Few people realize it but digital cameras are like a blessing in disguise for the environment. This is because as more and more people move away from conventional cameras they are unwittingly reducing the use of chemicals that were earlier being used to process the film. These chemicals, especially the developer and fixer solutions, were serious environment hazards.
That is why the US laws required that the spent chemicals should be made inert before they were disposed off in landfills. But more often than not, most film processing centers released the chemicals into the drain because of high expenditure involved in treating them before discharge. This was especially true of the smaller and locally owned companies not only in the US but across the world. Most photographers themselves have been guilty of this misconduct.
They are not the only ones who broke the law with abandon. The cruise ships in the international waters were even bigger culprits. As a routine, these ships first developed pictures shot by passengers and then dumped the film-processing chemicals into the open ocean. No one cared, since no restrictive laws apply to international waters. This is the reason why our oceans and green reefs are dying at a rate faster than the rain forests.
They can now thank the makers of digital cameras for saving them from some of the chemicals that earlier poured on them from ships. The same can be said of ponds and rivers that used to be polluted with chemicals flowing out of film processing labs, and which incidentally still flow out of such labs in the third world.
There are some green campaigners who point fingers at inkjet printers -- used to take prints -- and rechargeable batteries used in digital cameras. However, they must realize that very few people take prints of the photographs. Most transfer the images into computers electronically. Also, used cartridges are either recycled or dumped in landfills. Very rarely they find their way in water bodies.
Similarly, the scale of impact is very low when it comes to rechargeable batteries. This is because most of the batteries are rechargeable and no consumer disposes them till they are full exhausted. This means that an alkaline battery may continue to be used for weeks. Also, being a solid waste it is more likely to end up in landfills than in water bodies.
So, if you are a nature lover dump your conventional camera and get a digital camera.