The Ranch at Laguna Beach Honored by National Geographic for Sustainability Practices

We talked with Mark Christy, the managing partner of The Ranch at Laguna Beach, one of six U.S. hotels on National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World list.
Photograph courtesy of The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The realities of the global climate crisis can seem overwhelming. Every day, there’s new information about how the environment and human health are being threatened. And the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic has people wondering about possible parallels.

But there are plenty of Orange County residents fighting to make positive change. We highlight that great work here—from green businesses and university researchers to volunteer groups and civil servants. Passionate locals are working together to create a sustainable future; let them inspire you to take action in ways large and small.

Why is sustainability important to you?
As a mantra for myself and my partners, we are trying to leave the world’s campsite cleaner than we found it. From the moment the Prius came out, I was driving one. And we have a platform to do something really cool. We’re looking at every opportunity we have to be a steward of the canyon and the environment and the planet. If it’s doable, we’ll do it.

What are some of the practices you’re most proud of?
The one that has the greatest impact would be the conversion of the entire grounds to reclaimed water. It cost a hell of a lot and was more difficult to engineer than Middle East peace, but it was the right thing to do. We’re saving more than 22 million gallons of potable water a year. Another one I take personally is the elimination of single-use plastics. We can all do it, although convenience seems to trump responsibility in many aspects of our lives. At The Ranch, you don’t get a plastic water bottle on the nightstand; it’s glass. And we take that a step further and grind the glass and repurpose that out on the golf course. We recycled more than 50 tons of glass last year. We have a machine to grind the glass on-site. It’s dancing like Chuck Berry back there, and it can grind it up to whatever coarseness you desire.

Harvest was the first restaurant in Laguna Beach to be certified ocean-friendly. What does that mean to you?
It’s pretty cool to be recognized by Surfrider; they’re a pretty scrutinous group. You don’t want to eat seafood that’s just trashing the environment. You don’t want vegetables that are tainted with pesticides. I don’t. So we do that screening on behalf of our customers and ourselves. I think it’s becoming the norm and will hopefully become the standard in a few years.

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