Some of the world’s finest hotels have accepted hundreds of thousands of new guests: honeybees that reflect a commitment to sustainability.
In an era when chefs and consumers are obsessed with conscientious sourcing and sustainability, restaurants are turning to local artisanal producers of cheeses, vegetables and meats. For a natural, sustainable sweetener that cannot get more local, luxury hotels around the world are converting rooftops into honeybee farms, a movement embraced by environmentalists and hotel guests alike.
Author Leslie Day, a naturalist who is passionate about her native New York, has spent a career documenting the city’s birds and trees. Her 2018 book Honeybee Hotel chronicles the rooftop garden and beekeeping operation at Midtown Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The book is a loving celebration of the iconic hotel, now undergoing a $2 billion renovation, and the natural world that doggedly prevails in the Big Apple.
Dr. Day — she holds a doctorate in science education from Columbia — was inspired by the Art Deco property’s conversion of its 20th floor rooftop into a bountiful garden and honeybee farm in 2012. The transformation not only enhanced the hotel’s culinary offerings, but brought together a community of humans to care for colonies totaling approximately 300,000 apis mellifera honeybees. Pleased to see other hotels emulating the Waldorf Astoria’s efforts, Day suggests, “This is a strong statement that a hotel cares about the environment and cares about the ingredients they serve their guests.”
Mandarin Oriental Paris
Ojai Valley Inn
Day reports bees thrive in urban settings and notes even Manhattan is surprisingly hospitable to bees. “Before the chefs and staff put in the garden, the bees would fly to Central Park — about a beeline of a mile away from the Waldorf Astoria — to forage on flowering plants,” reports Day. “The city offers a veritable feast for pollinating animals,” she insists. A strong proponent of urban beekeeping, Day observes, “City beekeepers develop a relationship with these amazing little animals and help them stay healthy by monitoring the hive throughout the year.” She says of the challenging hobby, “It’s a relationship that brings you close to the natural world, even in an urban environment.”
David Garcelon, the chef Leslie Day features in Honeybee Hotel, arrived at the Waldorf Astoria after previously nurturing bees at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. His beekeeping at the Royal York, starting in 2008, was the genesis of a worldwide “Bee Sustainable” program adopted by more than 20 properties in the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts organization. Now hotel manager at Fairmont Banff Springs, Garcelon is attempting to overcome a restriction of introducing honeybees, a non-native species, into Canada’s Banff National Park.
“It’s not often you’re able to do something groundbreaking in a hotel over 100 years old,” recounts Garcelon of his bee program at the Waldorf Astoria. “There was a great deal of excitement when we added the hives, a lot of ‘buzz’ in the media as well,” he says. “However, the most rewarding aspect for me was seeing the look on guests’ faces when we told them we produced our own honey in Midtown Manhattan, then being able to take them to see the hives,” explains Garcelon, who appreciates any ingredient that has a story to tell.
Thanks in part to Fairmont’s aggressive program, the practice of hotels caring for honeybees is not confined to North America. In London, 350,000 bees reside on a third-floor garden at St. Ermin’s Hotel and in Paris, the very chic Mandarin Oriental — it is located on the fashion-forward Rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement — has been honeybee-friendly since 2012. The honey produced by those Parisian bees is used in the hotel’s various restaurants and bars, including the Michelin two-starred Sur Mesure under the direction of chef Thierry Marx.
The Mandarin Oriental’s legendary beekeeper, Audric de Campeau (pictured with his companion on the rooftop of the hotel on page 26), has also introduced beehives to iconic Parisian monuments like Les Invalides and Musée d’Orsay. “Bees are an important part of the pollination cycle and often thrive in urban environments such as Paris, which has been a pesticide-free zone for the past ten years,” explains Mandarin Oriental’s general manager Philippe Leboeuf. To help restore the decreasing honeybee population and to contribute to biodiversity, the hotel maintains two rooftop hives hosting 100,000 Buckfast honeybees, a breed that adapts well to city life.
“Due to the specificity and the diversity of Parisian flowers, the Mandarin Oriental honey has a unique flavor, rich and complex,” reports de Campeau, describing it like a master sommelier. “It has a powerful and persistent scent of red fruits, and tastes wonderfully round in the mouth, with a bright, fresh finish,” he assesses. In addition to chef Marx and pastry chef Adrien Bozzolo, bartenders use the house honey in a cocktail of Champagne, yuzu liqueur and jasmine tea.
Most people outside the state are unaware of it, but Utah is known as the “Beehive State,” and the Waldorf Astoria Park City continues the practices of its flagship property in New York. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll, who also serves as kitchen manager at the hotel’s Powder restaurant, maintains approximately 60,000 honeybees adjoining the onsite herb garden. Looking to become more sustainable in its food practices, the Waldorf Astoria initiated the program in 2014, complementing its emphasis on utilizing local ingredients. “The local sourcing is plentiful in our mountains, but we also wanted to have something, literally, from our own backyard,” explains Carroll, who concedes Utah’s dry climate presents challenges for beekeeping.
