It’s Kinda Easy Bein’ Green

This is an expanded article from the Frequently Unasked Questions page.  If you click on the link, you can read more frequently unasked questions.  We’ll be expanding more of the questions on the FUQs and FAQs page over time.

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Opie, you haven’t finished your milk.  We can’t put it back in the cow, you know.  ~Aunt Bee Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show

Earth Stewardship For People With Commitment Issues

Lately, everybody’s arguing about the environment.  Don’t drill there.  Smog alert this.  Global warming that.  It kinda makes you feel overwhelmed.  But not long ago, we had a bit of an epiphany (a ginormous moment of smartness) at our house.  Being environmentally responsible isn’t a big commitment. It’s just a whole lotta really little commitments. And we do mean little.  Here are a few we’ve made in our business and in our home.

Act Locally, You Know, Like, At Your House

Everything we do starts right here on the website, so our environmental commitment starts here too.  This wedding and portrait photography website (everything you’re staring at now) is hosted by a company whose data centers, web servers, and offices are entirely wind-powered.

We use Canon photographic equipment to make the photos you see.  Canon has made a worldwide commitment to improving the environment by using earth-friendly manufacturing processes and creating products that are recyclable whenever possible.

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The Power Of One

We’ve recently invested in high quality rechargeable batteries. That may not seem like a very big deal, until you consider that at a typical wedding, I will often exhaust 20 or more AA batteries. If we do only 25 weddings in a year, that’s 500 batteries. And that’s just weddings. So, we switched. Each Eneloop rechargeable battery can be recharged 1500 times. That’s a huge hunk of landfill that we’re not making. Plus, it’s cheaper. Lots cheaper. And saving greenbacks is kinda green too. Less printing for the Fed.. ha ha.

In the office, we made several other small green decisions. I use an iMac to edit everything.   iMacs are designed with the environment in mind. They have arsenic-free display glass, are free from brominated flame retardants, have mercury-free LED backlit displays, and are PVC free. They also meet ENERGY STAR v5.0 requirements, and achieved a Gold rating from EPEAT2. So, if I’m honest here, the only thing I understood in all that is ENERGY STAR, which means: Yay! Less electricity. But I bet the other stuff is good too. (Arsenic is bad, right?)

All our hard-drives (and that is saying a lot… we currently have 20+ external drives) are Western Digital Caviar Green. These drives use less power and have lower operating temperatures, which means less climate management in the office… yay to less A/C!  All the electronic gadgets running in here can really heat it up.  And here in Georgia, the biggest power consumer is the air conditioner, hands down. Summer lasts like, 30 months or something.

In fact, all year round we isolate the studio from the rest of the building (ahem, keep the door closed), maintaining the temperature for the electronics in only the one room, instead of the whole house. This helps us control our energy consumption.

Little Steps, Grasshopper

How many jugglers does it take to change a light bulb?  One, but it takes three bulbs.

How many dull people does it take to change a light bulb? One.

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We switched to all CFL & LED bulbs. I know you’re sick of hearing about them, but if you break it down, they’re good for everyone because:

  1. They use less energy = good for the planet + good for your wallet
  2. They last longer = good for the planet + good for your wallet
  3. They generate less heat =  less A/C = good for the planet + good for your wallet.

What’s not to like? Now they even come in different light temperatures, so no more icky green skin.

More Little Green Choices

We participate in our local recycling program. Every week we have three parts recycling for every one part trash that we throw away. That’s really sweet.

We conduct most of our business electronically, so almost no paper is generated.

We use a water filter and drink it from a reusable water bottle instead of bottled water. (Well, I do. Jessica should drink more water.)

We switched from paper napkins to cloth, and from paper towels to terry towels.

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Keep It Going

There’s also our car. While we could debate a bit about whether or not driving a Jeep Cherokee can be considered earth-friendly, I’d argue that keeping and maintaining a car for 19 years (so far) and driving over 385,000 miles in one vehicle is about as earth-friendly as it gets. In the same amount of time that many folks have purchased, driven, and traded 3 or 4 new cars, we’ve made a commitment to keeping one car in excellent condition and driving it until the wheels fall off. Doesn’t look like that’s going to be anytime soon, either.  Think we can get a million?  And by the way, my other ride is a Triumph Bonneville that gets 50mpg.

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Environmental Chic

This one is really tough on us, but since there are just the two of us, we can work in our pajamas.  This grave sacrifice is made in order to reduce laundry, which in turn reduces our water and energy consumption. It’s for the environment! Really!

And finally, we use the library. A lot.  ‘Nuff said.

Spreading the Love

One last thing. In parallel to our commitment to the environment is our commitment to our global community. We volunteer our time locally and we pledge a percentage of our session or event fees to organizations such as or Heifer International, because we believe that saving our planet is equal parts protecting the trees and protecting the people.

P.S.  How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to hold the giraffe, and one to put the clocks in the bathtub.

Amanda Summerlin

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