KL Lifestyle: Featuring Claire Sancelot

Claire Sancelot’s love for the environment started when she was a young girl in France. Her parents instilled the habit of recycling from a tender age and this has since grown into a zero waste practice with emphasis on refuse and reuse. Today, Claire is the proud owner of The Hive Bulk Foods, Southeast Asia’s first Zero Waste lifestyle store. Besides promoting a sustainable way of living, through the Hive, Claire collaborates with local farmers and producers to bring fresh, organic vegetables to consumers. This high-spirited lady is also notable for her environmental efforts, earning her a United Nations Award in 2017. She joined hands with likeminded eco-warriors in the Tak Nak Straw and The Green Guerrilla movements to inspire and educate the Malaysian community about sustainability and how easy it is to get started.

How long have you lived in Malaysia?
I have lived in Malaysia with my family, for four and a half years now.

What was your initial impression of Malaysia?
My husband is Malaysian so the country isn’t foreign to me. I have travelled here many times over the years. Just to give you some background, I’m French and at 19 years old, I moved to New York city. I lived there for 10 years and later, moved to Hong Kong and lived there for another decade. I met my Malaysian husband in Hong Kong and we would travel here about once a year for holiday. Then, longing for a break from the hectic life in Hong Kong, we decided to uproot and move permanently to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September 2015.

What was the biggest challenge faced moving here?
I didn’t face any challenges moving here. I think that the Malaysian lifestyle is very chill and the people are very relaxed and friendly. I truly appreciate and love the quality of life here in Malaysia. First of all, we have sunshine every day and lovely temperature. I also love the access to greenery at our fingertips and how we can eat fresh vegetables everyday at an affordable cost compared to Europe where the price tag is premium. Here, even those from lower income families can enjoy fresh meals.

If you have travelled domestically, tell us about your favourite vacation.
I have three young kids, so my favourite local destination is hands down, Club Med Cherating. It’s a family-friendly destination. The kids will be occupied with the amazing activities arranged while parents can indulge in the free flow of alcohol, yoga, trapeze, jungle hiking and sailing to name a few. There’s something for everyone to enjoy there.

What is your favourite local dish?
I could eat any dough-made dish — in the West I enjoyed bread, pasta and the works. Here, I love anything made from glutinous rice, including desserts. You give me anything with glutinous rice or made from rice dough like noodles, I would be so happy.

What are your thoughts on the Covid-19 virus situation?
This pandemic is a disaster that is affecting many because it threatens their livelihood. In fact, the world is already taking a financial and economic hit during this situation, making things difficult for a lot of people, including my employees and myself. However, I’m hoping that this serves as a wakeup call for the entire planet that we need to slow down. Our planet needs to take a break. The silver lining from this situation is that Earth is healing. The carbon emissions are significantly lower right now and that’s necessary.

Is it going to stay this way?
I don’t think so but we have to slow down our carbon emission because it’s a matter of our survival as well.

In light of the Restricted Movement Order (RMO), how is your day like at home?
I have three kids at home and they’re still being schooled from home. To be honest, we’re still getting used to it because it’s only day four of home-schooling. So, we’re trying to get into a routine. We start the day at 8.30am. Each kid has either a computer or tablet in front of them and they start with Math, French and English subjects. It’s a solid six hours of studying, from 8.30am to 2.30pm including recess. It’s quite challenging because my husband and I are working from home. It’s challenging, but it allows us to be together. We’re very privileged that we have our own mini garden so the kids can play on their own and everyone has their own private space. My heart is with the parents who have to take care of young kids or teenagers and have to work at the same time — it’s not easy. These are difficult times and I feel there should be family talks to educate children about the current situation and the do’s and don’ts.