Carroll reports guests respond well to the uber-local honey, particularly when presented in the honeycomb. “The Waldorf Astoria honey has a wonderful wildflower flavor that works in various dishes and cocktails,” says the master beekeeper, citing seasonal fruit plates, salad dressings, candied pecans, and cheese or charcuterie boards, as well as a signature cocktail called the Astoria Tonic. VIP guests are treated to tours of the hives and garden, dressed in protective gear.
Dedicated to educating people on the virtues of beekeeping, Carroll reveals some extraordinary facts about honeybees that engender a greater appreciation for the house-made honey hotel guests drizzle into their tea. For instance, it takes 12 honeybees an entire lifetime (which is typically six to seven weeks) to generate a single teaspoon of honey, and in order to create a pound of honey, a hive of bees must travel 55,000 miles.
One might not expect 4,200 acres in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains to be a magnet for sophisticated epicureans, but Tennessee’s Blackberry Farm most certainly is. Almost everything that arrives on the dining table is produced on the premises, and that includes honey overseen by farmstead manager and beekeeper Dustin Busby, whose resume includes celebrated restaurants The Fat Duck and The French Laundry. He manages at least seven hives of European honeybees with access to tulip poplar, wildflowers and sourwood.
Most prized is the honey from sourwood tree blossoms, known for its sweet and spicy qualities, a hint of anise and agreeable aftertaste. Busby explains that factors such as time of harvest, weather conditions and even the specific portion of the hive from which the honey is extracted can influence taste. He is constantly developing new recipes for using the honey in the resort’s preserve kitchen and recently created a blueberry-elderflower jam using the house-made honey in place of sugar.
“Seeing the hives and talking about our bees are part of our garden and farmstead tours,” reports Busby. He adds, “More involved tours of the bees, including suiting up and looking at the hives or even collecting honey, are conducted from time to time on special request from guests.” Blackberry Farm honey is one of the many artisanal food products sold directly to hotel guests.
Blackberry Farm raises virtually everything served at the resort, including house-made honey.
Honey produced at Ojai Valley Inn reflects the flavors of lavender, avocado, and citrus.
The Ojai Valley Inn is just 80 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but feels like another world. From its 220 acres in an idyllic coastal valley, guests enjoy access to the ocean and vineyards, as well as championship golf on site. The Farmhouse — this is a culinary event center directed by acclaimed chef Nancy Silverton — reflects the Inn’s commitment to food and wine. Guests who tour the retreat’s apiary in protective suits enjoy tastings of different honeys whose flavor profiles result from pollination of local plants like avocado, lavender and citrus.
“We’re extremely proud of our beekeeping program at Ojai Valley Inn, not only because it provides us with an amazing estate-curated product that we can offer our guests, but also because we believe strongly in good stewardship of the natural resources of the Ojai Valley,” reports executive chef Truman Jones. Emphasizing the positive ecological impacts yielded through the care of those prolific pollinators, he adds, “It gives us a huge return on our efforts by propagating the flowers and various fruits of the Inn and the entire Valley.”
In San Francisco, nearly a dozen hotels maintain rooftop beehives, including the Clift Royal Sonesta, which uses honey from its “Bee Sanctuary” in craft cocktails at its legendary Redwood Room. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, ranked among the world’s finest resorts, has also developed a strong apiculture program and Philadelphia’s Sofitel at Rittenhouse Square accommodates 480,000 honeybees on its rooftop garden, showcased in dishes at the hotel’s Liberté Lounge.
The beekeeping operations at these luxury hotels are an offshoot of an urban beekeeping movement that has become trendy in the last 20 years. The tasting notes of backyard honeys, sometimes sold at farmers markets and gourmet shops, mirror the flora of an area, even a specific neighborhood, much like a wine reflects its vineyard’s own terroir.
In addition to mesmerizing guests, keeping bees at hotels helps alleviate a crisis-level decline in the honeybee population that threatens entire ecosystems and adversely impacts food production for a hungry world. Master beekeeper Debrah Carroll reports that 80 percent of all flowering plants must be pollinated to survive, and that more than a third of the world’s food supply is dependent on pollination by insects like honeybees.
Addressing her nostalgic Waldorf Astoria, scheduled to reopen in 2022, naturalist Leslie Day comments, “I’m very hopeful the new management will read my book and bring the bees back.”
Honey from the rooftop of the Clift Royal Sonesta is incorporated into cocktails at the historic Redwood Room.
Photo by Sally Guillaume.
These three travel companies offer sustainable opportunities to see — and even help save — the planet.
Ahead of its time when it was originally founded in 1996, South American travel operator Aracari is highly regarded in the sustainable travel industry. Founder Marisol Mosquera defines sustainable travel simply as travel that does not destroy the
destination, which in today’s standards means low impact, low-volume tourism. These pillars of tourism have been part of Aracari’s mission since it began, in order to promote natural landscapes.
