Hill is the founder of TreeHugger, an online hub for news and information related to environmental sustainability.Hailed as a "green CNN," TreeHugger hosts a constantly updated blog, newsletters, video and radio segments and a user-generated Graham site, Hugg. In the three years since its inception, TreeHugger has become one of the most high-profile and highly-trafficked sites on the internet.
Recently, Hill his been hard at work developing Planet Green with Discovery Communications. Hill has also worked in a variety of industries prior to starting TreeHugger, including fashion, web-development, and plant-based air filters. He is also a designer, and his New York souvenir coffee mug is sold in over 150 stores. Hill was educated at Carleton University in Ottawa and Emily Carr Institute of ArtDesign in Vancouver.
Question: When you read the newspaper or watch the news, what are the big issues that stand out to you?
Graham Hill: As with most things, the answers are there. The technologies, the solutions, a way to live a better, balanced life and get along on a global basis – I think it’s all there. It just takes the personal and the political will to make it happen.
So specifically green, it’s there. There are amazing technologies and approaches that are here now. And we can really pull ourselves out of this rather quickly if we just get the personal and political will to focus on them.
Question: Can environmentalism be more integrated into our system?
Graham Hill: Absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s not recognized. We haven’t valued it monetarily or otherwise, frankly. So I think it absolutely can be better integrated.
We just didn’t know that it mattered. Like that’s the thing. We just didn’t know that it mattered. For the last 30 or 40 years, we figured out that it does matter. And so now we’re readjusting, and we just need to push hard to adjust quickly.
Question: Whose responsibility is the environment?
Graham Hill: I think all three of those legs of the stool, business, consumer and government; are lagging. There’s no question. This is the issue of our times.
Thousands of scientists are saying we have ten years to make major advances in this. And so all of those three groups need to push really hard forward, and I think the government’s one. Consumers and businesses probably move quicker than government in general.
It’s a long process, and part of that’s a good thing because there is a process and we try to get to a right solution. All of us need to do more, and the government can absolutely do more. They can absolutely have a big impact. On a simple level, I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on policy, but basically; the good and the bad. It’s that simple.
I believe in market economics, but I don’t believe that the market just figures it out all by itself. I think that you need to set some base rules. And I think that’s the government’s job. And so hopefully they can move quicker and quicker; the good and the bad. And that should help, and business can just follow along. And they’ll work within the rules, and consumers will do their part.
Question: What is the media's role?
Graham Hill: They could talk about that in the first place. It’s probably important to help. Articles can remind people of the reality; what the actual stats are. I think that’s important. And they can be supportive in focusing on that last mile; focusing on doing and taking actions. I think media can be very helpful in that.
And if they do it in sort of a fun, non-preachy; it’s an exciting world! Like this is a cool thing. We’re sort of figuring out, “Oh yeah! Maybe we can live in a bountiful, productive way that we haven’t before; that we can be a lot more healthy, and we can live in a much more balanced way.”
I think they can start help send that message.
Question: Is it fair to ask developing countries to go green?
Graham Hill: Well it’s a very difficult question. It’s very understandable that they could say, “What are you doing telling us what to do? Look what you’ve done. You’ve had your time in the sun. We want ours.”
It’s very understandable, but it’s also very important. So I don’t know.
I think that whether it’s Gandhi or Michael Jackson saying, “Start with the man in the mirror,” I think it’s really important that we do our thing and lead by example.
I think that the U.S. is a very powerful country, and one that can change, and one that can lead. And I’d really like to see us lead. And I think we’re starting. And hopefully that will help developing countries see there’s another way of doing things. And hopefully they can leapfrog and not go through all that. It’s a very challenging thing.
It’s a very understandable thing that these other countries want to achieve a lifestyle that we’ve been living. And so who are we to really say?
I think we have to influence as much as we can, and also lead by example. We have to practice what we preach.
Recorded on: July 28, 2008