Categories Opinion Column

What Sustainability Means to Us at Luxury Frontiers

Sustainability is more than a hot-button word—it’s a complex term that encompasses a broad range of actions, beliefs, and objectives. And the team at Luxury Frontiers understands this better than most. Since the beginning, we’ve worked tirelessly to build and promote hospitality projects that ‘think’ locally, with small communities and sensitive ecosystems in mind. By doing so, we’ve strived to push the bounds of sustainable hospitality while encouraging other hospitality groups to follow suit.

As anyone on our team will attest, no one hospitality project is the same, and one of the things that makes our work so exciting is the innovation and creativity required to ‘break the mold’ and redefine what is possible. Part of this requires eating, breathing, and sleeping sustainability, so that it becomes second nature—a lifestyle, if you will.

How has the rigors of the job affected the personal philosophies of our team? What does sustainability mean to them? And what are some of the simple yet meaningful ways that have made their lives more sustainable? We put these questions to 30 of our team members in the San Francisco and Johannesburg offices. Their answers, below.

“Sustainability is a balancing act. It’s about reducing our footprint while being mindful of our consumption and trying to improve the quality of life of people around the world. In my home, we try to use less energy by turning off the lights and using only natural gas to cook (as opposed to electricity, microwaves, and toaster ovens). We’ve also started maintaining a vegetable garden!”—Mark Vorstenbosch, Production Manager

“Eating locally, reducing the number of disposable products I use, donating old clothing, taking showers instead of baths—these are just a few ways that I try to be more environmentally-conscious. To me, sustainability means living in such a way that what we consume does not vastly exceed what we contribute. We need to ensure that, by meeting our needs, we are not comprising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. In a perfectly sustainable world, there is a harmonious, healthy, and beautiful equilibrium between the Earth and all its inhabitants, and by taking care of our planet, our planet can continue to take care of us.”—Idalina Silva, Senior Interior Designer

“I’m wary of mindless consumerism. For instance, last Christmas, I used the cuttings from a plant in my garden to grow a gift for each of my husband’s and my colleagues. It only cost me some time and love!”—Lizelle Mcintyre, Bookkeeper

“Sustainability is a state of mind. It’s a way of thinking that should inform our daily actions and our long-term decisions so that we’re doing minimal harm to the environment. Luxury Frontiers’ practical, sensible approach to sustainability is something I’ve carried over to my personal life.”—Graeme Labe, Principal & Managing Director

“As a father of two, I think more each day about the kind of world I want my kids, and their kids, to inherit. Fittingly, a quote from Dr. Seuss: ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I’m asking you, Sir, at the top of my lungs. Oh, please do not cut down another one.”—Stuart Mather Pike, Senior Project Manager

“Luxury Frontiers has inspired me to think creatively and innovatively about sustainability in my life. Instead of simply thinking of my own needs, I’m now striving to take into account the wellbeing of the environment and future generations in all aspects of my life.”—Kelly Kriel, Administration Assistant

“‘Recycle,’ ‘Live Green,’ and ‘Think Before You Buy’— these slogans are guiding principles in my life. I’m all about finding creative ways to re-use materials. Everything should have more than one life — clothing can be cut up to use as rags and building material should be salvaged for other projects.”—Rian Crouse, Senior Project Manager

“Environmental sustainability is the partnership between humans and the natural world. As humans, we must view the earth as a valuable resource without which we cannot survive. Therefore, we should take only what we need and give back as much as we can. Every individual action contributes to the carbon footprint, so I am mindful of the brands I support, the products I buy, and other small but meaningful everyday choices.”—Micayla Freeman, Architect

“Since working at Luxury Frontiers, recycling and using more sustainable products has become a bigger part of my lifestyle, and I enjoy doing my part in helping the environment. I also make it my mission to influence family and friends to do the same. In my household, we use canvas shopping bags, recycled bamboo toothbrushes, and soap that doesn’t come in plastic containers. We’re also good about dividing up our plastics, food waste, cardboard/paper, and glass for recycling or composting.”—Chantelle Slabber, Visualization Artist

