Many of us are becoming more our environmental impact, and rightly so. As the population grows, it is that we cannot sustain the same level of waste we have been producing, or carry on polluting at the same rate we have been. There are many areas within our photography where we can make more sustainable and green choices, and that includes printing.
There are three main eco-friendly printing areas to consider: the printer (or using an external printing company) what ink to use and how it is supplied and paper choice.
Producing a print, however much you take into account its environmental impact, is still going to use. This doesn’t mean every image should remain on the screen however as there are few things as pleasing as a photographic print – it’s simply a case of giving careful consideration to exactly which images you want to see in print form.
Eco-friendly photographic paper
There are many green, sustainable companies that produce 100% recycled paper products. However, when it comes to sourcing specialised photographic papers, it can be harder to find the eco-friendly ones, and there are a number of factors to be aware of. For instance, resin-coated types account for many of the photographic papers in circulation today, and most are produced using a thin coating of plastic. These papers therefore use more in the manufacturing process and cannot be recycled. papers that do not have a plastic coating are better from an environmental perspective, and can be recycled.
It’s also important to look for the FSC-certified logo to check papers have been sourced responsibly, and if you can find ones that have been produced through a 100% or partly recycled process, then all the better. For a comprehensive guide to making the best green choices when it comes to photo paper, His recommendation is to source a 100% cotton rag paper.
Eco-friendly printing inks
When it comes to inks, some are greener and more sustainable than others. Currently, two eco-friendly products stand out: soy-based inks, which are made from soybean, and vegetable-based inks that are made from linseed oils. If you want to have a greener footprint, then it is best to avoid heavily based inks, as they contain higher amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are compounds that can be harmful to both the environment and people.
Eco-friendly home printing
If you plan to get serious about home printing, then consider a printer with an individual ink cartridge system. This means you need only replace the ink used, as opposed to the whole bulk. This is a must, not only from a green perspective but also a cost one. It’s also worth researching consumption, and how thirsty your printer is on the inks. You’ll need to look into ink ingredients, too, as ideally to get the best quality prints it’s advisable to stick to the printer manufacturer’s own inks.
When it comes to going green in any aspect of our lives, it is best to make small changes where we can. After all, it is far better for lots of photographers to make one or two changes than for just one to be printing in a perfectly green way. So if you can’t compromise on inks, then opt to avoid a non-recyclable resin-coated paper – or vice versa. If we all start to make small changes, we cannot fail to make an impact on a mass scale, and that has to be worth striving for.