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: Who are you?
Graham Hill: My name is Graham Hill. Founder of TreeHugger and VP Interactive of Planet Green.
Question: Where are you from and how has that shaped you?
Graham Hill: I’m from Canada. I’m from about an hour near Montreal, in the woods. And I think it’s very much shaped sort of where I ended up. So my parents were hippies. And really the community around there, and my parents friends, were largely people giving back to the land. And so I lived in a log house and learned a lot about conservation and nature from my childhood.
Question: Who was your greatest influence when you were young?
Graham Hill: My parents certainly did. Can’t help it. And they’re very green in their own way. My mother’s a vegetarian; has been for many, many years. And I certainly remember many lessons of conservation from my father.
In a more general sense, my stepfather was very inspirational in that he just helped me believe in myself and just believe that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and that I was a special person. And so he was very influential. And then certainly some great teachers along the way in my childhood.
Later on it was more books. I guess I used to read fiction back then, so it was sort of different. I don’t even know if I can remember. I certainly was very much a bookworm. I loved reading. I don’t think they inspired me in the same way. I mean maybe it was part creativity. Later on it was more books like Gandhi. I found very inspiring; his biography or autobiography.
And certainly books regarding green or regarding evolution like “Beak of the Finch” by Jonathan Weiner, “Natural Capitalism” by the Lovins’ and Paul Hawken. Both inspirational books.
Question: When did you start thinking about the environment?
Graham Hill: Well it was always part of me; from my parents, certainly. So I think I was always somewhat conscious of it.
I was vegetarian for quite a long time. I certainly lived with less; sometimes due to finances.
I think really it was later on, though. It was sort of my mid-twenties to late twenties, I started thinking about it, and reading about it, and getting more concerned about how I lived, and what impact I might have with the businesses I might create.
Question: What did you think you would be doing professionally when you were growing up?
Graham Hill: I literally always thought I would be an inventor. And I think that’s what I became. I’m a creator. I like to build things, and I think that basically is what an inventor is. I do some products. I do some media, you know. I do various things. But really, ultimately, I’m an inventor.
Recorded on: Oct 16, 2007