Picture a Greener Print

By Trystan L. Bass

Once the holidays are over and the decorations are packed away, all that's left are the memories ... and the photos. In fact, if you're like most of us, you probably have a year's worth of digital photos on your computer with oh-so-helpful names like PICT0027.jpg and IMG_3108.jpg.

The dark days of winter are a good time to stay inside and organize those photos into albums so you can share them with family and friends. And you can do it in fun, creative, earth-friendly fashion too.

Keeping digital pictures digital is green because you use almost no additional resources. Plus, many online photo albums are free of charge, depending on how many files you upload. Most sites have privacy options so you can choose who sees your photos. Some also provide printing for a fee.

Yahoo! offers Flickr, and you can find various other services out there too.

But even though we love the Internet here, at some point, you really want to put a photo in a frame on your desk. Or you want to carry a picture in your wallet or print photos out for family members or maybe you're a scrapbooker. Here are some low-impact tips for printing photos.

First, look for recycled-content paper. The Green Guide has an excellent discussion on what to look for in sustainable papers, because the labels can be a little misleading.

One brand to try is GreenPix. This paper claims to be the only 100% post-consumer recycled content photo inkjet paper. It's also process chlorine free (less nasty chemicals in the making), and the paper is archival quality so your photos will last a good, long time.

Now, you may be used to buying packs of photo paper to print photos. In my experience, you don't always need that heavy, glossy stuff for pictures. It depends on what you're using the photo for.

In scrapbooks and other craft projects, glossy photo paper can be difficult to work with, and I prefer a matte, mid-weight paper. If you're putting the photo in a frame, the glossy paper will often look best.

Before you print, make sure to measure your picture frames, craft projects, wallet sleeve, etc., so you're printing the right size and don't have to cut away paper later.

Also, make sure to get the most out of each sheet of paper. In whatever software you're using, try to fit as many photos as possible on each page. All you need is a very slim margin of white space (if any) around each photo's edge. Set the page margins to the smallest possible for your printer too.

If you're not already using recycled cartridges in your ink-jet printer, consider trying this as well for the benefits to the planet and your wallet.

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