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The Green Life: Closeup: How Green Is Your Camera?

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March 03, 2014

Closeup: How Green Is Your Camera?

Cameras and AccesoriesLate last year, POV released the findings from its equipment survey of documentary filmmakers. Of the primary cameras and lenses used, Canon, Sony, and Panasonic dominated the survey. The minor players -- accounting for just 9% -- were Nikon, Red, Apple, and BlackMagic. One of the survey's missing components is information on the sustainability of these manufacturers. A basic kit is a big investment, so why not be aware of whether your money is going to an environmentally friendly company?

Climate Counts and the Center for Sustainable Organizations recently released a carbon-score-based study of 100 corporations. Among them, only 49 were deemed sustainable by the study, which in addition to emissions also considered factors beyond the environment, including social and economic impacts and GDP contribution

Canon comes in at number 4 on the list, high in the sustainability category. This isn't much of a surprise once you look over the company's extensive "Environmental Vision," which covers the materials it uses, the products it develops, its manufacturing processes, and its energy and resource use. Canon is working on a worldwide recycling program and trying to implement inverse manufacturing in the development of future products.

Sony is ranked an unsustainable 62. While the company has a big vision to achieve a zero environmental footprint by 2050, its closer benchmark in 2015 includes these reductions: CO2 emissions from Sony sites by 30%, energy consumption per product by 30%, and CO2 emissions in distribution by 14%. Sony has a pretty holistic sustainability plan available on its website that includes conservation, emissions reductions, and higher chemical standards.

Panasonic trails among the big three with an unsustainable ranking of 75. Perhaps this low grade won't last for too much longer, as the company has launched Green Plan 2018, a massive overhaul that aims to make it "the No. 1 green innovation company in the electronics industry by 2018." Some key points of this plan include CO2 reduction, a 99.5% recycling ratio, and an environmental education program. The environmental portion of its website touts that its sustainability concerns started with its founder, so it will be interesting to see what improvements Panasonic makes.

Though only one of the three top camera companies from the POV study makes the sustainable grade, these companies have clearly taken their customers' environmental concerns to heart and decided to act on them. They all have extensive plans that look at sustainability as more than simply achieving zero waste or CO2 reductions. Time will tell if these manufacturers uphold their goals, but meanwhile it's a good thing to keep in mind when shelling out major bucks for your next video or photography project.


-- image courtesy of iStock/perkmeup

Bianca Hernandez is an editorial intern at Sierra. She recently received her MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California and has written for various publications.


Read more:

What to Do with Old Cameras

Green your Photography: Better Batteries

Green Your Photography: Go Digital

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