Sara Snow has been immersed in environmental and food issues since she was a child. Surrounded by solar panels, organic gardens and compost piles at her parents’ eco-home outside of Ann Arbor, Mich., she learned the importance of recycling and conserving resources early on. But it was eating for health that was front and center for her family.
“In my household, so much of our conversation and lifestyle revolved around food as health,” the 31-year-old green lifestyle expert recalls. Her parents, Pattie and Tim Redmond (cofounder of Eden Foods and other organic food companies), encouraged her to try everything, but to always pay attention to how different foods affected her body.
“My siblings and I were aware, even from a very young age, that what you eat has a direct impact not only on your physical well-being, but your emotional state, your energy, your moods and everything else,” she says. “Because of this, we were able to make really smart food choices and decisions as we grew up.”
That thoughtful consideration extended beyond food to other everyday lifestyle choices. Instead of buying new clothes, Snow’s family often opted for vintage (secondhand); instead of taking all their trash to the dump, they composted and recycled whatever they could; instead of making daily trips to the grocery store, they grew much of their own food.
When Snow left home in 1994 to attend Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind., she did her best to maintain the simple, natural life she’d always known. That often meant empowering herself to ask for what wasn’t always readily available or considered “normal.” Take, for instance, the meatless Whopper she regularly ordered from an on-campus Burger King: Not only was she the first to make such a request, when a confused employee had no clue what to charge, she proposed the price. “Coming from this sort of no-boundaries family,” Snow says, “I was taught that if the practice hasn’t yet been declared, then go ahead and declare it so you can do it.”
She was just as determined to graduate in four years, and in 1998 she earned her BFA in theater performance and a BS in telecommunications. She went on to make corporate videos before being hired to work on the ESPN series SportsCentury, which earned her two Emmys. The position required a significant amount of traveling, though, and when she married her husband, Ryan, in 2002, she decided to curtail her travel, taking a job as a morning news anchor and reporter with the FOX affiliate in Indianapolis.
She loved the position, but when the 3 a.m. wake-up calls began to take a toll on her health, she knew it was time for a change. “I realized that I could do everything like I always had — I could eat the same healthful foods and exercise very mindfully — but I wasn’t sleeping with the sun,” Snow explains. “The lack of sleep was causing biological systems that should have been operating normally to begin to falter.”
So after three years, she walked away from her job with FOX and began looking for new opportunities. It didn’t take long to find a project that suited her talents and lifestyle. Inspired by her friends’ curiosity and confusion about natural living trends, she conceived a TV series based on her experience living a simple, green lifestyle, and then shot a pilot, which was soon picked up by Discovery Home.
The first green-living TV series, Snow’s Living Fresh was a huge success, drawing the attention of those already fully immersed in the green lifestyle, as well as those just beginning to embrace it. In 2007, she launched Get Fresh With Sara Snow on Discovery Health, and that’s when it hit her that people were really starting to understand what green living was all about — they just needed some guidance.
“People get overwhelmed so easily by all the information out there, and as an advocate of greener living, I feel a great responsibility to encourage more people to take baby steps,” Snow explains. “My mission, my passion, is to help the people who feel a little helpless or don’t know where to start.”
For some, that may mean recycling, buying organic, or growing their own produce; for others, it might be swapping conventional light bulbs for CFLs, taking public transportation, or embracing eco- and vintage fashions.
With this year’s debut of Discovery’s 24-hour green lifestyle network, PlanetGreen, Snow will have more opportunities than ever to help people as its green lifestyle expert. She’s also exploring different venues for reaching new audiences, including a possible radio show and writing a book.
Snow manages all of her commitments by making time for herself first, which she says is absolutely essential for maintaining a sense of balance. “I start each day — and try to end each day, although I often fall asleep — with prayerful meditation,” she says. “It silences, calms and grounds me, and helps me remember my sense of purpose.”