When Christopher Mohs started renovating his Twin Cities home, he knew how to do it sustainably. And if he had questions, he had a team of expert TV hosts willing to answer them.
The Minneapolis resident is the co-founder of Smart Healthy Green Living, a home, garden and lifestyle streaming service on sustainable living. Homes across the country, including those in the Twin Cities, spotlight how green living enthusiasts are creating eco-friendly spaces.
Topics range from sustainable design to organic gardening and smart homes to tiny houses. In a feature called Sustainable Home Tours, three of 14 homes spotlighted in this first season are in Minnesota.
In one episode, a Minneapolis couple talk about their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified home with features such as a green roof and solar panels. Two Twin Cities families meeting Passive Home high energy efficiency standards also take center stage — one in Minneapolis and another in Afton — in separate episodes. h
With Earth Day just around the corner, we checked in with Mohs to learn about his sustainable living education platform. A firm believer that a sustainable lifestyle can start in one's own backyard, the green living expert also offers tips on going green. For more information on Smart Healthy Green Living, visit bit.ly/SHGLiving.
Q: What led to your interest in sustainability?
A: I've always had a fascination and appreciation of nature. I remember setting up recycling sorting bins with my dad. This was back when you had to transport your recycling yourself, filling up the trunk with everything and driving to the center.
In 2015, I began collaborating with Sabine H. Schoenberg on the production of "Sabine's New House," which showcased the sustainable construction of a home in Greenwich, Conn., which was featured on her YouTube Channel and now on Smart Healthy Green Living. The entire process had me convinced that this was the wave of the future and something more people should know about.
Q: You and your co-founder debuted your sustainable living streaming service during the pandemic. How did that help or hurt your launch?
A: We launched in early April (2020), around the time that all of us were experiencing the lockdown. DIY was huge. We were all working from home. We needed to retrofit home offices.
That summer had that big building boom, but there were shortages of supplies. I think consumers were looking for ways they could tackle some of these needs on their own, and Smart Healthy Green Living had a lot of those projects and those answers within the content library that we had at launch. That all just culminated in a scenario that linked to a successful and robust launch.
Q: You describe your service as "approachable sustainability." What do you mean by that?
A: Really simplifying it down. I think a lot of people shy away from the sustainability concept in their homes and their gardens because it's overwhelming.
When we talk about approachable sustainability, it's not just doing it all. But as is the namesake of one of the campaigns that we have out there — "The Do-One-Thing" campaign— that's a challenge to our audience to find one thing in their everyday life that they can do to be more sustainable. It's the simple things that can really add up and make a difference.
Q: And how does your service compare to what people might see on HGTV?
A: Smart Healthy Green Living really focuses on educating and informing as well as entertaining the consumer. So we don't see ourselves purely as entertainment.
We want the consumer to walk away from our shows not just seeing amazing designs and amazing gardens, but also to feel empowered to tackle DIY projects, gardening ... and also know the language and know the innovations that are out there when dealing with larger-scale projects or home renovations.
Although we definitely like to know, like to say, that our content is entertaining and our hosts of the shows are very dynamic and wonderful.
Q: Who's your audience?
A: By no surprise, we touch a lot of "Xennials" — the generation between Gen X and millennials — and millennials, but the great thing is that we are seeing fairly even distribution across Gen Xers and baby boomers, as well. Really, in today's world, we're very much aware of how our lifestyle choices impact our health, the environment. It all comes together, and I think our growth and our audience demographics that we're seeing is really akin to that overall trend and the growth and awareness in those smart healthy and green areas of our life.
Q: Why should people give your service a look?
A: It is free, so there's really no risk involved other than downloading it on your Roku, your Apple TV, your Amazon Fire TV Stick or even your phone or tablet. It's a great resource for ideas. With Earth Month [in April] and Earth Day coming up on April 22, why not jump in and get a little bit of an inside look of what sustainability can mean for your home, garden and life, and what approachable sustainability means?
Sustainable living tips
For Mohs, a manageable approach is key to getting started in eco-friendly practices. Here, he offers tips on easy ways people can live a greener life at home:
• Change your furnace's air filter regularly. A dirty air filter means your home has to work harder, requiring more energy to be used. Plus, you'll gain on air quality and save on energy costs.
• Ask for "zero-VOC" paints when you're at the hardware store. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.
• Use LED lighting. Replace incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs with LED lighting, which can be up to 80% more energy-efficient.
• Add native plants to your landscaping. They need less water and "hibernate" during droughts. It's a win-win.
• Consider installing a bathroom humidity fan sensor. It detects the humidity in the room, so your fan won't run for hours when you forget to turn it off.
Edited and condensed for clarity.