Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Special: Being a Green Photographer

Happy Earth Day!

If you want to run a profitable photography business and still want to be nice to the earth, you will have to think and act green. In general, that means you will want to look at ways of reducing your consumption (energy, materials), and your emissions (CO2, waste, hazardous materials).

Let's kick around some ideas on how to reduce consumption and emissions. You'll find out that most of these ideas will also save you money, and increase your bottom line!

Change out incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent. Last year I changed 90% of the bulbs in my house and yes, my electricity dropped. Cost: $50-100, payback <1yr.>

Put your house and/or studio on a setback thermometer, which has both time of day and day of week settings. There is no sense in heating or cooling when no one is there. Cost: $50-150, payback around a year. Keep the filters and ducts clean and unobstructed. Make sure your buildings are properly shaded and sealed against air and heat loss.

Switch to that tiny car. Advertise your green-ness by driving a hybrid or high MPG vehicle. We have two hybrids, which I promote in my business marketing. I will be honest that you probably won't get a payback on a standard model vs hybrid, but if you're trading in a Hummer or Conversion Van at 10MPG for a Civic (my story), the main gain is the small car...the Hybrid option is more of a statement than a real financial gain. Also - you can save a lot of fuel with basic driving behavior changes: combine trips, keep those tires inflated, and drive like you have no brakes - limit heavy acceleration and braking, and look 1/2 mile ahead to decide if you need to accelerate. Since I don't have a studio, I advertise that my studio (Civic Hybrid) gets 45MPG!

Don't print and use lots of paper for your internal workflows. Use spreadsheets and online to-do lists. Sign up to have junk mail reduced or eliminated. Switch from direct mail to online marketing - Facebook, etc. Reduce your "dunnage" related to photo delivery. Drop ship orders to your customers to avoid double-handling. For the waste from your incominb print lab shipments, find someone in your area who can use the bubble wrap and other packing in their outbound shipping business. Recycle paper (shred the personal stuff), magazines and cardboard, regardless of whether your municipality requires it. Replace your seamless paper with muslin or durable vinyl.

Recycle your disposable batteries. Use Lithium instead of alkalines. Use rechargables when you can. Minimize proof printing to keep your labs' chemical use low. Do more online and on DVD. Recycle the inkjet cartridges and used computer equipment.

Collect "grey" rainwater for your landscaping. Don't offer bottled water in your studio. Follow basic water conservation - low-flow shower heads, low-capacity toilets. Turn it off when you shave/brush.

Solid Waste
Compost. Recycle the cans and bottles and all plastic stuff. Separate and recycle all of the applicable trash.

Marketing Ideas

Here are some ideas to leverage your "green-ness" in promoting your business:
  • Blog about the top 10 reasons why you are green. Here's my post from last year.
  • Offer a "GREEN" senior session. All natural light, all outdoors destinations, all e-proofing, no paper at all (except for the final prints). Bundle a tree seedling or other nice eco-gift or give-back.
  • Offer a reusable shopping bag with your studio logo instead of paper delivery bags.
  • Sponsor a volunteer activity such as adopt-a-highway or waterway cleanup.
  • Volunteer your time and services to help an environmentally-oriented nonprofit.

Stay Green!

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