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Tuning Into the Heart of Earth Month: Stories of Passion and Purpose from our Sustainability Champions

Get to know some of the talented and inspiring leaders across our sanctuaries as they share what fuels their love for the planet.

Published on: April 19, 2024
Chef Ginger Pierce

At 1 Hotels, our commitment to safeguarding the Earth is at the heart of everything we do. We weave care for people and the planet into the very fabric of our identity. Every step of our journey is rooted in sustainability—from the thoughtful architecture of our buildings to the locally sourced ingredients in our dishes. However, our vision doesn’t stop at our doors. We are passionate about empowering not just our guests but also our team members to become stewards of the environment, and each sanctuary has a Sustainability Champion, a team member who volunteers to provide sustainability training and drive new initiatives across the property.

In honor of Earth Month, we’re speaking to some of our Champions including Chef Ginger Pierce in West Hollywood, Christopher Manalo in Toronto, and Lauren Yanoff-Shapiro in Central Park about the inspirational work they’re doing. Their efforts include everything from innovative waste reduction systems and sustainability-focused guest tours to comprehensive staff training programs, all aimed at fostering environmental stewardship. Together, we leverage our hotels as platforms for change, motivating our community and teams to engage, collaborate, and advance our core mission: to do all the good we can.


Why did you become a sustainability champion?

The sustainability component of 1 Hotels is what brought me to the brand and has been a big part of why I have stayed for almost 9 years.  The impact food systems have on the environment and our communities has always been immensely important to me.  Early in my career, I made a commitment to only work at places that match my ethos, and 1 Hotel was a message I could get behind.  I had concerns entering the hotel world, leaving the farm to table restaurant scene I inhabited for so many years. I knew hotels to be real contributors to waste and pollution.  From the beginning at Central Park, we were able to build many unique systems that allowed for reductions in both production and packaging waste.  It was thrilling to be surrounded by many like-minded folks pushing to explore innovative ways to reduce our carbon impact.  As our champions program developed over the years, it has been a joy to share that commitment and passion with others.  I love to see the impact we make in our operational systems, buying choices and community outreach.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than making a difference.

Why do you believe sustainability is crucial, both personally and within the context of 1 Hotel?

The feeling that nature creates is unparalleled.  Wind rustling through the trees, bees buzzing about, the sun on your skin, the smell of flowers, waves crashing in the distance, the calm of a forest, rivers running across rocks.  We promote and celebrate nature in our biophilic design and our beautiful green spaces.  Nature is finite and we have to make moves to protect it.  We also need to think about the impact our decisions have on our global communities. There are many people in the world without potable water, many added areas that will experience water scarcity very soon.  There are cities, states and countries that are being slowly flooded as sea levels rise, likely to be underwater in a matter of years.  There are places that are becoming uninhabitably hot.  Entire species and native plants are disappearing from existence.  It is my belief that reducing waste, building local food systems and shifting our culture of convenience has to be a central focus for all of us in business and our personal lives.  If we hope to preserve nature and support our global communities for years to come, we have to continue bringing about positive change. 

Can you describe some of the specific ways you action change and promote sustainability in your role?

Training and empowering the team is the most important way to keep driving change.  When you get others involved, the impact is exponential.  We have some really amazing sustainability advocates at West Hollywood, especially in the stewarding department.  Alberto Lopez has been a top advocate for us, not only assisting in the recording of waste separation, but doing tons of outreach and coming up with so many great ideas to improve our systems.  Fostering an environment of creative and critical thinking and problem solving has endless benefits and I work to encourage this in all aspects of our operation.  I also love our ‘Pay it Forward’ programming and work hard to get our teams involved and empower my sous chefs to take the lead on initiating.  It is so amazing to connect to our local community and we have had so many great events helping many causes.  Also diligence and consistency is key.  Much of the diversion and waste management requires constant training, retraining, and oversight.  Sharing the results through our reports has been very helpful in motivating the team and letting them know our areas of opportunity.   

Reflecting on your experiences, what achievements, or initiatives in sustainability at 1 Hotel are you most proud of?

In the early days at 1 Hotel Central, we looked really hard to identify any opportunities to eliminate unnecessary waste.  We created many systems especially in places like carryout and in room dining that used reusable items and eliminated the standard disposable ones.  We also built banquet menus that featured a lot of individual exacted portioning that helped reduce food waste and overages.  We tracked overages and worked to continuously adjust our numbers.  We worked with our vendors to push for less packaging on anything we received.  At 1 West Hollywood we have made many positive updates to eliminate single use items. We implemented a reusable jar program that transitioned our grab and go food offering to reusable jars.  Many of our amenities like our house made trail mix are also packed into these reusable jars.  We transitioned our sandwiches to be wrapped in compostable paper rather than packed in bio-plastics, an item not compostable in our waste stream.  We introduced a liner-less organic waste system that allows for storage of our compost without the added plastic waste of liners.  We also transitioned our oat and almond milk to Goodmylk which is a bulk product that eliminates the packaging.  This will save 625lbs tetra-pack waste annually.  I am proud to have been an early champion and advocate of local farms, regenerative farms and many restorative projects like the billion oyster project. 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and vision for advancing sustainability within 1 Hotel and beyond?

At 1 Hotels I think we should keep pushing for innovation and new ideas throughout our operations.  As we continue to grow, our choices will be even more impactful, for better or worse.  Although it’s highly aspirational, I would love to see a time where no disposable items are given in any grab and go or mini-bar.  This will require outside of the box thinking and a need for durable reusable materials.  As many items that are marked recyclable actually have very low rates of recyclability and will ultimately end up in the landfill, the goal should be eliminating the need and circumstances that require single use items.  It would also be amazing if there were more elements of renewable energy inherent to our new builds, like solar panels and wind turbine walls. A goal should be having a source of renewable energy at each of our properties. Water consumption should be a major consideration when choosing products or ingredients.  Many crops and livestock require so much water for cultivation and we should factor water consumption into our menu engineering choices. It would be amazing if there were grey water and rainwater harvesting systems on every property. We should support our local business, especially small regenerative farming efforts.  I am hopeful for our future and I look forward to the collective good we can do as an evolving brand!


Tell us about your role with 1 Hotels.

My role is the Director of Purchasing here at 1 Hotel Toronto including being a sustainability champion for the property. I oversee the Purchasing department from sourcing, buying, and facilitating the entire purchasing process from start to finish. As a sustainability champion, my role involves being a resource for the property regarding sustainability from our KPIs, diversion data, consumption data, and quantifying all our sustainability achievements here on property.

What inspired you to join 1 Hotel as a sustainability champion?

Coming from the Housekeeping and Stewarding department, I witnessed a lot of waste. I was inspired to take on this role because I wanted to make an impact and be a part of something that made a difference. Training and educating the team to become more sustainable not only on property, but also in their personal lives has been very fulfilling since I have worked here at 1 Hotels.

How do you encourage and motivate others to adopt sustainable practices?

I find that leading by example is the most effective way to motivate others to adopt sustainable practices. When the team sees leaders following the sustainable practices we have in place and creating an environment where it is normal to follow these practices, they will follow suit. Additionally, showcasing our achievements and differences we have made since we started is a great way to motivate the team since they can visually see the impact.

Can you share a specific example of a successful sustainability initiative you've led or been a part of?

One of the sustainability initiatives that I have been a part of was curating a Sustainability Tour on property. The tour allows guests to experience the intention of our design and how many of the materials selected were given a “second life”. From the specific artist and suppliers who created the pieces, to where the materials are derived from, the guest is immersed with sustainability knowledge of our property. The guests also experience zero-waste cocktails and desserts made on-site along with the story that goes behind it.

How do you stay updated on the latest developments and innovations in sustainability practices?

There are a few ways that I stay updated on the latest developments and innovations in sustainability. Whether it would be through social media, news or what other properties are doing for their sustainability initiatives.

What challenges have you faced in promoting sustainability within the hotel, and how have you overcome them?

The challenge we face in promoting sustainability is being consistent in our waste management practices. For example, ensuring the team is properly sorting the waste in the correct waste streams when disposing the material. The service industry is very fast paced and it is difficult to have consistency across all venues and kitchens to not have any contamination in the waste bins.  However, we have decided to complete more frequent waste audits to combat this issue and address it with kitchens and venues struggling to sort the waste properly. Although we still find minimal contaminants, it has been improving and educating the team has been really well received.


Tell us about your role with 1 Hotels and which property you’re at.

I have been at 1 Hotel Central Park since Sept. 2015 and am currently Director of Sales & Marketing.

In what ways do you collaborate with other departments or team members to integrate sustainability into various aspects of hotel operations?

We host quarterly sustainability meetings where we talk through new ideas, thoughts, and challenges. The hotel has a sustainability committee, but we open this meeting up to all team members as we find that when more people are involved, more ideas are shared.

How do you measure the impact of your sustainability efforts?

We work with Foodprint Group to track our waste diversion and Con-Serve to track our energy and water resources. We also have a sustainability action plan created by our VP of Sustainability where hotels input key updates each month. This is a great way to track things like team members and guest engagement. At the end of the year it is amazing to see what all of our hotels have accomplished!

Have you encountered any resistance or skepticism regarding sustainability initiatives, and how do you address it?

One of my favorite things about 1 Hotels is the commitment to our mission of sustainability. It is normal to have resistance, but we’re lucky to have real examples and stories we can share with clients and guests. Educating the team through in person and online training has been very helpful.

How do you balance the need for sustainability with other operational priorities and constraints?

We are lucky that sustainability is a priority for our company. We are encouraged to push ideas and make changes. The only constraints I have seen were due to the age of a building or layout of facilities.

What advice would you give to others who are passionate about sustainability and want to make a difference in their workplace or community?

Start small, little things make a difference. It is really important to talk about sustainability to others in and out of your hotel. I have gotten great support and ideas from family and friends.

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