In digital photographer magazine, we often encourage our readers to print more of their images, advocating the benefits (and fun) of seeing our photographs in physical form.
In the modern world, however, we also need to be aware of the impact our behavior has on the environment – and printing is a big focal point of potentially hostile processes in this area. If you only print a few images per month, your footprint is arguably minor compared to large professional studios, which produce thousands of prints in the same period, but we can all do our part to avoid negative consequences. unnecessary.
It is critically important to find the balance between being environmentally responsible and remaining profitable, as a business. It is more than possible to effectively align these agendas, so there is no need to worry about having a significant impact on your working practices. Here, we explore some ways to seamlessly integrate methods of offsetting our environmental impacts into our daily workflow.
1) Use eco-friendly papers
The type of photo paper you choose can indirectly affect the durability of your printing process. How the papers are produced will vary the environmental impact considerably, with cotton rag papers claiming to be the most environmentally friendly. Although cotton growing methods can vary in their durability, 100% cotton rag is significantly better than resin, polyester or vinyl based papers, which use many chemicals such as chlorine that can end up in water sources. Information about the paper can increasingly be found on manufacturers’ websites.
2) Reduce waste
Anything you can do to minimize paper and ink waste will be better for the environment – and of course your wallet, which is a nice incentive! Following standard technical steps, such as calibrating monitor colors and installing paper profiles, will help reduce the need for multiple reprints and throw away valuable sheets of paper.
3) Use recyclable materials
Choose papers that come from recycled materials or that can themselves be easily recycled. There will almost always be failed prints that will need to be disposed of, but plastic-based papers can – with a good degree of certainty – not be recycled. These rejects will therefore most likely be sent to landfill. Fiber-based papers from certified sources can be recycled, as they are made from natural materials.
4) Recycle cartridges
One simple step we can all take is to recycle ink cartridges when they are used up, instead of throwing them in the household trash. If we place the empty cartridges in a specialized bank, they can often be refilled and reused several times, thus minimizing the volume of plastic in the environment.
5) Use ink flow systems
Using an ink-flow printing system can save you money, while reducing the number of empty ink cartridges that need to be recycled. The large capacity of the external bottles means you don’t continually replace fixed-volume cartridges, which will reduce the environmental footprint per milliliter of ink.
6) The printing lab advantage
Sending your image files to print labs, instead of printing them at home, can be a greener option. Labs have huge throughput, which means they can afford to use materials and machinery that are better for the environment, like laser-centric, inkless printing. There is also much less waste, as the tools are in continuous use. Research the materials used by specific labs to ensure they have an environmentally conscious culture and enjoy a sustainable printing process benefiting from the economy of scale that labs are subject to.
With a little research, it’s possible to streamline your entire photography process for less environmental impact. Outsourcing activities such as printing to companies that will benefit from monitoring their efficiency and sustainability, while adhering to your own internal procedures, will support this improvement.
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