One of the most important ways Aracari maintains such high standards of sustainability is by educating guests throughout their trips, to “treat the local communities and sensitive environments with great respect,” Moquera states. To follow through, the company works tirelessly with the other businesses they work with to help ensure their self-imposed regulations are effective across the board. For example, Mosquera says the company seeks boutique hotels that are more stringent on standards like waste management, energy consumption, community involvement, et cetera. With these methods incorporated into their business model, Aracari is able to fulfill
clients’ travel needs while making a smaller impact on the surrounding environment.
“People travel to learn and experience new things, and our region is very rich with cultural and natural attractions,” Mosquera says, attractions that they strive to find new ways of highlighting through their bespoke travel tours. One upcoming tour in May 2020 is an eight-day excursion in Bolivia, hosted by National Geographic photographer Max Milligan, based in Kachi Lodge which is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. Nestled next to Tunupa Volcano, these transparent igloo tents afford wonderful views and a unique sense of isolation while guests enjoy delicious food, hot water and comfortable accommodations.
Kachi Lodge | Bolivia
Kachi Lodge is located on Sachar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.
Photo courtesy of Aracari.
Guests can travel to archaeological sites like Machu Picchu with Aracari’s Peru tours.
Photo by Marcella Echavarria.
Another tour featuring Milligan is an adventure through the mountains of Peru at El Albergue Ollantaytambo, where guests can visit local communities, archaeological sites like Machu Picchu, and an organic garden that stretches from the glacial snowline to the tropical cloud forest.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya
Photo by Stevie Mann.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp | Kenya
Cottar’s Safari Camp provides an authentic and individualized safari experience by ensuring a legacy of wilderness, wildlife, comfort and security.
Photo courtesy of Steppes Travel.
Steppes Travel creates eco-luxury holiday trips that are tailor-made for people who are interested in wildlife. While it highlights giving a behind-the-scenes look into many different sensible wildlife environments and discovering different cultures, at the core, Steppes Travel focuses on giving back to the environment and communities their teams visit. An avid traveller himself, Rob Gardiner fit in perfectly at Steppes Travel as the Commercial Manager for the Africa sector with his overall knowledge and love for travel. “I love the people that you meet, I love the lessons that you learn from it, and I think it breaks down barriers, changing our perception of different places and alters our prejudices,” Gardiner says.
Gardiner says that the company’s focus on sustainable travel is driven by a need to look after the communities they visit and keep those wilderness areas as pristine as possible. Steppes Travel also works with community members and conservation groups to ensure proceeds are given back to those areas, noting that, as a whole, travel can be a force for good. “If you’re lucky enough to go to Zambia, Tanzania or Botswana on safari, for example, there should be money that goes back into the local economy so they too are incentivized to look after what they have.”
Regarding the tours, Gardiner says that the wildlife aspect is what helps keeps sustainability in mind for both guides and travellers. He notes that often these trips provide a unique educational experience, granting travellers a new, real perspective on conservation while taking part in projects like tracking rhinos in South Africa or working on a jaguar safari project in Brazil. Tourists can go further by becoming ambassadors for certain regions and work with communities around the world to be more conscious of endangered environments.
“As much as possible, we don’t believe in cocooning our clients away from the streetlife in Delhi or living with a nomadic family in Mongolia,” Gardiner affirms. “I think it’s about getting to know the people and about having that personal human connection.”
According to Sally Guillaume, owner and founder of sustainable travel company Undiscovered Mountains, her reasons for starting the company were driven by a personal drive to create a better world, “to do things in a way that everyone benefits without exploiting people or environments.”
Focusing on trips located in and around the French Alps, Guillaume wanted to steer away from mass tourism and “build a sustainable approach to tourism both for the communities and the rich natural environments they live in.” In doing so, she built a business that not only focuses on preserving natural environments, but also helps clients to discover authentic Alpine communities, not usually found in mainstream Alpine travel.
Guillaume’s vision of a sustainable world includes less consumerism and a deeper appreciation for experiences. And while Undiscovered Mountains, Steppes Travel and Aracari are all model companies, there is a long way to go in sustainable tourism — from updating local infrastructure to promoting lower-impact travel methods such as train or “green” vehicles. She notes, however, the ethical standards of travel companies have become more and more important consumers in recent years, as well as the destination and activities involved.
From touring preserved natural environments with abundant wildlife and flora on the southern French Alps, to immersive tours in both Nepal and Norway that are launching soon, Undiscovered Mountains will continue to make its mission about serving the environment, which has always shaped the culture around them. “The type of food people eat, the architecture of old buildings, the choice of where villages are situated is all to do with how people have survived living off the land of the mountains for centuries.”
The French Alps
Travelers can learn to paraglide and fly above the mountains on one of Undiscovered Mountain’s paragliding courses.
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
The French Alps
From ski touring to dogsledding with huskies, …
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
The French Alps
Undiscovered Mountains offers a wide assortment of winter activities that are fully customisable, all in the French Alps.
