Comparing the environmental impact of analogue photography with digital is intrinsically complex. There are so many variables to take into account, and extremely difficult to compare since people use photography for various different purposes. Still I hope I at some point will have the time and money to take on a the project of fully calculating the environmental impact of both analogue and digital photography. So this is a call out to anyone that might have insights or ideas about this.
You hear it quite often, one of the biggest advantages with the digital photography is that is less harmful for the environment than its predecessor. And let´s face it: being an environmental researcher and a lomographer isn´t always easy. The fact that the pretty plastic in my beloved Diana might end up and partly create a big lump of marine plastic pollution is a hard one to imagine, and it has already kept me sleepless many nights.
At first glance it might seem that the transition to digital excludes many of the environmental harmful activities that we before associated with photography. The energy involved in manufacturing and shipping film and paper, and heating water for processing must leave a decent footprint per capita for any caring analogue photographer. The chemicals involved are charecterized by very high toxic levels. I close my eyes every time I am washing the bleach from the film. I can´t bear to watch the red stained water go down the drain. These chemicals are even while treated with full carefulness and when being disposed in the correct way polluting our environment. So one might think answering the question of which type is better for the environment is an easy task.
But when thinking this through over and over the whole project just gets bigger and bigger, and there are more variables to take into account. I have found a few attempts of doing a LCA on different types of cameras (and no its not LC-A, its an abbreviation for Life Cycle Analysis). Quite easily one can say that the full production line of manufacturing a digital camera is much worse than a simple toy camera. Batteries contain ingredients that are very harmful and these often end up somewhere in nature. It also takes loads of energy to use a camera with LCD screen. A digital camera is might run on “blood minerals”. For instance the mining of tungsten, gold, tin and tantalum keeps the war going in Eastern Congo.
So this is no easy task. So many variables to include. If you have any thoughts about this please contact me.
Until then: leave your car for rest for a day and use your bike, and then you can go lomo-ing for a day with a better conscious.
Meet Fiona. I love her just as much as Diana: