Tips for Greener Photography: Beyond the Three Rs


By Jessica Riehl

The heart of any environmental conservation program are tenets that make up the recycling symbol: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But why limit ourselves to just three R's? These are Greener Photography's favorite five R's to help you run a greener photography business.


• Reduce the amount of paper you use on a regular basis by printing front and back; consider implementing a paperless office.
• Reduce the number of shipments you receive from your lab by consolidating orders into as few shipments as possible.
• Reduce your energy consumption by turning off equipment when not in use, replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs, and use natural forms of heating and cooling.


• Refuse that plastic bag when you purchase items where a bag is not necessary, or bring your own bags.
• Refuse bottled water. Invest in a water cooler, filtration system, and/or a water bottle.
• Refuse, or rather refer, jobs that require air travel.
• Refuse shipping upgrades to 2-Day Air. Ground shipping is significantly less polluting.
• Refuse to patronize businesses that do not have an environmental statement.


• Reuse your office paper by shredding and using it as packaging materials, printing on the back of it, or using it as scrap paper.
• Reuse the boxes you receive your product in by using them to ship products to clients. You can also reuse the cardboard inserts by donating them to a local art class.
• Reuse batteries by investing in rechargeable batteries.


• Designate a place in your studio to recycle paper. Check with your local recycler to see what you can and cannot recycle.
• Recycle any cardboard that cannot be reused.
• Recycle your electronic equipment instead of throwing it in the trash. To locate a recycling center near you, check
• Buy products made from recycled materials!

Finally, consider adding a fifth R to your environmental plan: Replenish. Be responsible for the sustainability of the resources that you consume. Even when we recycle, there is waste produced. Recycling also requires energy, which produces carbon dioxide. We can choose to replenish by selecting FSC-Certified paper and products made from natural materials, and by purchasing carbon offsets.

Look for creative ways to integrate the five Rs into your business. What other R's can you come up with to reduce the impact of photography on the environment? We would love to hear your ideas! Check out Greener Photography.

Jessica Riehl is the owner of Jessica Riehl Photography, and a contributing member of Greener Photography. She is also a member of Professional Photographers of America and Virginia Professional Photographers.


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Comments (1)

Just makes you wonder about how much waste you are actually producing.

I suppose digital photography is a step closer as you usually check that the picture is perfect before you print


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