Photo courtesy of Undiscovered Mountains.
Whether you’re hosting a clambake on Nantucket, enjoying a procession of edible jewels at a Tokyo sushi bar or simply shopping for a suburban supper, the days of consuming seafood with careless abandon are gone. The oceans are desperately overfished, and seafood lovers must be conscious of their own personal impact on the aquatic environment.
The best known resource for both suppliers and consumers is Seafood Watch, a program created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Northern California 20 years ago. Its regional consumer guides, identifying the most sustainable and most threatened species, are valued by consumers, chefs and eco-conscious corporations. “We use a rigorous, scientifically-based standard to come up with recommendations, result-ing in the most up-to-date, credible information,” states Maddie Southard, content manager for Seafood Watch.
So influential are these guides—60 million have been distributed to date—that when a particular item moves from the red (“Avoid”) category to yellow (“Good Alternatives”) or green (“Best Choices”), millions of dollars can change hands. Reflecting the thoroughness of Seafood Watch’s recommendations, flounder appears four times as a “Best Choice,” 14 times as a “Good Alternative” and 18 times in the “Avoid” column depending on the exact species, geographic origin and methods of fishing or farming employed.
©Monteray Bay Aquarium, Photo by Tyson V. Rininger.
“Consumers help drive change, and when businesses recognize what’s import-ant to consumers they respond,” reports Southard of Seafood Watch’s ability to engage corporations like Whole Foods and Blue Apron. The program’s restaurant partners transcend economic strata, from trendy Farallon in San Francisco to family-friendly Red Lobster restaurants across the country.
In its early days, businesses viewed Seafood Watch as a fringe movement but today participation is embraced and display of the organization’s yellowfin tuna logo can be a marketing asset. A Blue Ribbon Task Force, comprised of honored culinary authorities, enhances Seafood Watch’s relevance with diners. “The public admires chefs and culinarians, and we realized the impact they have on consumers,” offers Southard, who adds, “Chefs were some of the earliest supporters of the movement so this was a natural partnership.”
“Whenever I’m making decisions about what to put on a menu, I always ask myself, ‘What would Sheila do,’” says Los Angeles chef Michael Cimarusti, referring to Seafood Watch’s Sheila Bowman, who oversees outreach to chefs. Cimarusti, who has earned two Michelin stars at his flag-ship restaurant Providence, became conscious of sustainable sourcing issues as a young chef in L.A. 20 years ago, when a Gourmet magazine review admonished him for serving bluefin tuna.
“As I learned more about issues relating to sustainability, I became really passion-ate about it and wanted to become more active in the movement,” explains Cimarusti. “I was honored to be asked to sit on the Task Force and have learned a tremendous amount from Seafood Watch,” says the chef, who shares all of the program’s recommendation alerts with his staff.
Éric Ripert, chef/partner of New York’s Le Bernardin, takes sustainability as seriously as Cimarusti. “I spend my days with many varieties of fish, considering which are best for the restaurant, he says. Ripert explains, “This means more than just judging by flavor and composition, but includes the ethics and politics surrounding how they’ve been made available to us.” The Michelin three-star chef cautions, “If we don’t support the artisanal way of catching fish, it’s going to disappear.”
Michael Cimarusti. ©Jennkl Photography.
Courtesy of Whole Foods Market.
Hugh Acheson, author and James Beard Award-winning chef with a family of Georgia restaurants, also sits on Seafood Watch’s advisory board and is a strong advocate for local, sustainable ingredients. He recalls that in the 1990s chefs addressed a severe threat to swordfish through a voluntary ban and use of more sustainable alternatives, allowing stocks to replenish. “It made me realize how much clout we have, as chefs, to mandate change when we act as a plurality,” states Acheson.
“I think Seafood Watch has succeeded in being a valuable resource for consumers, chefs, wholesalers, and grocery stores,” says the Canadian-born chef who has helped reimagine Southern cuisine. Acheson, who notes that swordfish continues to face challenges, suggests Seafood Watch would have been an invaluable resource decades ago, when many chefs were oblivious to sustainability issues.
An affinity for bluefin tuna (maguro) and eel (unagi), both largely on Seafood Watch’s “Avoid” list, and adherence to centuries-old traditions makes sushi chefs among the most reluctant to adopt sustainable practices. One sushi chef committed to sustainability is Bun Lai, chef/owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, Connecticut and another member of Seafood Watch’s Blue Ribbon Task Force. Some odd ingredients—every-thing from insects and invasive species to edible weeds—populate his voluminous menu, and the James Beard Award nominee relies on guidance from Seafood Watch.
Éric Rippert. ©Daniel Kreiger Photography.
Hugh Acheson. Photo by Emily B. Hall.
“Miya’s started working on sustainable seafood very gradually in the early 2000s,” reports Lai, explaining that unreliable data made conscientious sourcing challenging. “Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch changed all of that by creating a tool that helped people choose sustainable seafood in a market awash with imported seafood of mostly dubious origin and quality,” says Lai. “When I first discovered Seafood Watch, it was as if a light beamed into the darkness I was surrounded by,” he says.
