How much waste do you produce everyday? If you started keeping track of the waste you generate daily, and kept the record going for a week, you’ll be surprised at how much waste you build up as a single person.

An article that recently appeared in Malaysian newspaper, The Star, even states that Malaysia is 8th in the world for mismanaged plastic waste. Sadly, a lot of the country’s plastic waste is being dumped in landfills and oceans, posing a threat to marine life.

While drastic measures need to be implemented to save the environment from further deterioration, everyone can do their bit to help. If everyone were to follow a few simple guidelines, together, we can play a big role in cutting down the garbage we produce daily. Just ask Claire Sancelot and she’ll tell you how.

Born and raised in France to parents who made recycling ‘cool’, Claire Sancelot grew up with an environmentally conscious mindset. Determined to make a change, Claire adopted a zero waste lifestyle in 2010 and started the #zerowastemovement.

She also established Malaysia’s first zero waste bulk grocery store called The Hive, after realising the lack of planet-friendly consumer products. What separates it from other supermarkets, is that most of their products are locally-sourced from suppliers who adhere to The Hive’s principles of zero waste, and comes with no packaging. Located in Bangsar, The Hive sells more than 300 organic whole foods. You’ll also find a wide range of everyday lifestyle products such as skincare, bamboo tumblers, and reusable sanitary pads that are a big hit among female shoppers.

Fast forward a few years, and The Hive is the most successful grocery store of its kind in Kuala Lumpur. Claire’s even been recognised by the United Nations for her work in developing the sustainable lifestyle brand. For this month’s Travel Talk, we speak to the zero waste queen herself, to find out how we can reduce our carbon footprint when travelling.

On selecting the correct destination

Travelling, be it for leisure or for work, is very much a part of the busy entrepreneur’s life, and doing a little research on where she lands goes a long way in helping her prepare for the journey and her stay. “For our last family holiday, we selected an eco-friendly resort in the Philippines. The island has banned all plastic usage, and it was sheer joy to be in a place that was adopting the zero waste lifestyle.”

Fly while caring for the environment

Carbon emissions from airplanes aren’t eco-friendly. However, even though air travel is unavoidable, Claire assures us that you can still do your bit while flying high. “On airplanes, always carry your own bottles, so the staff can refill it anytime you want without the constant use of plastic cups. If you don’t have your own meals packed, ask for a vegan or vegetarian meal. Meat on aircrafts is of the cheapest quality, often pumped with hormones and antibiotics to increase its shelf life. On a broader scale, livestock production in carbon emissions is equal to all the transportation in the world, so just cutting out meat can slow down the melting of icebergs, quite simply put.”

Luggage must-haves with the zero waste philosophy

“To end the battle of disposable plastic containers, a tumbler, metal straw, and spoon are great for starters,” says Claire. She also advocates keeping a handkerchief handy to avoid the overuse of paper napkins.

“At The Hive, we also have bamboo toothbrushes and bamboo swabs. Using eco-friendly products in your vanity case also contributes greatly to reducing plastic waste. Carrying unpackaged handmade soap that can double up as a shampoo is also a good add-on to your toiletries kit.”

“For my fellow women travellers, switch over to reusable sanitary pads. They are easy to maintain, soft to use, and are not bulky, occupying little space in your luggage.” Another must-have Claire recommends is a folding cloth bag you can take with you while on a shopping spree, eliminating the need to ask for plastic bags.

À la carte all the way

Commercialised kitchens, especially kitchens at resorts, often offer buffets as it’s a faster way to finish service and prepare for the next meal. “As a family, we never do a buffet meal, only à la carte. Buffets push you to eat way too much and leads to massive food waste that is disposed off in a garbage dump. Individually-ordered meals give you the priority to choose your own food, comes in a healthier smaller portion, and you are most likely to finish your plate.”

Good for your pocket, great for the planet

While most people believe that leading a zero waste lifestyle often means a more expensive lifestyle, Claire insists that these are just myths. A waste-free lifestyle instils in you the ability to reuse, and if you buy, you often give privilege to quality over quantity, so your products will last longer.

The unnecessary use of plastic, increasing food wastage, and surging carbon footprints are becoming a serious global concern. While not everyone is geared to become an eco-warrior, we urge you, our readers, to become environmentally-conscious and to do your bit to save Mother Earth by utilising our resources with care. Follow TheHiveBulkFoods on Instagram for more on how you can be a part of the #zerowastemovement.

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