Friday, 14 September 2007

Thirteen Ways to be a Green Photographer

I remember sitting in a lecture and being amazed at the beautiful printed landscapes of the Peak District that had been taken by the lecturer. Then being equally amazed at his next statement. I no longer make images of landscapes as they are being trashed and I feel it is wrong ethically (he was referring to the fact that it encourages tourism) I was impressed with his stance to say the least. But it has led me to consider how “Green” my photography is in a digital world when I found this article on PopPhoto

The good news: Digital photography has taken huge amounts of chemicals
out of our waste stream, including bleach and silver, not to mention
millions of plastic-coated prints. The bad news: Digital sucks down a
lot of electricity and requires new equipment, which consumes lots of
resources and creates considerable eco-impacts, usually far away. Here
are a few things all photographers can do to be greener.

1. Watch the Power Meter

With digital, you'll need to keep your power consumption under control
if you don't want to warm the planet: Every kilowatt-hour you use
produces about 1.4 pounds of the greenhouse gases that cause global
warming. Choose Energy Star-certified equipment, and turn off or put to
sleep your computer, display, printer, and scanner when you can. Invest
in a power meter like the Kill A Watt to keep tabs on your usage -- you
may be in for unpleasant surprises.

2. Choose Your Power

A digital studio, including your Mac Pro computer, your Epson Stylus
Pro 3800 printer, and your Nikon D80 charger, will consume hundreds or
thousands of kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. Make sure that power
is coming from renewable, non-carbon-polluting sources. Through your
utility, switch to wind, hydro, or other sources; it may cost a little
more, but rebates can help with that, and you're making a difference
where it counts, at the source.

3. Recycle Everything

A digital studio will still produce paper waste -- it makes up about a
third of our trash. Recycle every scrap; making a ton of paper from
waste requires about two-thirds less energy than from wood pulp.
Recycle ink cartridges (office stores and online retailers will give
you credit for empties) and, when necessary, electronics. Electronic
waste has harmful metals and chemicals; give it to a recycling plant
that will salvage for useful parts and not just dump it in a landfill.

4. Shoot Locally

Transportation accounts for one-third of the average American's "carbon
footprint" -- the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that contribute to
global warming. If you're typical, you're responsible for about 15,000
pounds of CO2 a year. One round trip to shoot
Maui's jungle could
account for half of that.

5. Offset Your CO2

Can't stay home? Can't get your computer, scanner, and printer off the
grid? You can help offset your footprint by buying carbon credits via
companies such as and NativeEnergy. Your money will help create renewable-energy sources and meet other conservation goals.

6. Conserve Energy

The basic energy tips you're practicing in your nonphoto life will work
in the studio, too. Using compact fluorescent bulbs and taking a degree
or two off the thermostat in winter (and adding a degree in summer)
will save energy and keep hundreds of pounds of CO2 out of the

7. Unplug It All

Rechargers and other equipment left on standby create phantom loads
that waste megawatts every year. Unplug rechargers and power down
anything you're not using that has a little green or red light on it.
You'll save money and keep CO2 out of the atmosphere.

8. Watch the Chemicals

Processing in a darkroom? Use chemicals less harmful to the
environment, such as Kodak's Xtol and other ascorbate (vitamin C)
developers. Manufacturers say quantities you use at home can be
disposed via your sewer. Check for nontoxic solutions.

9. Find Greener Options

Explore recycled papers such as Red River Paper's Green Pix, use
rechargeable batteries (NiMH is better than NiCd), and, if you print a
lot, buy ink in bulk rather than blowing through plastic cartridges.
Extra credit: Get a solar-powered battery charger.

10. Be a Responsible Consumer

Vote for the environment with your wallet: Ask camera, paper, and film
manufacturers about environmental efforts, from recycling to energy use
to materials.

11. Shoot the Change You Want in the World

It's not just how you shoot, it's what you shoot. Think about how your
images can represent solutions or illuminate a new angle on an
environmental problem.

12. Spread the Word

Small steps add up when millions join in. Tell two friends about your
new, greener way of looking at photography. They'll tell two friends,
and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on...

13. Make It Last

A long-lived camera is environmentally friendly. Do your research, buy
great stuff, and treat it right: It takes a great deal of materials,
energy, and pollutants to make a new camera, and pretty much zero to
keep your current one in tip-top shape.

Assignment: Earth Portfolio

New Networks for Conservation Photographers

Inside the Green Studio

2 Ways to Shoot a Landscape

Edward Burtynsky's Silent Persuasion

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