Bun Lai. ©Alan S. Orling.
“I admire my heritage, but we must question our traditions, too,” states Lai, acknowledging sushi’s popularity contributes to overfishing around the globe. He cites Jiro Ono, the revered sushi master featured in the documentary film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who lamented the demise of the majestic bluefin while continuing to serve it to customers.
“There are, however, sushi chefs filled with a passion for sustainable seafood like those café owners who pioneered fair trade coffee decades ago,” says Lai with optimism. With Seafood Watch’s guides and app available to chefs and consumers alike, good choices can be made on both sides of the bar.
Falper Vetro Integrated Cabinet Glass Top Basin. All photos courtesy Rogerseller.
‘Green’ design and products have historically found their classification in the product features themselves and not necessarily in the processes behind the production, or the facilities that produce them.
But that’s beginning to change, with more emphasis given to the green cogs that keep the green machine going.
Luckily, you don’t have to go green with envy at what others are doing; below, we’ve listed several firms working to contribute to the green movement.
Utilizing recycled marble that is a by-product of its mosaic tile workshop, Claybrook’s MarbleForm bathware is manufactured in a low impact, emission-free production process, using environmentally sustainable products, materials and manufacturing methods wherever possible.
With a unique wet polishing method, which incorporates water, the method is healthier, cleaner and safer, the result is a finer and smoother texture for a superior finish.
Apart from the fact that these pieces are made from recycled by-products, the actual products themselves can be recycled too.
At right: Claybrook Skye Bath
“Think Green” is the motto of Catalano, who has been pursuing sustainability and respect for the environment at all stages of its production cycle for years. The firm prides itself in using pure raw materials without any risk of toxicity, while cutting-edge technology has resulted in a new generation of products with reduced thicknesses that require less material.
Catalano pays great attention to environmental efficiency and operating conditions of machinery as well; the installation of solar panels at the production plant generates 1,625,000 KWh – about a quarter of its total energy requirements.
Catalano’s plant is characterized by a low-noise impact and features a closed-loop wastewater recycling system, while the production processes facilitate the maximum reduction of volatile fumes and pollutants released into the atmosphere. But its green efforts don’t stop there.
When it comes to its products, Catalano is constantly innovating to ensure it stays at the forefront of technology and its impact on product design. For example, the company’s revolutionary glazing method, Cataglaze+, actively kills bacteria through Silver Titanium technology, eliminates the stagnation of water and reduces the amount of cleaning detergents and water required. The visibly superior aesthetic also guarantees anti-yellowing over time.
At left: Catalano Zero 55 Basin
Utilizing only natural materials, Falper recycles all of its manufacturing waste.
Each timber panel is certified ecological and all the wood finishes are entirely water-based.
Scratches and breaks are easily restored on the surfaces of bathtubs and washbasins, reducing the need to replace items, while they are also completely recyclable.
At right: Falper Quattro Zero Caldera bath
At its core, Fantini is all about water. Since 2012, its “100 Fontane: Fantini for Africa” project has succeeded in bringing clean water to 25,000 people in Masango, Burundi, through the construction of 12 collection wells, 27km of aqueducts and 100 water outlets.
Fantini products also adhere to the most stringent standards to safeguard consumer health. Its products are certified Lead free (containing less than 0.25 percent) whilst they’re also utilizing more stainless steel across all of its collections. A compact and solid material, stainless steel offers the highest resistance to corrosion and is particularly hard-wearing and durable, facilitating maximum hygiene. In addition, it’s also an eco-friendly and recyclable material.
At left: Fantini Mare Basin Mixer
In the United States and around the world, dining out is a common luxury. Getting to savor creative dishes, discovering new foods and enjoying the atmosphere of a restaurant all together make for a memorable time.
A downside to eating out: food waste. In the United States alone, about 11.4 million tons of food is wasted each year. That staggering number has opened the eyes of chefs and home cooks to practice zero-waste cooking.
This up-and-coming trend led three chefs in Helsinki, Finland to open up a restaurant dedicated to waste-free cooking. Restaurant Nolla, located in Helsinki’s Design District, combines Finnish cooking with the roots of the founders and chefs, Albert Franch Sunyer, Carlos Henriques, and Luka Balac.
Restaurant Nolla prides itself on using fresh and well-kept ingredients.
Each dish created is carefully crafted to maximize every piece of each ingredient. Parts of an item that can’t be utilized are composted. Restaurant guests witness this process as the composter is located in the main dining area, showcasing what the restaurant is all about. Although utilized, the composter is not used as a garbage can. Before each item is tossed away, it is weighed and analyzed using a waste management software. Data is collected, what was thrown out, who threw it away and why, and is used to help improve the restaurants practices.
The Restaurant Nolla team.
The composter sits in the dining room.
