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.
It’s time to start thinking about resolutions. The new year is the perfect time to make changes and create a fresh perspective. Follow these 3 tips from Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice, for more mindful living in the new year.
Everything is fast, easy and digital, yet natural instinct pushes us to disconnect and slow down to regain our sense and quality of life.
1. Start with a clean and calm neutral palette
Begin the year refreshed and rejuvenated with the help of a home environment that focuses on living well.
Start by introducing a quality of softness into the home, coupled with interior design that’s comforting and inviting. “Let the intention of creating a clean and soothing ambiance guide your design decisions,” advises Rebecca. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a personal haven you’ll love going home to relax in.”
Make it a priority to get plenty of good quality sleep. In the bedroom, an oatmeal fabric bed presents the perfect starting point in a space meant for restful slumber. Introduce neutrals in varying tones for interest and depth. Safe, perennial hues to try to include white, soft grey and the recently popular greige.
Select comfortable bedding with minimal prints to focus on creating an uncluttered, restful environment. Where possible, go with furniture that features curves and organic lines instead of sharp, straight edges.
2. Nature is nurturing
Nothing relaxes the mind more than being surrounded by nature; particularly, plants. Start the year on a green note by maximizing on the benefits of having indoor plants. Choose a mix of large and small greenery and varieties that help clean the air. Leafy, trailing plants also inject a little wildness to create a tropical-inspired ambiance.
Besides making the air fresher, their lush green color is soothing on the eyes after a long day of working with screens.
To continue the natural theme, pick furnishings made with materials like wood, rattan, or clay. “The warmth and rawness of their surfaces contribute to a design that has a soothing, back to nature vibe,” says Rebecca.
3. Dedicate a corner for conscious relaxation
As a reminder to make wellbeing a priority for the year ahead, allocate a corner that’s dedicated to relaxation. “A little nook will do; you’ll only need enough space to practice your preferred stretches,” says Rebecca. For meditation and stretching exercises, fit it out with a yoga mat or thick rug. “And if you have a work desk at home, it’s a good idea to carve out a zen zone within the same room for quick stretch breaks.”
Maintaining the same neutral palette, style the space in light hues, and include plenty of plants. Another factor to consider is the accessibility of natural daylight, as it can help reset a confused circadian rhythm. A wellness-inspired space that embraces disconnecting and being present will likely become a favorite spot in the home.
Photos courtesy of Furniture Choice Ltd
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
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
Yerba Buena Island will be a residential development like no other in San Francisco! Boutique developer Wilson Meany and real estate investment firm Stockbridge Capital Group recently announced the start of the vertical construction of this two-decade long milestone project.
The 266 luxury residences will have sweeping 360 degree views of the city, a first of this area’s kind. A naturally formed island in the heart of San Francisco Bay, the island’s community will feature a number of “wellness-minded amenities” such as hiking trails, access to parks and more. Residents will be able to lounge out on Clipper Cove Beach and travel only 10 minutes to the city’s downtown.
“Sustainable” is a keyword for this new development as the island’s diverse topography was kept in mind when designing each condominium, flat and townhome. Meany’s developments, which include the historic San Francisco Ferry building, typically reflect the importance of holistic living and people’s connections with each other and the nature that surrounds them — Yerba Buena Island will be no exception.
More than half of the island’s environmental space is being reserved for open area parks, sandy beaches, and hiking and biking paths. A team of award- winning architecture firms —Hart Howerton, BDE Architecture, Inc., Cliff Lowe Associates, Inc., Hood Design Studio, Edmonds + Lee Architects, Meyer Davis and Aidlin Darling Design — teamed up to create residences that incorporate and celebrate the island’s unique geography.
Photos courtesy of Hayes Davidson.
Depending on the place you call home, the changing seasons may bring cooler weather, warmer fashion, and the beginning of holiday festivities.
If you’re looking to upgrade your closet, find a gift, or treat yourself, here are a few luxurious must-haves for the upcoming months of fall foliage, breezy temperatures, and autumn decor.
Must-Have Sustainable Coffee Mugs
Sustainable is a concept that is here to stay. The increasing awareness about single-use plastic and our threatened environment has sparked an interest in sustainable everything. If you’re switching from iced coffee to steaming tea and hot cocoa, try a ceramic travel mug that will eliminate single-use cups. The ceramic mugs are stylish and functional.
A Wraparound Shawl/Pashmina
These travel wraps are perfect for breezy mornings that require a few extra layers. Muted tones and woven from fine merino wool, these scarves can add a touch of style to your outfit. Later in the day if the chill is gone, the items are lightweight and can easily be stowed away in your bag or in your desk.
A Rainy Day Necessity
A functional and fun umbrella is perfect for unexpected weather. Whether you’re running errands or headed to a business meeting, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain. Don’t let unpredictable weather ruin your day or your style. Find a compact umbrella that fits into your style. Nothing brightens up a rainy afternoon like an umbrella that perfectly suits your personality.
Art and Greenery
Shorter days, cooler nights and less time to spend outdoors can leave some days feeling rather dull. Brighten up your space with a touch of greenery, such as a new plant or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers. A low maintenance option would be a cheerful piece of art that brings life into rooms that can feel drab in the upcoming months.
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