Callaway - xray 3xHow do you generate ridiculous amounts of enthusiasm about waste diversion? Here’s one overlooked answer: photography.

I’m not talking about stock photography. I mean conceptual, bold, textural, thought-provoking photography with an educational slant. This is the focus of my conceptual photography and graphic design studio, Recycled Beauty. It aims to help eco-conscious companies tell their “green” stories in a way that will captivate and motivate consumers.

Showing migration of materials

By carefully and methodically mixing textures, color and a variety of waste materials, Recycled Beauty photos glamorize diversion efforts the way a traditional ad agency might beautify a new product. By doing so, Recycled Beauty visually connects the dots of the circular economy on the consumer level, making the migration of materials – from used product to municipality all the way to repurposed new product – understandable and, dare I say, fun.

For example, Recycled Beauty has crafted strong visual campaigns for municipalities such as the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority (HRRA) in Connecticut.

HRRA is a regional, governmental, waste management and recycling authority serving 11 municipalities in western Connecticut and a population of over 225,000 people. HRRA stepped away from stock photography and licensed Recycled Beauty photos to differentiate itself and boost community interest, engagement and participation in proper recycling.

Recycled Beauty’s approach was to focus directly on the essential characteristics of recyclable materials, which helps show the divide between compostable material, recyclable material and trash. This direct visual element also clearly conveys which materials are included in a program and which are not.

In addition to being educational, the Recycled Beauty approach is generating enthusiasm for effectively diverting waste, making a drastic impact on the consumer level and reducing contamination for municipalities.

Powering a battery diversion story

Recycled Beauty is also helping eco-conscious companies turn their sustainable activities into marketable opportunities.

Raw Materials Company Inc. (RMC), a Canadian battery recycling company, selected Recycled Beauty’s conceptual photography to highlight how the company separates all the components of an alkaline battery to be properly recycled. The photos depict batteries in a city, illustrating that many parts of our lives run on the products.

To tell the full story, we created a “before” image that shows batteries lined up to convey the notion of an urban landscape. The “after” photo focuses on the reusable materials from battery recycling – black paste, which is sold as a fertilizer, and scrap metal. The idea is to demystify the process and visually explaining it in a way consumers can relate to.

Recycled Beauty is able to offer a deeper understanding of the realities of a circular economy and also grab the attention of residents who may be used to traditional stock photography.

Ellen Callaway believes that placing the environment at the forefront of a photography-driven marketing campaign is a way to minimize our impact on the environment while maintaining a strong economy. Recycled Beauty offers a la carte services – from full conceptual photography to graphic design – to help eco-conscious companies effectively communicate their green stories. For more information on Callaway Photo and Recycled Beauty, visit or see us at booth 114 at the 2016 Resource Recycling Conference in New Orleans.

Dens A Can

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Resource Recycling, Inc. If you have a subject you wish to cover in a future Op-Ed, please send a short proposal to [email protected] for consideration.