Claire Sancelot

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Cover Story -

Zero Waste ad­vo­cate and Di­rec­tor of The Hive www.face­book.com/the­hive­bulk­foods / www.face­book.com/ze­roWaste-kuala-lumpur

French-born Claire is an econ­o­mist by trade and spent 10 years in Hong Kong work­ing in sales and mar­ket­ing. She moved to Kuala Lumpur with her Malaysian hus­band and three daugh­ters in 2015 and im­me­di­ately set her sights on liv­ing the zero waste life she had cham­pi­oned in Hong Kong where she was famed for her one-woman green move­ment. Her zero waste path be­gan when her old­est daugh­ter was born and she re­alised that the big­gest threat to this gen­er­a­tion is climate change.

Liv­ing by the 5 Rs is a good start, as Claire points out: “Refuse, Reduce, Re­use, Re­cy­cle and Rot (com­post) and in this or­der. Not every­thing can be re­cy­cled and some things re­quire a lot of en­ergy to be re­cy­cled.the best is to refuse what is dis­pos­able and re­place them with re­us­able prod­ucts like your own bot­tle for wa­ter and cof­fee. And adults don’t need to use straws!”

Malaysia still has a very long way to go, but all it takes is com­mit­ment. “It’s ac­tu­ally easy to be zero waste in Malaysia if you’re com­mit­ted. Even bring­ing your own con­tain­ers to food stalls and the wet market is a start,” re­marked Claire.

Be­ing ‘green’ these days can seem al­most modish. When asked how she would ad­vise peo­ple to change how they con­sume, she said, “Be­ing ‘green’ is a lifestyle. You feel bet­ter when you ad­here to your true val­ues, con­sume less and con­sume qual­ity over quan­tity. It can take years to change from be­ing a su­per con­sumer to be­com­ing a con­scious one, but the ben­e­fits are worth it and you be­come more free from ma­te­ri­al­ism.”

Be­sides be­ing an im­por­tant pro­po­nent of the Zero Waste move­ment, Claire’s pride and joy is The Hive in Bangsar. The co-op is an in­di­vid­u­ally-owned busi­ness deal­ing with lo­cal pro­duc­ers and of­fer­ing eth­i­cally sourced goods; but it’s still a for­eign no­tion in this part of the world. Opened in Oc­to­ber last year, Claire sources fresh pro­duce from lo­cal or­ganic farm­ers while clean­ing prod­ucts, toi­letries and jams are made in Kuala Lumpur, mostly by women op­er­at­ing small home busi­nesses.

Dry goods are of­fered at bulk prices, and are cheaper than the or­ganic sec­tion of the su­per­mar­ket. This is ex­actly what a co-op is: a place where you can get sus­tain­able goods at eco­nom­i­cal prices. The Hive also has pre-loved clothes, shoes and bags be­cause the fash­ion in­dus­try is one of the worst cul­prits when it comes to en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, es­pe­cially in this age of fast fash­ion.

Ed­i­ble gar­dens, com­post­ing, healthy eating workshops, work­ing with Orang Asli or­ganic farms and even hav­ing classes teach­ing you how to make your own nat­u­ral beauty prod­ucts – all this builds a com­mu­nity of like-minded peo­ple at The Hive who want to make a change. To end, Claire had this to say, “Small changes go a long way. Start with ba­sic in­vest­ments like a good wa­ter fil­ter. Refuse plas­tic bot­tles, bring your own con­tain­ers for take­away, al­ways have shop­ping bags and your own lunch box for the of­fice. All this is cheaper, health­ier and zero waste!”

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