With Malaysia’s prevalent tapao practices, it’s hard to imagine ourselves quitting plastic bags anytime soon. Even when major supermarkets have started charging additional costs for a plastic bag, we don’t seem to mind.
It’s sad to see how disinterested the public is in environmental issues. Especially when the UN governmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just warned that there are only 11 years left to address climate change. If left untreated, scenes from the movie Day after Tomorrow may very well come alive.
Fortunately for us, green warriors like Claire Sancelot, Lim Su Mei and Beatrice Yong and Show-Lyn Low couldn’t bear to just sit down and watch. They have been working hard to become the catalysts for sustainable living in Malaysia and shared with us what they are doing to save Mother Earth.
Claire Sancelot of The Hive
French girl Claire Sancelot first started going zero waste in Hong Kong in 2010 when she had her first child. Realizing how many nappies her baby makes, she became more conscious about the waste she is contributing. Her determination did not waver when she moved to Malaysia. Instead she started The Hive to offer solutions for sustainable living.
The Hive is a co-operative where customers can shop for local and imported food items, soaps, handicraft and even cosmetics. The upshot is that they all come package-free! Fewer packages mean fewer waste and that’s exactly what we want. By going zero waste, we can conserve Earth’s resources, minimize pollution and subsequently reduce climate impact.
Claire says that living sustainably in Malaysia is actually much easier than we think. On top of the conveniences The Hive has brought to us, she adds “You have the space to do your compost and also a lot of wet markets to get your fruits and veggies plastic free!” More insights from our interview with her, below.
When did you start being conscious about living green?
I was raised in the 80’s by very eco-conscious parents. It was them who put the green gene in me. They are the ones who first taught me and my siblings to recycle and we have been doing it since we were 5 years old.
Seeing how your parents influenced you so deeply, what do you think is the parent’s role in educating children about living green?
It is vital for this generation’s children to consume sustainably if we still want to have a pleasant way of living in 2050. We have to teach them to refuse plastic, eat less meat and consume more local plant produces by being a role model ourselves first.
What are your children’s views on living green?
They are eco kids. If we go to the beach, they would suggest we do beach cleaning. In quotidian, they refuse the usage of anything that is not eco-friendly like plastic balloons, plastic cutlery and cups.
Was it difficult for you to go green in Malaysia where sustainable living is not widely practiced?
Actually, it wasn’t difficult for me at all. In fact, I find it easy to be green in Malaysia. You have the space to do your compost and also a lot of wet markets to get your fruits and veggies plastic-free!
What do you think needs to be changed in order for more Malaysians to practice this lifestyle?
There needs to be more public education in this matter. I also think that there should be more water fountains over the country to tackle the problem of plastic bottles.
Since you are the pioneer of zero waste, can you share with us some tips for people who are starting to live sustainably?
I would say take it easy and have fun doing it. Try to remove one disposable item at a time and replace it with something reusable. For instance, you can ditch one plastic bag and replace it with a reusable shopping bag. Or maybe stop using plastic bottles and opt for a reusable water bottle instead.
To make green living more convenient and accessible for everyone, can we also know what are your essential products to make green living more convenient and accessible?
Bulk bags to get your food package free. No need to be anything fancy, even an old ziplock will do. A water bottle which you can refill and bring along everywhere. Eat less meat which can be done instantly. Refuse all single use plastic and take food containers with you for takeout foods. Ladies can also go the extra mile by replacing disposables with washable sanitary pads or menstrual cups.