This is an expanded article from the Frequently Unasked Questions pages on my portrait photography website and my wedding photography website. If you click on the link, you can read more of them. We’ll be expanding more of the questions on the FUQs and FAQs page in the coming months.
Opie, you haven’t finished your milk. We can’t put it back in the cow, you know. ~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
Earth Stewardship For People With Commitment Issues
Lately, everybody’s arguing about the environment. Don’t drill there. Smog alert this. Global warming that. It kinda makes you feel overwhelmed. But not long ago, we had a bit of an epiphany (a ginormous moment of smartness) at our house. Being environmentally responsible isn’t a big commitment. It’s just a whole lotta really little commitments. And we do mean little. Here are a few we’ve made in our business and in our home.
Act Locally, You Know, Like, At Your House
Everything we do starts right here on the website, so our environmental commitment starts here too. This wedding and portrait photography website (everything you’re staring at now) is hosted by a company whose data centers, web servers, and offices are entirely wind powered.
We use Canon photographic equipment to make the photos you see. Canon has made a worldwide commitment to improving the environment by using earth friendly manufacturing processes and creating products that are recyclable whenever possible.
The Power Of One
We’ve recently invested in high quality rechargeable batteries. That may not seem like a very big deal, until you consider a few facts. At a typical wedding, we will often exhaust 16 or more AA batteries. If we do only 20 weddings in a year, that’s over 300 batteries. And that’s just weddings. So, we switched. Each Eneloop rechargeable battery can be recharged 1500 times. That’s a huge hunk of landfill that we’re not making. Plus, it’s cheaper. Lots cheaper. And saving greenbacks is kinda green too. Less printing for the Fed.. ha ha.
In the office, we made several other small green decisions. I use an iMac to edit everything. iMacs are designed with the environment in mind. They have arsenic-free display glass, are free from brominated flame retardants, have mercury-free LED backlit displays, and are PVC free. They also meet ENERGY STAR v5.0 requirements, and achieved a Gold rating from EPEAT2. So, if I’m honest here, the only thing I understood in all that is ENERGY STAR, which means: Yay! Less electricity. But I bet the other stuff is good too. (Arsenic is bad, right?)
All our hard-drives (and that is saying a lot… we currently have about 12 external drives) are Western Digital Caviar Green. These drives use less power and have lower operating temperatures, which means less climate management in the office… yay to less A/C! All the electronic gadgets running in here can really heat it up. And here in Georgia, the biggest power consumer is the air conditioner, hands down. Summer lasts like, 30 months or something. Gack.
In fact, all year round we isolate the studio from the rest of the building (ahem, keep the door closed), maintaining the temperature for the electronics in only the one room, instead of the whole house. This helps us control our energy consumption.
Little Steps, Grasshopper
How many jugglers does it take to change a light bulb? One, but it takes three bulbs.
How many dull people does it take to change a light bulb? One.
We switched to all CFL bulbs. I know you’re sick of hearing about them, but if you break it down, CFL bulbs are good for everyone because:
- They use less energy = good for the planet + good for your wallet
- They last longer = good for the planet + good for your wallet
- They generate less heat = less A/C = good for the planet + good for your wallet.
What’s not to like? Now they even come in different light temperatures, so no more icky green skin.
More Little Green Choices
We participate in our local recycling program. Every week we have three parts recycling for every one part trash that we throw away. That’s really sweet.
We conduct most of our business electronically, so almost no paper is generated.
We use a Brita water filter and drink it from a glass instead of bottled water. (Well, I do. Jessica should drink more water.)
We switched from paper napkins to cloth, and from paper towels to terry towels.
Keep It Going
There’s also my car. While we could debate a bit about whether or not driving a Jeep Cherokee can be considered earth friendly, I’d submit that keeping and maintaining my car for 11 years (so far) and driving over 265,000 miles in one vehicle is about as earth friendly as it gets. In the same amount of time that many of my friends have purchased, driven, and traded 3 or 4 new cars, I’ve made a commitment to keeping my car in excellent condition and driving it until the wheels fall off. Doesn’t look like that’s going to be anytime soon, either. Think I can get a million? And by the way, my other ride is a Triumph Bonneville that gets 50mpg.
This one is really tough on us, but since there are just the two of us, we can work in our pajamas. This grave sacrifice is made in order to reduce laundry, which in turn reduces our water and energy consumption. It’s for the environment! Really!
And finally, we use the library. A lot. ‘Nuff said.
Spreading the Love
One last thing. In parallel to our commit to our environment is our commitment to our global community. We volunteer our time locally to such organizations as The Giving Tree and Help-Portrait, and we pledge 10% of our session or event fees to either Kiva.org or Heifer International, because we believe that saving our planet is equal parts protecting the trees and protecting the people. You can read more about that on our Karma Bank page.
P.S. How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to hold the giraffe, and one to put the clocks in the bathtub.
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