“I think of a quote by Thomas Merton: ‘Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.’ I’m a big believer in maintaining balance between the manmade and the natural—which sometimes necessitates destruction and stasis. In my own life, I try to recycle, buy less and fix more, and use only what I need. I also think it’s important to live light-heartedly. If you walk around with a grudge, you risk missing out on all the beauty that surrounds you.”—Anomien Smith, Director of Architectural & Interior Design

“I believe sustainability is the ability to meet our needs now without compromising the future that our children deserve. My family and I do our best to use natural, non-toxic products. We also donate our time and goods to causes close to our heart, like squatter camps and animal shelters.”—Caitlyn Dixon, Procurement Administrator

“For me, sustainability is synonymous with recycling. I enjoy finding new ways to repurpose objects. An old piece of driftwood could be used to make a sculpture, for example, while an old door could find a new life as a decorative object for the garden!”—Grant Todd, Architectural Technologist

“I’ve considered myself an environmentalist for over a decade, and in my daily life, I follow and advocate for a vegan lifestyle that rejects the exploitation of the earth and its beings. As my philosophy is rooted in the importance of living in harmony with each of the earth’s systems, cycles, and organisms, I believe we should not only avoid taking more than we need, but we should also protect and replenish nature.”—Lebogang Mashego, Architectural Technologist

“Sustainability is about the conservation of finite natural resources. It’s imperative that we maintain ecological balance for the benefit of current and future generations—and for all species! My family is very environmentally conscious, and we have implemented many sustainable principles into our daily lives. For starters, our house is equipped with a solar system, so we have a 70% reduction in overall energy use. We save water from our showers to use in the garden, where we’ve planted mostly indigenous plants, which have a low water need and attract native wildlife. We compost all our vegetable and cardboard scraps and use this compost as mulch in our plant beds and crops. We also recycle paper, plastic, glass, and tins so that our landfill waste is minimal. Finally, we carpool when possible, go to the shops every second week to reduce our carbon footprint, and rely on alternative ventilation methods to heat and cool our house. The green revolution is the only solution to save our planet from ourselves!”—Lynda Bell, Administration Manager

“It’s many things: shifting away from fossil fuels and natural resources and moving toward efficient use of renewables; placing greater value on the protection of ecosystems while advocating for the fair distribution of resources; and developing self-sufficient living and building methodologies that will allow us to transition into lower-impact societies.”—Thando Nkabinde, Interior Designer

“Sustainability is driving a cultural shift of massive proportions. It has permeated every aspect of consumers’ lifestyles and ushered in a sense of urgency and crisis: it’s not a matter of whether we will run out of natural resources, it’s a matter of when. As a consumer, I try to life plastic-free. I say no to plastic bags several times every day and refuse to use takeaway containers for food. I use worm composting to recycle food scraps and other organic materials, which in turn nourishes the soil for my family’s vegetable and fruit garden. As someone who travels constantly, I’ve offset the carbon emissions of my flights by planting trees in Costa Rica through an initiative called Association Community Carbon Trees. It’s something I would like to do on a regular basis and, eventually, in a more systematic way. A cause that is dear to my heart is the support and empowerment of the people of Sumba, an island in Indonesia. I regularly make donations to Nihi Sumba Foundation as a way to preserve the cultural traditions of the island’s locals. Finally, I’m looking to run a marathon at the North Pole in the next year or so to promote awareness about global warming and raise funds for community work.”—Luca Franco, Founder & CEO

“I incorporate Luxury Frontiers’ sustainable philosophy into my everyday life by using recyclable materials, not wasting papers, and watching my water usage. For me, sustainability is about minimizing our carbon footprints and acting with the future in mind.”—Lana van Wyk, Procurement Manager

“Sustainability has to do with creating a symbiotic and holistic relationship between the environment, society, and the economy. I try to make better choices every day, including reducing my impact on the environment and taking part in socioeconomic uplift initiatives.”—Murray Hardman, Lead Project & Design Architect

“Awareness and accountability are key. On the individual level, it’s about being mindful of what we consume and what we leave behind. Personally, I recycle regularly, walk as much as I can, try to limit how much water I use when I brush my teeth and take a shower, and limit my meat consumption to 2-3 times a week. It’s also important to acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement—one day, I hope to buy an electric car!”—Sarah Kruger, Interior Architect

