I’m a wedding photographer who has always been passionate about the environment. Even back when I was a student in school, I attended several environmental and sustainability conferences in Canberra. I’m constantly looking for ways to take my business further in terms of sustainability, and have spent a lot of time thinking about the enormous amount of carbon emissions the wedding industry creates. After learning how much pollution is created by weddings, I decided to take on the challenge of making my business completely carbon neutral!
1. My personal values
A few years ago I sat down with my business coach to set out what my mission, vision and values were for my life and business. One idea that kept popping up was that I wanted to “have a positive impact”.
I’m holding myself to a high standard as an entrepreneur. I want my business choices to have long-lasting, positive effects on my community and planet. I have an innate desire to leave this place better than I found it. Thus, the questions of semantics arise: “What exactly does ‘impact’ mean?” “How does one quantify their impact?” “Can we define ‘positive’?” and so on.
Here is the conclusion I have come to: Climate justice is one of the clearest, most accessible ways for someone in Australia to have a positive impact on their world. By choosing to eat a plant-based diet, I have already significantly reduced my daily carbon footprint. By making my business carbon-neutral, I can rest assured that my passion for photographing weddings is not negatively impacting the planet.
2. Conscious capitalism in the wedding industry
To be 100% transparent, I believe being carbon-neutral is good for business. I am hoping this decision will help brides and grooms find me in an oversaturated market. Love it or hate it, we live in a capitalist society, where consumers have choice and agency. After 8+ years in business, here are two things I know:
- The wedding photography market is very very saturated and;
- Couples are increasingly looking for more sustainable choices for their weddings.
‘Conscious capitalism’ is a phrase that was coined by John Mackey (Founder of Whole Foods in the US) and Professor Raj Sisodia. It refers to the idea of “socially responsible economics”. If this is something that you’re interested in, I also highly recommend reading Donut Economics by Kate Rawworth.
As a business owner, I also believe the onus is on me to provide sustainable and ethical business services to my clients, which in turn has a positive social impact on my community and planet. In doing so, the feedback loop means my business will benefit from it as more and more couples identify themselves with the values I have set out for the service I’m providing.
3. It’s easy to do
I’m writing this in the year of our lord 2021 when it’s easier than ever to take your business/home/car carbon-neutral. The process is called “offsetting”, whereby a delegated organisation invests in “green” projects around the world that compensate for your carbon emissions. Projects like planting trees, seaweed farming and wind farming can easily be accessed through dedicated offset organisations.
The first thing I did was get a Carbon Report from Offsert, which is an organisation that my friend Nathan Pereira started. In determining my business carbon footprint, I was asked to complete a form that identified all of my energy and polluting habits. People much smarter than me then calculated how much my CO2-equivalent emissions were.
The second thing I did was jump online to carbonneutral.com.au and purchase my carbon credits, per the tonne. My Carbon Report from Offsert approximated a realistic figure of 7.1 CO2 tonnes per year. I got to choose which projects I wanted to support, and create a custom carbon package for my business. You can see my offset certificates here and here.
Here’s the crazy part in all of this! It’s incredibly affordable! For less than one hundred dollars a year, I can rest assured that my entire carbon footprint has been accounted for.
If you want some more information about taking your business or your wedding carbon-neutral, please get in touch. I’d love to have a chat!