It’s been a while! Over the past couple of days, I’ve been working on going zero waste bit by bit. I haven’t gone out for fast food in the past month and when I do go out to restaurants with my family, I always bring a container for the leftovers, so we don’t need to use the Styrofoam boxes they would usually give us.

As for meal wise, I’m still struggling a little bit. It’s hard to adapt because I can’t get my entire family on board; however, my mom has been trying her best to make meals for me so that it creates minimum waste. My mentor has been a great help even though she is really busy with her own personal life as well. She sent me a traditional meal with Chinese culture that could be adapted to zero waste and called me to walk me through it. The dish is called bianmian, translated means flour meal. The meal consists of solely flour and a variety of vegetables (and meat if you wanted!). The flour I bought was in a paper bag so it could be recycled, and I bought my vegetables with a reusable produce bag to eliminate waste. The concept behind this meal is to take protein and nutrients from all different food groups and then literally throw it in a pot. It’s easy and although it looks like mashed potatoes in a bowl with leaves, it tastes very delicious with some black pepper (which I bought and ground myself).

Speaking of my mentor, she originally said she couldn’t help me much but shes personally made time to help me out with my in-depth journey. I met at her house the other day and I showed up with a list of questions to ask her. I wanted this meeting to be more talking rather than logistics so I could understand the concept a little better.

*this meeting has been translated from Mandarin to English*

E: Although you are not zero waste, you’ve had what is arguably the most difficult part of zero waste down, would you ever consider going zero waste?

Mrs. Fang: My lifestyle food aside is heavily modern based. I’ve adapted to using things such as one-time use plastics and although I know they’re not good for the environment, with my family status they help me get through my day to day life. Right now, I wouldn’t consider going zero waste, but I would think to do it in the future once my kids are off to post-secondary and my life is a little more mellow.

E: After shopping for the materials for a recipe, I found that it can be hard and frustrating, does this ever lower your motivation to continue with the food lifestyle your carrying out?

Mrs Fang: With our current industry, it’s usually not too difficult to find the things I need for a meal. Food plan is more than choosing a recipe. It’s choosing a recipe to fit your needs, the people your feeding needs, and mother nature’s needs. Certain vegetables grow at certain times and through experience, I’ve learned when what vegetables are used. For example, I use bok choi a lot in the winter.

E: I know you’ve had some gardening and composting background, what do you recommend for someone who’s never composted before?

Mrs Fang: If you had more time, I would say start a garden! This motivates you to compost more. Because I live in an apartment, I freeze my compost, so it doesn’t start to smell. I bring my compost to a farmers market and there’s usually somewhere there where you can put it and others will bring it back to their gardens. Plus, while at the farmers market you can do some grocery shopping!

The difference between a shooting question and a fishing question is that a shooting question is the base level of a question, the original question. The fishing question breaks the question apart and digs deep. Through this process, I found that I shoot questions more than I fish for questions. I think this is because I like to get things moving and when I shoot questions it gives me more idea of a structure. In the future, I think fishing for questions will help me greatly and I will be sure to do more of it during my next meeting with my mentor. However, my shooting questions also broaden the umbrella, so I still get important and helpful information.

As time passes, I am still getting weekly emails from the goingzerowaste blog by Kathryn! It’s given me insight on some parts of zero waste such as a compostable phone case!

I learned a lot more about Mrs. Fang and food over the past week and next week I’m going to start to attack other parts of the zero-waste lifestyle.