“Nolla is a restaurant without a trash bin. You cannot find any single use plastic here — no plastic packaging, no cling film, no vacuum bags, no foil,” says Sunyar, head chef of Restaurant Nolla, “Every detail from staff clothing and napkins to tableware has been thought of. Even the gift cards are made of compostable paper that has poppy seeds in them.”
Food is handled in a special way to ensure that Restaurant Nolla remains a waste-free establishment. From the way the food is delivered right down to how it’s stored, no part of the process was disregarded.
“We have created a box system for vegetables, fish and meat with local producers,” says Sunyar. “The boxes travel back and forth to prevent any packaging waste. We are very strict with this rule. If something comes in a non-reusable packaging, it is sent back to the supplier. No exceptions. This is the only way to make sure that people understand our beliefs and respect our practices.”
All parts of rhubarb.
Beans and crudo.
Ice cream, berries and honey.
Sturgeon Pil Pil.
Food is fermented, pickled and dried to ensure ingredients are stored properly. The restaurant works with local producers who help them determine the best ingredients to use, based on what is growing during peak season.
“We use local and organic products,” says Sunyar. “The ingredients and their natural characteristics are the backbone of our tasting menus, and therefore, it is imperative that the quality of the produce is very high. These products tend to be more expensive in general, however, by using seasonal products and utilizing every part of them, our way of operating is very much cost effective.”
The chefs set out to show people that what they have accomplished is profitable and manageable. According to Sunyar, it’s not an easy process and creating the menu does take some time, but in the end he and the team stand by what they do, and they execute delicious and visibly beautiful dishes.
“It is a common misconception that waste-free practices mean cooking from products that expire soon or that making sustainable choices means that the quality deteriorates,” says Sunyar. “We do not cook from waste nor do we produce waste. We want to show that creative and great food can go hand in hand with sustainability.”
Tomatoes, raspberry and chili.
All photos and feature photo courtesy of Nikola Tomevski.
Fashion brands held to the highest style standards are now being called on to create unforgettable designs, responsibly.
The footwear industry poses a few hard-to-answer questions when it comes to sustainability. The amount of waste generated in the production phase is staggering and the options for recycling post-consumption are challenging due to the wide variety of materials used.
For example, rubber and leather are difficult to recycle and the chemicals used, such as glues and dyes, can be detrimental to the environment. Despite the many obstacles, there are companies that are more than up to the challenge.
Photo courtesy of Rothy’s
Model with shoes photo by kerstin jacobsen
ALINASCHUERFELD, named after its founder, is the perfect example of a fashion-forward company offering high-end products without harming the environment along the way. “We are galvanizing the way to a fair and sustainable fashion industry, built upon the powerful human and planetary principles of respect and responsibility,” says the founder and CEO, Alina Schürfeld. “I am using fashion as a tool to create consciousness; the products tell a story about traditional craftsmanship, quality, and appreciation.”
From the beginning, Schürfeld knew she wanted to create well-crafted, distinctive pieces, and sustainability was always the starting point. “The fashion industry has disastrous, often irreparable socio-cultural and ecological effects,” says Schürfeld. This is why her company utilizes salmon leather and chrome-free tanning, which help to reduce chemicals and limit waste.
Leather tanning is the process that transforms animal hides into a durable and long-lasting material that will not quickly decompose. However, the approach involves harsh chemicals that not only contain dangerous carcinogens but can contribute to harmful runoff. To avoid certain hazardous chemicals, ALINASCHUERFELD uses leather that is tanned with chrome-free, vegetable-, or rhubarb-based substances.
Additionally, the eco-conscious company uses bio-certified salmon leather, which would otherwise be disposed of and wasted. “I was inspired by the idea of adding extra value to a former waste product that was discarded from the processing fish industry,” Schürfeld says. Salmon leather provides the same durability as traditional leather and offers a unique texture that contributes to the style of the shoe.
The texture of the salmon leather is clearly preserved and adds to the individual design.
Photos courtesy of Alinaschuerfeld
Rothy’s, another unforgettable brand, proposes fashion crafted mainly from the dreaded, post-consumer plastic water bottle.
This sustainable footwear company is growing in popularity, not only because of the big names that are sporting its shoes, like Kristen Bell, Amy Adams and Meghan Markle, but due to the company’s admirable goal to create shoes without leaving behind waste. The Flat, the Point, the Loafer, and the Sneaker are made from recycled PET plastic — a widely-used packaging material — that is transformed into yarn and then 3D knitted, according to Rothy’s. Even the foam and the rubber used for the soles of the shoes are made from recycled materials and designed to reduce waste.
The company emerged in 2015 when co-founders Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin realized comfortable and fashionable flats were hard to come by. Once understanding the amount of waste that’s created in the footwear industry, they decided on a sustainable process. Rothy’s 3D knitting process reduces waste significantly compared to other companies. The entire procedure from the plastic bottles to the minimalist shoe box has been streamlined in terms of sustainability.
