10 Tips for Being a Greener Photographer


You know us, we’re not really the preachy type.

But hey, it’s Earth Day tomorrow, right? So we’ve gathered a few useful pointers on how to keep your photographic habits from smacking the environment around too much. We’re firmly anti-smacking.

If you want some help cleaning up your act, we got ya covered. If not, that’s cool too.

We like you either way.

Ten Green Photography Tips

p.s. It’s Photojojo Photo Month at Instructables. Add your photo-themed Instructable and win awesome stuff from the Photojojo store! Enter here!

1: Go Digital

If you haven’t gone digital yet, it might be time to make the switch. Digital photography is easier on the landfills: less packaging, no used film cans in the trash. The film development process also involves toxic chemicals, and uses a tremendous amount of water and electricity.

Digital equipment may be more expensive in the short run, but you’ll eventually save money on film and processing.

2: Reuse Your Film Containers

film container flash diffuserStill shooting film? Don’t throw out your plastic film containers. Ritz Cameras accepts them for recycling at their stores.

Better yet, make stuff out of them! We don’t leave home without the flash diffuser we made. You can store tiny things in them: craft supplies, tiny screws, or your very own portable ant farm. Or go really green and use them to grow pocket plants!

3: Switch Batteries

batteriesTry using rechargeable batteries in your camera instead of ordinary ones. If you have a choice, pick lithium over nickel since it’s a bit less toxic. When your regular batteries die, don’t throw them out. There are lots of places that recycle them. Earth911 has loads of battery usage tips and a recycling location finder.

If your camera came with a custom rechargeable battery, charging it often may extend its life. Switching back and forth between 2 batteries can also keep them going longer. If you want more info, take a look at our article on extending your battery’s life.

4: Carry a Charge

solar camera bagIf you missed the solar charger camera bag in our holiday gift guide, take another look. It’s a regular camera bag, except for the solar panel on the top that charges your camera for you. It’s just so cool. Amazon has them for about $150.

5: Donate

Upgrading to a new camera? Donate your old one. The New Orleans Kid Camera Project and Picture Tomorrow both accept used cameras. Your local schools or after-school programs might also be able to use them.

6: Recycle

If you’ve completely busted your old camera, recycle that puppy. Staples stores accept used electronics for recycling, including cameras, cell phones and computers. They also take empty inkjet cartridges, so you don’t have to add those to the landfill either. Andrew Darlow’s article on Photojojo Uncut has buckets of good info.

7: Make Some Money

coinsIf you have a lot of stuff to donate or recycle, use it to make some money! Ecophones sponsors recycling fundraisers. They take cameras, cell phones, video games; you name it. Send in your boxes of junk electronics and they’ll send you a check.

It’s a great way to handle large recycling projects, say at your office or school. If you wanna get super-eco-hardcore, you can donate the check to an environmental charity. Whoa. Gnarly.

8: Switch Paper

GreenPix makes 100% post-consumer recycled inkjet paper. It’s available in matte finish, and comes in sizes from 4×6 all the way up to 24×36! Check out a review at Leafygreen.info, or buy it at Red River.

9: Reuse Unwanted Photos

If you’re using digital, only print the photos you really want. If you’re shooting film, don’t automatically get doubles. You can always print more of the ones you like.

If you have photos you don’t like, don’t throw them out. Write to-do lists on the back. Or write an address on the back, slap a stamp on them and send them as postcards. Cut them into fancy shapes and use them as gift tags. If you want to get exceptionally post-modern about it you can make them into a frame for another photo.

10: Use Your Camera For Good

If there’s a local environmental issue that really matters to you, take pictures of what’s going on. Call up whatever organization is fighting the problem and volunteer to take photos. They may need help getting the word out, and great pictures can make a big difference in raising awareness.

More Resources

  • Recycling meets fashion: bracelets made out of discarded camera components. Yeah, they’re pricey, but we totally want one. (via Boing Boing)
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  • We heard Grist‘s book Wake Up & Smell the Planet was funny, so we checked it out. And you know what? It is. Lots of tips on living green, plus some yukkity-yuk-yuk. We approve.