then recycle your waste paper.
- Use recycled paper for necessary printing, including marketing collateral, business cards and sample products. Many printing companies offer printing with soy- or wax-based inks and recycled paper; check out the list at Greener Photography (greenerphotography.org/links.html).
- It is better to reuse than to recycle. Reuse cardboard boxes to ship client orders. Donate extra cardboard boxes to local preschools, art classes, or shipping stores. Reuse shredded documents as packing material.
- Recycle ink cartridges, CDs and DVDs. For more information on recycling CDs and DVDs check out cdrecyclingcenter.org.
- Try to eliminate sensitive paperwork that requires shredding.
- Use short-run printing when it is appropriate. For example, print a small quantity of brochures, then order another small quantity when your inventory is low.
Greener office practices and technology
- Conserve electricity by turning off and unplugging electronics when not in use: computers, televisions, projectors, scanners, printers, battery chargers, lights.
- If you use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect your computer and storage drives, plug a power strip into the UPS, and turn off the strip when your electronics are not in use.
- Use compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and recycle them properly when finished.
- Use website hosting that operates with renewable energy certificates or runs their power directly from renewable energy sources. Find a list of companies at Greener Photography (greenerphotography.org/links.html)
- Subscribe to online newsletters or magazines. Donate existing magazines to schools, hospitals, nursing homes or libraries. If you can’t re-use, then definitely recycle.
- Plan your errands into as few as trips as possible to save on gas and time. Read more about economy of motion.
- Purchase office supplies that are reusable or made from recycled material.
- Consider buying used, refurbished, or remanufactured equipment before buying new equipment.
- Reuse your junk mail for shipping labels or draft printing.
- Dispose of unusable electronic waste safely (Greener Photography Links page).
Greener client products and services
- Offer greener paper products for clients, including recycled paper for announcements and cards. Look for certifications such as Forest Steward Certification (FSC), recycled, or organic.
- Offer prints using fibers such as canvas or cotton rag.
- Offer frames made from recycled/reclaimed wood.
- Offer albums and books with eco-friendly components.
- Buy products and components made locally when possible, or at least buy those made domestically. Look for claims such as “Made in the USA,” non-toxic, and sustainable.
- Patronize companies with an environmental action plan.
- Create incentives for your clients to use other local, green businesses; network with other green businesses to cross-promote eco-friendly offers.
- For links to greener client products and recycling information, go to Greener Photography.
Incorporating eco-friendly practices into your photography business is easy. These tips will get you started on the right track. Look for more green tips in future web exclusive articles.
For more tips on greener photography and resources to help you find greener products and vendors, visit greenerphotography.org.
For more information on some of the products and services mentioned here to help make your business greener, visit:
Greener Photography (http://www.greenerphotography.org/index.html)
The Freecycle Network (http://www.freecycle.org)
E-waste recycling (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/index.htm)
Green web hosting (http://www.greenerphotography.org/links.html)
Erica Velasco is a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer based in Phoenix, Ariz. She specializes in eco-chic custom photography services, using eco-friendly photographic practices and products. You can view more of Erica’s work at visionphotographs.com and visionphotographs.com/blog.