Already, 25 million water bottles have been saved from a lifetime at the bottom of the ocean and transformed, according to Rothy’s. The sophisticated designs and brilliant colors are professional enough for the office, stylish enough for a night out, and comfortable enough for a day of adventure. Rothy’s also offers a collection of kids shoes that are lasting and easy to care for in a variety of prints such as flames, rainbows, and more.
Photos courtesy of Rothy’s
Responsible footwear continues to be a new kind of luxury that facilitates fast-paced and fashion-forward customers. “VEERAH is inspired by women, made for warriors,” says Stacey Chang, founder of VEERAH. “We are a mission-driven luxury shoe company founded for women to conquer the world in style and make a positive impact.”
The company works with a variety of groundbreaking materials that are cruelty-free and non-harmful for the environment, making the brand stand out among others. With sustainability in mind, VEERAH uses cork, which is durable, soft, and water-resistant, as well as post-consumer PET plastic bottle fabric, vegan calfskin, and even apple peel skin. This revolutionary bio-based vegan leather comes from actual apples harvested in the Italian Alps. The peels are dried, ground into a fine powder, and transformed into a breathable and sturdy material that is perfect for crafting footwear.
“As a socially and environmentally conscious woman, it was essential for me to create a versatile collection that aligned with my own personal values. I knew that sustainability and luxury could harmoniously coexist when you combine smart sourcing and thoughtful design,” according to Chang. Chang decided to start VEERAH when she couldn’t find a shoe that was sustainable and vegan. Every aspect of VEERAH shoes, from the fabric and the soles to the ink used for the packaging, are designed to effectively reduce landfill waste and limit toxic chemicals.
VEERAH’s apple peel skin is a sustainable, vegan alternative to traditional leather.
Photos courtesy of VEERAH
Nisolo, a sustainable fashion brand, shares its impact report online and offers everything from jewelry and accessories, to heels, boots, bags and more.
This company focuses on more than low prices. The handcrafted process involves intentional designs, an ethical work environment, and comfortable fashion that can be worn every day.
We sat down with Devon Murrie, brand partnerships manager at Nisolo, to learn more about this industry.
What is the inspiration behind your company?
Nisolo has the vision to push the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction — where success is based on more than just offering the cheapest price — a direction that not only values exceptional design but the producer and the planet just as much as the end consumer.
What are some of the biggest challenges when creating sustainable shoes?
One of the biggest challenges of sustainable production is gaining complete visibility into every level of a supply chain. We took a much deeper look into our supply chain in 2018 after learning from Patagonia about their material traceability practices. We still do not have 100% visibility into every level of our supply chain (we regularly visit all of our factories and tanneries, but no farms to date), however, after speaking with representatives of our tanneries in León, Mexico, we know that a lot of our leather comes from farms in the USA and northern Mexico, and is a byproduct of the meat industry. Diving into this further is a priority of ours for 2019.
What does sustainable mean to you?
We at Nisolo feel a responsibility to the ethical treatment of our producers. We work to ensure living wages, safe and healthy working conditions, and additional benefits such as healthcare, time off, and bonuses for our producers. We also feel a responsibility to understand our supply chain and mitigate our environmental impact. All leather used in our supply chain is a byproduct of the meat industry, and we’re utilizing the more eco-friendly vegetable tanning method across many products.
Please explain why your company stands out among others?
Two things really set Nisolo apart: our attention to good, functional design and our vertical integration. We actually own and operate our factory in Peru, which allows us both visibility and flexibility into our design and impact practices.
Despite our confidence in those areas, we know greenwashing has reached new heights in our industry and we felt it essential to obtain third-party certification from a highly respected organization. So in 2017 Nisolo also received B Corporation certification — recognizing us as a company that uses the power of business to help solve the social and environmental challenges our world faces today.
Moen, a leader in water experiences in the home, has partnered with Nebia, a Silicon Valley-based startup, to work together on shower innovations that will impact how people around the world enjoy and conserve nature’s most precious resource.
To kick off their relationship, Moen and Nebia launched the Nebia Spa Shower 2.0 on Kickstarter last month, the first of many collaborations between the companies. This partnership includes joint product development and distribution plans. Moen is also leading a Series A investment in Nebia.
“Moen is changing the game when it comes to helping consumers better understand and appreciate water. Whether it’s partnerships like Nebia, or the development of new technologies, we’re using innovation and artful design to transform how people interact with this resource — and this is just the beginning,” says Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president, and the chief marketing and innovation officer of Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group.
This latest endeavor is a new and improved version of Nebia’s original spa shower and provides a hotter shower with the feeling of more pressure, while saving 65 percent of water compared to a conventional shower. It’s available in two brand-new finishes of high-grade powder coated aluminum, Matte Silver and Matte Black.
“We are on a mission to build a more sustainable future, by building products that people love to use. Moen has long been a leader in our industry and together we can bring meaningful innovation and provide even greater impact for people around the world. Nebia customers have already saved an estimated 100+ million gallons of water, and are on our way to saving one billion gallons in the next two years,” says Philip Winter, Nebia’s co-founder and CEO.
