Claire -We're only here for a short period of time!

Claire helps more of us consume consciously by making our dreams of zero waste shopping a reality. Her store in Kuala Lumpur, The Hive, is just one of the many ways she helps encourage people to reduce their impact on the environment.

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Where are you from and what brought you to Kula Lumpur?

I'm originally from France. I moved to New York City when I was 19, lived there for 10 years while doing my undergraduate and grad school in Economy. I then moved to Hong Kong when I was 29 for work. I met my husband, who's from Malaysia, in Hong Kong. We both wanted to take a sabbatical, Kula Lumpur was a good option since it's cheaper to live in a developing country. At that point, I already had my blog and Facebook page about zero-waste. When we moved to Kula Lumpur the opportunity came up to open a zero-waste store. 

What does sustainability mean to you?

Many things, it's the trash you see and the carbon footprint you can't see. It's having the lowest carbon footprint possible, that's the goal.

What are you passionate about?

My first obsession was waste, but now I'm a bit more relaxed about waste. Now I'm really promoting consuming less meat. Everything in our store is vegan, except for the honey we sell. In the beginning, I was obsessed with waste and got angry, which is a bad space to be. You just end up getting angry at everybody. Creating the website helped me work through the anger and frustration and now having the store I'm totally fine. I still see waste everywhere, but I see solutions too, it balances out. Even with everything going on in politics and the commitments of governments to combat climate change, I see positivity with more people interested in zero-waste, it's a growing movement.

How do you consume consciously?

The first thing we did when we moved to Kuala Lumpur was to find an organic vegetable and poultry farmer. Removing as much meat as possible from your diet and then only eating local meat with a low carbon footprint like chicken reduces your carbon footprint a lot. We also don't buy packaged foods, so buying locally helps with that too. The food you buy has a big impact because it's what you consume every day. 

When it comes to food the second most important thing is buying organic, it's a bit more expensive, but you don't pollute the soil, water or use fossil fuels to produce the fertilizers and you don't pollute your body. Then there are other things that you don't have to buy every day like clothes. We buy our clothes and our kid's clothes second-hand. There are so many options to buy second-hand now with social media. You can buy furniture, computers everything. When I shop, I always have a shopping bag and I don't use plastic water bottles.

What else could you do to consume more consciously?

There isn't really anything that I want to change right now. I'd love to have renewable energy in my house, but it's just not happening because we're in Malaysia. We don't have an infrastructure that supports renewable energy. 

When did you become more conscious of your consumption?

I became more conscious of my consumption in2010 when I had my first child. When you become a parent you usually become more responsible. Your disposable income isn't the same anymore and you also start thinking about more meaningful things. Once you have a child, you're not as selfish anymore. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a French lady who was raised in the 80's where we recycled everything, so we were green, but we were recycling green. We weren't zero waste at all. After I had my first child I went from recycling to zero-waste. 

How would more people becoming conscious of their consumption change the world?

Once we start changing the way we consume, everything would change.  Once 7 billion people start changing their consumption, everything will change. Our carbon and methane emissions will be reduced. If we change in time the problems we're going to face like the massive crack in the North Pole and rising sea levels might not happen. At the moment no-one cares about that because right we're focusing on things like terrorist attacks and so on. Don't get me wrong terrorist attacks are terrible, but it doesn't affect as many people as global warming. Global warming is affecting millions of people, it's creating geopolitical problems, and soon we'll have even more refugees. 

What’s the easiest part of consuming consciously?

The easiest part is not seeing things the same way you did before. There are so many shopping malls around here, but I'm not even tempted. Once you start consuming consciously all the shiny things you wanted before won't even be interesting anymore. It's fantastic. 

What’s the hardest part of consuming consciously?  

I have kids so sometimes you have to lose a few battles, you can't fight everything. It's hard to explain to kids that they have to say no to things from the beginning. I've started to let go of that anger a bit now, you can't control everything. 

What are your top 3 practical changes to lower your carbon emissions?

  • Eat less meat, go vegan if you can. If you can't, massively reduce your meat consumption, especially beef.
  • Compost, it reduces the methane emissions from landfills that would have been created. 
  • Buy in bulk and don't buy single-use items

What are the biggest challenges we face today?

The problem right now is political, our leaders don't have a lot of common ground to talk about and deal with climate change. Climate change is the biggest challenge we face today and it will have geopolitical effects. 

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

At the end of the day, we're only here for a short period of time, we're on this beautiful planet that provides fresh air, clean water and soil. One day we're guaranteed turn back to dust, so we'd better make the most of it and not ruin it for everyone else.

What do you do? 

I'm the owner of The Hive, a zero-waste store in Kuala Lumpur. 

Follow The Hive on Facebook and on Instagram @thehivebulkfoods

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Cornelia BlignautComment