Happy Earth Day 2012!

Happy Earth Day 2012, everyone! In the spirit of the day, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few of the steps that I've taken to help diminish the impact that Suzanne Simmons Photography has on the environment.

I feel that the biggest change that I have made within my business is to limit the amount of paper products that I use and, when I do need to use them, I make the choice to use products made from recycled sources. The biggest reduction in my paper product reliance came when I began to use my "client portal" on my website. Through this portal, clients are able to sign contracts electronically, check account balances, obtain receipts for payments, and keep me up to date on their plans. Prior to implementing the portal, I would accomplish all of these tasks through traditional mail which not only meant that I had to use paper (and stamps), but also meant that it was less convenient for my clients since they would need to wait for the mail to reach them. Therefore, not only has the portal helped to reduce my paper use, it has also made the planning process that much smoother and stress free for my clients. It's a win/win!

Client Portal Login

Looking beyond my "client portal", I proudly extend my support for the environment to the packaging that I have chosen to use to send my clients their much anticipated photographs. I provide my clients with their photographs on a disc labeled with Lightscribe technology instead of the traditional printed disc. I made this decision for several reason. First off, Lightscribe technology enables me to "print" the image on to the disc without the use of traditional ink cartridges, which eventually wind up in the environment. Instead, I use a special drive in my computer to burn the image in to the front of the disc before flipping the disc over and using the same burner to write the data to the disc.

Once the discs are ready to go, I then package them using very eco-friendly products. Back in the day, I would mail the discs to my clients in thin, plastic cases but they were prone to breaking while in the mail and they aren't recyclable. Bummer! Enter the ReSleeve from the fine folks at ReBinder, which "is made from 100% Recycled, FSCā„¢* Certified Chipboard (85% Post-Consumer Recycled / 15% Post-Industrial Recycled)". The cases also won't break and are completely recyclable. The finishing touch for the cases is the band of chocolate brown Sinamay natural organza mesh ribbon from Nashville Wraps, which is hand made from 100% natural fibers. What is even cooler? The ribbon is made by fair trade artisans in remote villages around the world through an amazing foundation called Distant Village Packaging. So, not only is it eco-friendly, the ribbon is also helping to employ people with good paying jobs. YAY!

And, finally, the discs are mailed to my clients in plastic-free, cushioned mailers from CareMail which are made with 95% recycled content and 55% post-consumer waste. Sure, it isn't glamorous, but I know where the packaging is going to eventually be going and I like knowing that it is recyclable and will break down in the environment much faster than most other options out there.

Last, but certainly not least, the business cards that I use are made with ecofriendly, 100% recycled, Green Paper through the amazing company, Moo. To say that I love Moo would be such an understatement! If you haven't tried their printed goodies before, I highly recommend that you check them out. I love the feel of my green paper business cards and feel even better when handing them out knowing that only recycled content was used to make them. Sweet!

There are a plethora of other things that we do in my house, which is where my office is located, to make our impact on the environment as small as we can. We compost, recycle more than we throw out, ensure that "vampire electronics" are unplugged, use CFL or LED light bulbs in almost every light fixture, and donate our unwanted goods to Goodwill whenever possible (instead of simply throwing them out). Although I drive a larger vehicle, I *gasp* drive without air conditioning as much as humanly possible because I know it improves my gas mileage A LOT when I do so. And, with the baby on the way, we are also going to be using cloth diapers to help minimize the amount of waste our little bundle of joy creates.

I am sure that I am overlooking a lot that we do on a daily basis, but hopefully this post gives you some insight in to what I do to make my business more eco-friendly and also some ideas for what you can do to minimize your own impact on the environment.

What do you do in your own house to help reduce your impact?