In a day and age where climate change is not accepted by every human on earth as fact, it is up to us as individuals and communities to make a difference where we can. As a business owner and Denver wedding photographer, I have made a pledge to keep my company as green as possible and wanted to share a bit about what that looks like.
While a lot of these tenets have been in place over the years (e.g. recycling, air-drying clothes, etc.), some are brand-new and I’m excited to become more mindful of how I can impact the world. Here are some of my hard and fast rules as a small-business owner in Denver:
- Electronic image delivery only. It’s been awhile since I’ve delivered images through snail mail, as most, if not all, computers don’t come with a CD/DVD burning drive anymore. My laptop that I purchased in 2013 doesn’t have a disc drive, so instead, I used to deliver images from sessions on a USB drive. In 2014, however, I decided to jump in and eliminate creating as much waste from packaging materials as possible and switched all deliveries, for weddings, engagement photos and everything else, to electronic gallery hosting through Zenfolio.
- All contracts are housed and signed online. Back in my previous life of being a teacher, I would sneakily print out massive contracts to have clients sign them (which I would then send in the mail, creating more waste). Now, I use Mach Forms and Honeybook to keep all of my contracts and important paperwork online. Clients can conveniently sign contracts on their phones and instead of sending them a paper copy for their records, I email them a PDF.
- Walking wherever and whenever I can. Recently, I moved to the Highlands, where I put down roots and bought a condo. I’m about a two-mile walk from Union Station and even closer, more importantly, to Tacos Tequila Whiskey, so whenever I can, I will hoof it to a downtown shoot or a client meeting. If I’m having a tough day getting work done at home and want to get some editing done at a coffee shop, I’ll head to Novo Coffee down the street instead of driving somewhere. I love that I don’t have to rely on my car as much anymore in the new neighborhood that I live in, and I especially enjoy being able to squeeze in a little bit more exercise this way, too.
- Carpooling to weddings. On wedding days where my second photographer and I can be in the same location and don’t have to worry about scuttling back and forth between different getting ready sites, I always try to pick up my assistant and head to the wedding together. So far this year, I’ve had weddings that have taken place all in one location (Della Terra Mountain Chateau and the Lyons Riverbend and Farmette, for example), which not only makes for smooth and timely transitions between wedding day events, but it also cuts down on the amount that everyone, myself and guests included, is driving.
- Frequenting businesses that offer receipts via email. As mentioned above, I will bring my laptop to Novo Coffee or Corvus Coffee off South Broadway to get work done and to get a change of scenery from the kitchen table. These places, along with a lot of other local business, offer the option for email receipts instead of printing them out for tax records.
- Ordering prints and canvas wraps all at once. When I get print orders for a few images printed on canvas, I try to group ordering everything at the same time to cut down on shipping material waste from the print shop.
- Buying recycled materials when needed. After the wedding is over and the photos have been delivered, I like to drop a little thank-you card in the mail and I do my best to buy cards printed on recycled paper from local boutiques. My business cards are also all printed on recycled paper but man, if we’re being honest here, I can’t even remember the last time I gave one out. Currently, I have a stack of about 100 cards left over from last season’s old branding on it. With a new website that I just recently debuted, I’m thinking about recycling the old cards and not ordering any new ones as I feel that the process of handing them out is becoming obsolete. Instead, it’s just as easy to whip out your phone and look someone up on Instagram or Facebook.
- Using rechargeable batteries. All of my camera bodies use rechargeable lithium ion batteries and all of my speedlites (flashes) use rechargeable AA batteries. My favorites to buy are Sanyo Eneloops off Amazon.
- Limiting energy use in the office. As I work from home many days out of the week, I try to keep a strict routine to conserve energy, especially during the hot months in the summer. My condo was built in 1896, and as such, forced air in this building is definitely not a thing. Instead, I use black-out drapes and a smaller AC unit (only on at the peak hot times of the day) to keep things cool. At night, it’s all old-school box-fans in the window to suck in the cool evening air. Additionally, all light bulbs in my home are CFL and I somehow lucked out with brand-new appliances in my kitchen that are fantastic at saving energy.
- May I present to you, the love of my life, aka: my single-serve coffee maker. Okay, this one may be a bit of a stretch, but I love it just the same. I really hate wasting food in my everyday life, coffee filters included. I have a Black and Decker one-cup coffee maker that I use for those at-home work days. You don’t need to use pods or anything that introduces extra waste; just add coffee grounds into the little brew cup and that’s all you need!
- Using shower water sparingly. I might gross you out on this one, but when it’s just me and my roommate Jill (who is also a photographer) at home and I’m hunkering down for an editing binge, I will usually skip a shower when I can. Thankfully, my dog, Sherman, doesn’t judge my un-washed hair, but I figure if it’s just me and the computer, who cares? (p.s. sorry if I smell, Jill)
Is there something I’m missing or could be doing a better job at? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear what you do to affect positive change in our environment!