The Nebia collaboration is another important example of Moen leading the charge into a new era of monumental change in how people encounter water every day. Earlier this year, Moen announced its partnership with another startup to offer more consumers innovative ways to detect leaks and manage their water supply.
Photos courtesy of Moen.
Not all trends have staying power — some of interior design’s most lasting legacies started out as fads, while other trends seem to have vanished as fast as they appeared. Along with selecting sustainable products, it is important to take a closer look at black finishes, marble in home products, bright colors and geometric patterns.
Three Feel-Good Sustainable Products
Not only does green living reduce the carbon footprint today, but it paves the way for a better tomorrow. For starters, Malvina from Newport Brass exceeds WaterSense requirements while meeting water-saving standards set forth by the California Energy Commission and CALGreen. Meanwhile, the Tinka collection from Les Jardins Solar Lighting features interchangeable solar lighting modules. Not only are they transposable across the entire Les Jardins Solar Lighting line, but the module produces 500 lumens of LED light and up to 200 hours of life per charge. And finally, the LED BUSTER Bulb from Buster + Punch is an innovative eco-friendly LED alternative to traditional filament bulbs and the first to implement novel changes in design. In the end, any of these must-have products not only help the environment, but help us feel good, too.
Geometric lines and exact planes come together in Newport Brass’ new Malvina faucet, an engineering marvel inspired by the iconic smooth stucco and concrete of contemporary architecture. Whether it’s the solid-brass rectangular lever or perfectly scaled cross handles, all fixtures are meticulously shaped and expertly finished at Newport Brass’ California facility in order to achieve a striking and precise design. With a deep commitment to sustainable manufacturing processes, Newport Brass takes pride in energy-saving methods that shrink emissions, recycle materials, enhance resources, and lessen waste.
Les Jardins Solar Lighting
A true standout in modern design, Tinka brings a whole new meaning to green living. Available in teak or colorful aluminum finishes, the light is a must-have for brightening backyard gatherings, glamping trips and every adventure along the way. The replaceable and interchangeable solar LED module can simply swap out your old solar modules with new ones as our renewable lighting technology evolves. Because our lanterns are designed to be timeless, they can travel with you through life and never end up in a landfill. With dimming capabilities and a motion sensor, a lantern from the Les Jardins Solar Lighting collection is far more than just attractive outdoor lighting: It brings luxury within reach and embraces cutting-edge solar technology at the same time.
LED BUSTER Bulb
Buster + Punch
Magic happens inside the resin light base at the center of the LED BUSTER Bulb. That’s because it performs two incredible functions: a focused spotlight to illuminate surfaces below and a warm ambient glow to light faces and spaces around it. With an E26 base, it can also be used as a direct replacement for standard screw-thread incandescent bulbs. Defining the next evolution in an industry that is undergoing a change in ideals, the LED BUSTER Bulb raises the bar in lighting technologies.
Photos courtesy of DRS and Associates.
Artist and inventor Bandana Jain works with recycled and eco-friendly materials to create one-of-a-kind artwork for the home.
Sharing a deep concern for the environment, the contemporary artist has been creating artwork using corrugated cardboard for the last seven years. She crafts unique furniture for clients — from couches and desks to tables and lamps.
She is also the founder of Sylvn Studio, a business dedicated to conserving the environment. The India-based business is the country’s only design label specialized in hand-crafted décor products made of recycled corrugated cardboard.
How did you first begin your work with cardboard? Why did you choose this medium?
Initially, I worked with a few other mediums. To choose cardboard as a signature medium was a conscious decision I had taken because I wanted to offer something different. Also I wanted to educate people about adopting sustainable lifestyle.
How has your journey with this medium shifted in the last seven years?
It only grew with time. Corrugated cardboard is certainly not an easy medium to work with. I struggled a lot and over time I gathered experience and maturity to handle this medium. I must say nobody can touch me now.
Why is it important that designers/artists use recycled and eco-friendly mediums and that homeowners choose to purchase these types of artwork?
We are all the children of the earth. The existence of our being is intrinsically connected to nature. As responsible humans, it is for us to ensure that we build a better place for ourselves and subsequent generations to come. This can happen only when we make the right choice.
Why should homeowners incorporate these pieces into their homes?
A well-designed interior accessory revs up the design quotient of your abode. And every accessory in a home is akin to an individual chapter in the overall design narrative. It defines the space and tends to be a conversation starter because of its exclusivity and aesthetics. Who doesn’t want to be talked about?
Where do you gather inspiration for your creations?
Inspiration comes to me from a myriad of spaces. As an artist, my observations and experiences guide me. My choice of medium is also a part of my experience. Once I was in Zermatt where I had the chance to explore the Eco Village; the determination of the locals to keep the town sustainable inspired me a great deal.
Photos courtesy of Bandana Jain