September 11th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Former fast-food exec goes green

By The Next List staff, CNN

(CNN) - Juan Sostheim is a pioneer in scalable, sustainable living. As founder of Rancho Margot, a luxury eco-tourist resort, educational facility and organic farm in Costa Rica, he’s demonstrating that “living off the grid” is not only possible but practical for large-scale communities.

Working with a staff of about 45 people and some 10 to 15 rotating volunteers, Sostheim produces all the food for the resort on the premises. He heats the water - including that for the massive hot tub with swim up tiki bar - by composting; he fuels their kitchen with methane gas from cows and pigs; he generates his own electricity; and he creates bio-fuels.


Rancho Margot began nine years ago when Sostheim, a former Burger King executive turned industrial chemical magnate, bought a cow pasture in what once was a Costa Rican rain forest. Concerned about environmental issues and food security in developing nations, his goal was to create a profitable resort dedicated to sustainability. Now he hopes to see Rancho Margot transition into a thriving, teaching community - one that still caters to tourists, but does not depend on them in full. To this end, he is planning a residential community where about 100 families can live and work on the ranch. By collaborating with the local population, Sostheim hopes to create a prosperous and fully integrated community able to sustain itself for generations.

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