KLEFF: Why and how did you start the Zero Waste lifestyle?
CL: I started in 2010, when my first child was born. I was already recycling during that time, but the notion of Refuse-Reduce-Reuse did not exist in my life. I lived in Manhattan for 10 years from 1995 to 2005, and then in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2015. The immense consumeristic nature of the people in both countries is a societal norm hence I was raised to be a consumer. When my first child was born, I became more conscious of my consumption patterns and started to live a zero waste life. With the realisation that my own baby creates so much waste, my partner and I questioned “what would happen if every baby on the planet was producing the same amount on a daily basis?”
KLEFF: What was the reaction of your family to this?
CL: We took it slow – at the time it was just my partner, the dog and the new born baby, so it was quite easy. Every few days we would replace a disposable by a reusable. Disposable diapers became cloth diapers, disposable baby wipes became washable baby wipes, paper napkins became cloth napkins. We gave away our Nespresso coffee machine and got a French Press and a Bialetti. It became like a game – less mess to clean, less money spent on things we did not need.
KLEFF: What are some of the challenges you face while advocating for a greener and more sustainable lifestyle? How do you overcome such challenges?
CL: There are not too many challenges. Its 2017, we have progressed to the point that people have transitioned to become conscious of their consumption habits and is finding alternatives to break the heavily-dependent consumerism nature.
We do face some challenges when it comes to implementing our programs. Our compost program at The Hive encourages clients to bring their food waste on a daily basis, unfortunately, the neighbours complained to DBKL and we had to shut down the program. Composting is the easiest and most effective way to curb our methane emission.
KLEFF: How do you work with the local urban community here in promoting a Zero Waste lifestyle?
CL: It has been an amazing experience. We work with local organic farmers, an Orang Asli organic farm, plenty of local producers who produce for The Hive’s organic personal care products (shampoo, soap, etc), jams, condiments, and so on – all of those are packaging-free. They have established a system to supply the products in large containers, together with a reuse system where disposable packaging does not exist. This system ran successfully to the extent that even the sceptics now love it because they see the financial benefits.
KLEFF: Tell us about The Hive and what inspired you to initiate the business? How has the reception been so far?
CL: I always wanted a shop similar to this one next to my house, so out of need I just created it 😉
KLEFF: What will you be part of in this year’s 10th anniversary of the Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival?
CL: I am so grateful to be part of the Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival. I will be a speaker in a half day forum call “Women’s Leadership in Sustainability”. The forum will take place on Tuesday, 24th October at the Black Box, Publika. I hope to share with the participants on how a lifestyle preference can be morphed in to a sustainable business. I hope to inspire the participants to look at the potentials women possess to live a green lifestyle that can support your economic needs. I hope the public will join me in this forum. I am definitely looking forward to it 🙂
KLEFF: If you can describe yourself in three words, what would it be?
CL: Optimistic, compassionate, and relentless
Claire Sancelot will be speaking at the Women’s Leadership in Sustainability Forum on 23rd October (Tuesday) 2017 from 1 pm to 6 pm at the Black Box. Registered participants will receive special goodies from The Body Shop Malaysia. Among the other speakers are Serina Hijjas, Datin Mina Cheah and Pelf Nyok Chen. To register for this forum, refer to the flier below.