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!”