Earth Day is Friday April 22, 2011 and I thought it would be appropriate to make some suggestions for things we can all do to be a little kinder to Mother Earth. Since I have an environmental background (my college degree is environmental science) and I have tried many of the things that I am suggesting, perhaps I can do my part to help the environment through education, instead of just action.
Some of my suggestions will be a little bit routine or may be things that you do already. But never underestimate the power of simplicity and habit. Good habits (which may be simple habits) make all the difference in the world and add up to something significant over time. Just imagine if you recycled all of the aluminum cans or plastic bottles you used in the past 10 years. And it starts with one can or bottle at a time!
1. Recycle. Start a small recycling program at your home or office. Being environmentally conscious is contagious and begins when one person sets the standard by creating an environmental example for others to follow. Take the initiative to make it easier for those around you to recycle by creating bins for recycling. If your company or companions at home don’t have a program, do the leg work yourself by emptying the recycling bins each week at the local recycling center.
2. Compost. Did you know that every year we throw away tons of organic waste (imagine things like yard clippings, food, etc.) without a second thought? This waste is then placed in landfills where space is limited; yet, when placed in a natural compost pile and allowed to naturally decompose, it becomes rich fertilizer/fill material in a short period of time. Build your own compost pile with these instructions.
3. Conserve Energy. There are endless things you can do in your home to conserve energy. Adjust your home thermostat to a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter. In the summer utilize your ceiling fan to mix air and make it feel cooler in your home. Turn off lights and replace old bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs. Get rid of old “energy hogs” (appliances that use lots of energy, especially refrigerators and HVAC units). Upon last check, the City of Austin was purchasing old refrigerators for $50, including pickup!
4. Conserve Water. One alternative that is growing in popularity for saving water is to install an aerator on sinks and faucets. Another option is installing a low-flow toilet in your home. Be smart about how you use water: water your lawn/garden less and when you do, water in the morning or evening so that less water evaporates and more is absorbed into soil. Like long showers? They are really an unnecessary luxury – start reducing the time that you take showers.
5. “Green” Cleaners. There are lots of options here and these days you can find an organic replacement for most of the cleaners under your kitchen sink. Sometimes it just takes a little more work and effort, but it will be worth it. Why put the lives of your friends and family at stake when there are so many organic alternatives?!
6. Avoid Plastics. Say “No” to plastic bags. Re-use the plastic bags you have. Use re-usable (cloth?) bags when you carry groceries from the grocery store.
7. Save Paper. Choose the option to not have paper copies of bills and magazines delivered to your home, as well as junk mail. Think before you print: Ask yourself, “Do I really need to print this?” When you need to purchase paper, think about buying recycled paper.
8. Carpool/Bus. Pretty self-explanatory; If you drive alone, check with friends or on bulletin boards at work to find others who might share a ride with you to work. Public transportation is another alternative to driving alone. You will likely save money and the environment!
9. Car Maintenance. If you drive a car (like many Texans do) then it’s environmentally responsible to maintain your car so that it reaches its maximum efficiency for fuel consumption and the minimum amount of pollution is created coming from the tailpipe.
10. Big Purchase Environmental Options. If you have considerably more money to spend and you’re looking to do the “green” thing and help the environment, consider one of the following:
- Install a solar water/pool heater;
- Purchase a hybrid/electric car;
- Install photovoltaic cells (“solar panels”) to power your home;
- Install geothermal heating/cooling unit at your home;
- Build a custom enviro-friendly home using precise environmental guidelines for your area (such as north-south orientation, roof overhangs, natural/recycled building materials, etc.)
- Build water recycling/capture system to conserve water.
Austin Americana Photography is excited to announce that we are teaming up with Greener Photography to become the greenest photography studio that we can be. How? Well, there are many small things that we can do, environmentally speaking. But first, what does “green” mean?
Wikipedia defines “green” (also, eco-friendly or environmentally friendly) as, “synonyms used to refer to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies considered to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment. To make consumers aware, environmentally friendly goods and services often are marked with eco-labels. But because there is no single international standard for this concept, the International Organization for Standardization considers such labels too vague to be meaningful.”
Being “green” is still new and a concept for which a foundation is currently being laid. Each individual has an idea of what being “green” means to him or her. Here’s how we intend to become a greener studio, some of which we already do:
- When buying new equipment is necessary, we buy products from the following green companies that have a strong commitment to the environment and various environmental programs: Canon USA, Fuji Film, Kodak, LowePro and UPS.
- We offer green products when available, including recycled paper and other recycled products related to albums.
- We offer clients a CD of images after wedding day (as opposed to huge numbers of print proofs that get thrown away).
- We use high efficiency automobiles (when travel is required).
- We pass along all unused electronic equipment to others who use it.
- We pass along broken equipment to local recycling centers.
- We combine home/office working space to save energy.
- We recycle all office waste.
- We use recycled materials for printing and wherever possible.
We realize that there is always more to do and improvements to make in order to fully realize the potential of becoming green and reducing our carbon footprint (calculate your carbon footprint here) on earth. Therefore, we intend to continue our effort to become the greenest studio that we can be my making continuous positive changes to how we do business, one step at a time.
From The Greener Photography Website:
Greener Photography, a non-profit organization, actively seeks to mitigate the environmental impact of the photography industry by educating photographers, suppliers and the general public about the benefits of going green. The organization was founded by wedding photographer Thea Dodds and portrait photographer Dawn Tacker who were both looking to make their studios more environmentally-friendly. Finding the resources necessary for greening their businesses, however, proved challenging. Dodds and Tacker found themselves spending countless hours researching and sifting through information, often trying to decide what was truly an environmentally friendly option, versus a product or service just jumping on the “green” bandwagon.
“After we spent an enormous amount of time and energy doing the research to make our own businesses more eco-friendly, we realized that other photographers really could benefit from this information. If we could help other photographers more easily green their studios, we’d be not only be helping the photography community, but also the environment. That’s when Greener Photography was born,” said Tacker.
Eco Friendly Links provided by Greener Photography:
Carbon Compass – Australian carbon reduction tips
Eco Wedding – Green Wedding Resource Guide – Free listing
Ethical Weddings -
Forest Stewardship Council – U.S. – FSC-certified papers
Forest Stewardship Council Canada – FSC-certified Printers
Green America –
Green Bride Guide – Free listing and upgrade discount for GP members
Green Elegance Weddings -
Green Maven -
Grow Me the Money – Australian business sustainability program.
Home Energy Resource – Energy gadgets
International Society of Sustainability Professionals -
International Solar Energy Society -
Tree Hugger -
Wrap Art – Clever ways to re-purpose waste materials