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Sarah Backhouse: tv host, producer, speaker and sustainability expert

By Risa Schonbaum on 24 July 2012

Sarah Backhouse is founder and host of Future360, an online digital media platform that creates video content around clean technology. Her mission is to educate and inspire people with innovating stories about entrepreneurs and change makers who are transforming tomorrow’s ideas into today’s reality. As tv host, producer and sustainability expert, Sarah is a sought after emcee, keynote speaker and interviewer who has presented to audiences of 10,000, spoken at Ivy League schools and participated in sustainability conferences worldwide, interviewing heads of state, as well as thought leaders in government, business, non-profit and academia. Sarah has lived in Sydney, London and Los Angeles, where she has worked for a diverse group of broadcasters including CNBC, BBC, PBS, Fine Living, Sci Fi Channel, Discovery Channel and Planet Green. She was born in the UK and raised in Australia and Japan. Sarah graduated with Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Japanese Studies from the Australian National University and Keio University, Tokyo.

Since 2007, Sarah has focused her attention solely on sustainability coverage. She currently anchors The Planet 100, a daily online news show for Discovery’s Planet Green. She also hosts and writes for other green media networks including Mother Nature Network, Huffington Post, Causecast, G Living and Worth Magazine’s Philanthropy section. Sarah was honored as one of Asia Pacific’s Leading 50 Women at the 2011 Advance Women’s Leadership Summit, and was a host on Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality. Additionally, Sarah emceed the Women in Green Forum and has covered sustainability conferences worldwide. She is a member of the entertainment and media committee of the UN affiliated Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization (IREO).

Sarah believes green is more than a fringe movement or a fad, that it is simply the future. Through various forms of media, Sarah strives to entertain and provoke, inform and inspire, to do what it takes to get people thinking about and acting upon the most fundamental of issues that affect us all.

We recently reached out to Sarah and turned the table around making this top interviewer an interviewee.

What inspired you to become so focused on environmental media and sustainability?

I had been working for many years in broadcast television in Sydney, London and Los Angeles—hosting a Japanese anime show for SciFi, travel shows for The Fine Living Network and entertainment reports for the BBC —among other things.
In 2006, I gave birth to my son, Milo.  It was the year Al Gore also gave birth to his baby, An Inconvenient Truth.  These two monumental events coincided with my yearning to apply my storytelling skills to something more meaningful.

Future360 explores how we live, work, commute and power a more sustainable future with the mission to educate and inspire people by its cutting edge cleantech stories. How did you realize there was a need for such a vital platform as Future360? How have you seen it change and grow since you first launched?

Future360 was born from my belief that clean technology solves many of global environmental and economic challenges that we face. While (incredibly) there’s still debate on whether climate change is happening and is man-made, cleantech is delivering game-changing solutions to these problems and I wanted to tell this story. While there’s a lot of excellent print-based coverage of the subject, I felt there was a need for next gen storytelling in the form of video, so stakeholders and the public could see these technologies in action, and meet the innovators behind them.  While we’ve been producing content for just under a year, our official launch was in April 2012. It’s just the beginning….

With the rapidly depleting resources of our world today, are you optimistic for change to occur? Playing such a key role in bringing light to the topic of cleantech and sustainability, have you seen a shift in awareness in people and businesses you have encountered over the years?

I am optimistic for change.  I feel that the word “green” as a moniker is going away, which I view as a good thing.  Prius’ and canvas shopping bags aren’t novelties like they were a few years ago. I can’t wait til the day “green jobs” are just “jobs”, “green cars” are just “cars”, and “clean technology” is just “technology”.  There’s such a big opportunity for business in the sustainable revolution that’s taking place. For example, it’s exciting to see all innovative new business models emerging around resource sharing like ZipCar, Airbnb and SolarMosaic.

How would you guide any business to start making changes in their operations toward more sustainable methods? What recommendations or suggestions would you have for a business?

Any business—from a cafe to a car service—can choose to be sustainable. There’s so many opportunities to differentiate yourself and save money in the process.  From simple things like using recycled copy paper to coming up truly innovative business model like Honest Buildings, the sky’s the limit for innovation.  Education is key too.  Great resources like Greenbiz.com are out there.

As a leading face and voice of environmental media, you have built an impressive list of interviews. What has been your most challenging and inspiring interview and why? How do you approach and prepare for a new interview or project?

One of the most inspiring interview has to be Vice President Al Gore and some world renowned climate scientists for the “24 Hours of Reality Project”. Felt like I came full circle. Most challenging would be physicist Michio Kaku as it was all about string theory.  As for preparation, it’s all about research.  Google is an amazing tool.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with our readers?

So there’s so much opportunity in the sustainable economy for everyone to lead healthier, happier, more prosperous lives.

Read more about Sarah and Clean Technology on www.sarahbackhouse.com and www.future360.tv