“Sustainability is not an idealistic or alternative concept—it is accessible and can be a simple element of daily life, and we can all do our part. While I think we should all challenge our daily choices and reflect on the way we live our lives, sustainability can begin with the smallest of actions and compound quickly from there. For example, growing up in Southern California (a land of perpetual drought), we were taught from elementary school to switch off the lights every time you leave a room and turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Over the course of 25-30 years, I imagine those tiny efforts alone have added up! There are daily living and consumer choices I make now as an adult which I know will likewise compound over time.”—JamieRose Briones, Director of Strategy & Development

“To me, the concept of sustainability has evolved over the years, starting with tangible initiatives like recycling to more intangible ones that deal with social justice. I now understand that sustainability means taking a holistic, 360-degree approach. It’s as much about conservation, rewilding, and climate change as it is about social action, equality, and good citizenship.”—Jesús Parrilla, Principal

“Sustainability shares a lot of common ground with minimalism. Both ask that you take stock of what you own and surround yourself with only the possessions you need to get by. Once you’ve figured out what constitutes ‘the essentials’, you avoid bulking up on what you don’t need, which often translates to traveling shorter distances and supporting small business in your communities. Fortunately, I live close to our Johannesburg office, which has granted me the ability to cycle to work.”—Jacques Wienkus, Senior Architectural Technologist

“I try to be mindful of all my decisions so that I eliminate unnecessary consumption. I also place a big emphasis on recycling and reuse.”—Juan Cloete, Architect

“It’s about living in unison with our planet to ensure a beautiful and healthy future for all. I think it’s important to realize that sustainability is not something that is achieved but rather, a long-term commitment, a way of living and a way of thinking so that you’re actively trying to live simpler each day. It starts with the little things—turning off the tap water while brushing your teeth, turning off the lights, and grows so that you’re constantly reevaluating your actions and choices.”—Wayne De Jong, Architectural Technologist

“Sustainability encompasses the flow and essence of everyday life. For me, it’s the key to balance, not just mentally and physically but also psychologically to the extent that it shapes the pace of your day-to-day wellbeing. With sustainability being the new norm in today’s competitive market, I think it’s important to seek alternative ways to do business. Being part of Luxury Frontiers has encouraged me to envision the bigger picture and to focus on innovation so that you’re creating value in the long-term.”—Janus Nel, Project Manager

“Preservation and balance are, to me, totems of environmental and social sustainability. Some basic ways I try to achieve sustainability in my everyday life include rain harvesting, buying food from sustainable farmers and purveyors, and thinking with the empowerment of locals in mind.”—Emma Blain, Interior Designer

“Sustainability is the harmonious relationship between ecology, humanity, and the economy. I try to recycle as much as I can and control the clutter in my life, so that I’m living as minimally as possible and only using what is necessary.”—Nadia Ghillino, Interior & Design Architect

“Thinking globally is key to maintaining ecological balance. We need to think about the forces, like technology, that have endangered our planet and altered the future of life as we know it. Since I’ve been at Luxury Frontiers, I’ve learned a lot about waste management. I’m now at a place where I’ve started recycling waste and being more conscious about what I buy.”—Sethabile Zondo, Project Administrator

“To me, sustainability means aligning your lifestyle with Mother Nature and all Her creations. The phrase ‘From dust to dust’ comes to mind—we should try to incorporate routines, actions, and decisions that lessen our impact on the planet, so that we leave as little behind as possible. My fiancé and I try to support local businesses, support animal rights, and lead a life that limits waste. For example, we’ll use food waste in our small worm farm and vegetable garden; we take our own bags to the grocery store; and reuse glass containers for food storage. I also believe that kindness is a form of sustainability.”—Jean-Marie de Vos, Lead Interior Designer

“As an architectural technologist, I believe that sustainability has to do with choosing long-lasting, local, and reclaimed materials, and designing using the basic principles of architecture, including the avoidance of mechanical means to create comfort. Luxury Frontiers has impressed upon me the importance of the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle!”—Angelique Shippon, Architectural Technologist & Design Assistant