Regeneration Starts with Us
Evan Upchurch | March 9th, 2021
For Habitas Tulum, Olmo Torres-Talamante is like Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket: a living, breathing conscious in a world full of obstacles. As the hotel’s Sustainability and Regenerative Director, his profound academic knowledge and decades of hands-on experience with complex environmental initiatives help Habitas take concrete steps in the right direction, ensuring a minimal ecological footprint across logistics and operations.
Olmo’s journey into the world of sustainability began in his youth, with nature as an integral part of his life. His innate love for living things led him to study Biology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and he went on to complete a prestigious Master’s degree in the field. During his studies, Olmo began exploring and studying the Riviera Maya’s dark, enchanting cenotes. He quickly fell in love with the region. Not long after, he would make Tulum his permanent home.
In 2007, Olmo co-founded RAZONTURA, a non-profit organization focused on sustainable and regenerative development. He has also participated in international productions such as BBC Wonders of Life. “Practicing sustainability is no longer enough. Today, as a society, we have an environmental debt to pay. Beyond zero impact, we must now talk about regenerating what’s been neglected and destroyed.” His voice did not go unheard.
Soon enough, Olmo began working as a consultant. “As one of the town’s only biologists, I became a reference for people, which led me to meet some of Tulum’s key players in the private sector, including Eduardo Castillo of Habitas.” Olmo began collaborating with the hotel and leading initiatives in the community. The fusion of like-minded individuals turned into a healthy working relationship. In 2019, his role was consolidated as Sustainability and Regenerative Director.
With Olmo’s arrival to the team, Habitas implemented an environmental management and corporate social responsibility system that follows the highest level of ecotourism practices throughout the world, such as Earth Check methodology and the S distinctive of SECTUR in Mexico. Through this initiative, Habitas is able to develop performance measures, generate performance measures (KPIs), and use them to create work plans with ambitious goals that yield greater positive impacts.
As Habitas’ environmental director, Olmo’s holistic approach is designed from top-down to bottom-up. He works with owners and management to ensure financial commitment and accountability and also trains and accompanies staff members across departments in the newly implemented system. “Whether it is the finances of organic soap or the cultural use of cleaning products, there are so many aspects to consider. It’s about gradual change. Nothing can happen overnight.”
Since officially joining the Habitas team, one of Olmo’s most significant achievements has been restructuring the hotel’s waste management and recycling program. In addition to training for each department, Olmo ensures the proper treatment of organic and inorganic waste. Organic waste is diverted to a local compost organization, and recyclables are reintegrated into the circular economy through certified companies.
It’s about gradual change. Nothing can happen overnight.
Beyond logistics, Habitas works diligently to instill meaningful values in the hotel’s social culture. “Regeneration starts with us. Our love for the Earth is something that we cultivate inside of the company, and it’s reflected in everything that we do.” For example, special events are carbon-neutral and are used as platforms to encourage guests and participants to off-set their footprint – it’s regeneration in action.
Habitas has founded numerous projects in the local communities, such as the Plastic Hunter’s Initiative and the MARTierra Foundation, a local non-profit brought together by the hotel’s co-founders. Olmo oversees the logistical direction and works closely with local communities. “In several cases, Habitas took the first steps, and then the initiatives grew and took on a life of their own. People want beautiful things to happen. We prefer to foment partnerships instead of strictly taking on a leadership position.”
Over time, Olmo has become a role model for the hotel’s collaborators. He sees his managerial position as one rooted in love and education rather than ego and scolds. “It’s about forging friendships. Sometimes people stop me in the hallways and ask me questions about how to implement certain things in their own homes.” But Olmo knows his impact can stretch even farther.
“My goal is to be a catalyst for good in Tulum by helping develop its innovation ecosystem and impact investment model. I want to help transform Habitas into a B-corporation and use it as a showroom for other companies in the area. We can’t wait for governments to act.”
Olmo is an optimistic realist. He knows the challenges Habitas and the world face but continues to use his knowledge and enthusiasm to combat them. It is people like him who will give this world a fighting chance. Maybe it’s time we regenerate our thoughts.