The short answer: A mindset. The long answer: Soo many things!
The Back Story
When I started my photographic endeavor, almost 12 years ago, I wasn’t into printing my images at all (see previous blog post about this fear). Rather, I enjoyed playing memory maker, just as I had when my parents gifted me that plastic pink Kodak 110 film camera, when I was, well… coincidentally, 12.
In 2009, I decided to take a step forward and registered my business with the Minnesota Secretary of State. Once that was done, I started shooting, then I got insurance, yada, yada, yada (and no, I wouldn’t suggest that order).
When I realized the Importance
I never really gave any thought to how my Blaine home-based photography business was green or Eco-conscious until I began printing my artwork. When I printed clients images or fine artwork on regular photographic paper, or even canvas, it felt, well, cheap, on many levels.
Not only did I find the glossy coating feeling like plastic, but canvas also left me unsatisfied in quality and crispness. This left printing my work stagnant and feeling gross. Not an especially good place for an artist. Why would I want to print on materials that I can’t appreciate. If I didn’t feel good about them, I knew my clients wouldn’t either. Thus began a several year search for quality products I felt proud to put Sarah Grace Photography’s name behind.
My searches turned up one product at a time. My first and most immediate need was for prints for my artwork. I was curating the show for my Project “R-365: A Year’s Worth of the Unwanted” and I needed to be environmentally friendly with all aspects of this work. I discovered bamboo paper and never looked back.
Bamboo is a very strong grass, which regrows as soon as it is cut, so, there’s no need for planting nor is there a need to fertilize. Bamboo also uses less water on the growing and manufacturing fronts. All of these qualities, coupled with the fact that it is a creamy off-white color and soft texture, made me fall in love with the way artwork is displayed on it.
For anything I can not get printed on bamboo, I have printed on post-consumer recycled products. This includes framed metal prints, stationary, notes, receipts, and boxes and packing material for shipping which are re-used.
Beyond the printed products of a green photography studio, there are other factors that come into play in greening my business. I partner with vendors who support my ideology and purchase from companies that are local, plant trees with my orders, used up-cycled materials themselves, or have less of an environmental impact with their business systems and processes.
GREENING MY LIFE
I purchase used and refurbished equipment, from lenses, to camera bodies, flashes, phones, props, lighting gear, laptops, bags made from recycled army tarps, display stands and more. Rechargeable batteries are used for photography equipment, clocks, remotes, etc. Moreover, electronics and batteries are property recycled.
Within the home-based studio, we have LED and solar lighting inside and outside the home, as well as dimmers and sensors, use energy efficient appliances and unplug when not in use. Of course we recycle, reuse instead of replace, and compost. We’ve installed low-flow shower heads and toilets, use a programmable thermostat, and computers are put to sleep after several minutes of inactivity. We use non-toxic cleaning products, and reuse junk mail for double-sided printing/scratch paper.
On a personal front, I bring my glass water bottle with me everywhere and it even stays in the vehicle most days. I’ve switched to shampoo and conditioner products that not contained in plastic, and I use my dollars to vote by choosing products that promote a less wasteful society.
CLIENTS & ACCOLADES
My clients themselves are front runners in the environmental space and include: The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Initiative, The Recycling Association of MN and Anoka County.
As an Anoka County Recycling Champion and a Master Composter/Recycler, I volunteer at large community events to educate the public and assist with proper material sorting for recycling and composting products.
On the consumption side, I make purchasing decisions based on the amount of packaging involved and if the packaging is reusable, such as glass jars.
All of these decisions have lead me to these wonderful accomplishments:
- Obtaining a Certificate of Membership as a Gold Level Green Business Award from 2021 – 2023 (Find out more)
- Participating in Sustainability Inspired Art Exhibits in Chicago, Minneapolis, Hudson, New York City and Paris
- Being featured in an article on Project R-365 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Read entire article)
- Being nominated as Anoka County Recycling Champion (Short article)
Other FUn Things
As a bonus, when you work with me, not only are you guaranteed to have a fabulous time, be relaxed, and laugh, but you will be pampered. You will have full access to the entire line of my Eco-friendly products and services, be supporting a local economy and small business owner, and you will receive all of your goodies in a reusable cotton Sarah Grace Photography bag – the cherry on top of the sundae!
For more ideas on how to live a more Eco-conscious lifestyle, check out these links: