Your insider’s guide to Hong Kong

Leading by Example

Torsten van Dullemen, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s General Manager, practices what he preaches on sustainability 

Photo: Nic Gaunt

What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means cultivation and protection of what is important.

Why is it important?
Without sustainability, one day it will all be gone. We have to learn to progress without destroying. Sustainability has to do with our place in the universe. It’s the price that we put on fresh air and the price that we put on the environment.

What is the hardest thing about running a sustainable operation?
In a 5-star hotel, we create luxury in abundance. At home, no one washes the towels and sheets every day. At home, no one leaves the air-conditioning running when they are out, but in a hotel people kind of expect this. We are slowly trying to change the mindset that luxury is not about abundance.
We are dependent on business suppliers, so we have to take the time to find like-minded partners and suppliers who show clear evidence they engage in sustainable business practices. This goes for what we buy, what we use and what we do. We have to use a team approach that is committed to sustainability. It’s a lot of work, but we believe that it will pay off in the end.

How do you lead a sustainable lifestyle at home?
I am lucky that my wife is very much on top of this. We are practically vegetarian at home. We try to avoid using chemicals. We always use healthy and organic toothpaste and shampoo. For the kitchen and the washing machine we use baking soda and vinegar. We try to avoid throwing a lot of things away. We donate old clothes to charity. We make our own compost and grow our own herbs. We try to avoid plastic packaging. We do not own a car, we use public transport, or we walk.

How do you look after yourself physically and mentally?
Being sustainable also means leading a healthy lifestyle. I run, swim and cycle regularly, and compete in triathlons. Exercise is great for physical and mental health.

Torsten van Dullemen


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