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Saturday, 28 April 2012 00:00

Xiao Ya Xian's Tips on 'Eating 80% Full' for A Wise Living

Written by  By Lau Chew Leng, Selangor/ Translated by Chai Lee Lian

Xiao Ya Xian practices the concept of "80% full" in her everyday life. She carefully plans the volume of food required by her family. In this way, she can also save on oil, gas and time.【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】

Deeply moved by the "save a handful of rice for the needy" story of the Nargis Cyclone victims in Myanmar, Xiao Ya Xian started to adopt simplicity and thriftiness in her daily living. She has also influenced her family to practise the concept of "eating 80% full".


Tzu Chi volunteer, Xiao Ya Xian was in the kitchen skillfully stir-frying food in the wok. The aroma of the dishes cooked, coupled with the smoke-filled surrounding and cooking noise, permeated throughout the kitchen.

While frying and wiping off her sweat, Ya Xian said, "A little carrot, a little pepper, a little cauliflower... that's our simple dinner!" Colorful and nutritionally-balanced dishes were simply served on the table. Ya Xian's family of five spends less than RM150/- a week on food instead of RM250/- previously. How does Ya Xian do that?

To implement savings in her daily life, Ya Xian cleverly selects proper and nutritious food to feed her family, including making fruit juices for her family each morning to keep them healthy.

A handful of rice in Myanmar has taught me about benevolence

With a compassionate heart, giving a handful of rice can help to relieve others. Even in poverty, the thought of allowing the whole world to be fed must exist. After watching the Da Ai broadcast about the poor peasants of Myanmar, who set aside "a handful rice" to practise the concept of 'eating 80% full and keeping 20% to help others', Ya Xian was deeply moved.

Ya Xian said, "Despite being very poor and often in hunger, a family in Myanmar managed to adhere to saving a handful of rice a day to help others. It really touched me. Here, we usually eat 100% full. Why can't we save like them and be thrifty? Then we can use the money saved to do good deeds. Moreover, eating 80% full gives us more vitality". Ya Xian has learnt to be more benevolent and she hopes the effect of this love can be extended continuously.

Ya Xian implements the concept of "|Vegetarian 80% full" into her family's life by reducing the amount of vegetables when buying, cooking less dishes at home, and reducing the ingredients in making soup by half. She said, "Every meal, I cook two or three dishes, and this is sufficient for everyone, with no leftovers," thereby realizing the concept of "zero food waste". Ya Xian also revealed that she had only used up 20% of the cooking oil she purchased since the Lunar New Year. Interestingly, her family gradually adjusted well to the change in their diet.

Conserve and reduce carbon footprints

Water saved after washing vegetables is used for watering flowers, and fruit skins buried in the soil become natural fertilizer. This not only helps the fruit trees to bear more fruits, but also attracts small animals to enjoy the fruits. The leaves of the trees at the corner of the house slowly swaying in the breeze will make us feel cool and calm; and the trees and flowers outside will also make the house cooler.

Ya Xian revealed, "I usually do not switch on the air-conditioner or fan while cooking. I feel alright by wiping off the sweat. I also open the doors and windows to let the wind in to make the house cooler." In addition, she has reduced the number of hanging decorative bulbs from 5 to 3, and she only switches on a small lamp in the living room at night.

In order to collect rainwater, the family also installed water pipes along the roof. Whenever it rains, the rainwater runs down the pipes and flows into a paint bucket. Ya Xian uses the rainwater to wash clothes, floor and flush the toilet. She said, "In fact, it is up to us to have the heart to take a little trouble to do it. As a child, we were also using rainwater, as well as, river water for washing."

Ya Xian conserves and reduces the carbon footprints by collecting rainwater for use, and saving energy and water has really helped save her monthly utility expenses. "We did not have to pay for our water bill for two consecutive months, and hopefully it will be the same for the following month," Ya Xian said smilingly. Her household has only used around RM10 for water bills.

Being thrifty is a man's duty

To be thrifty is, in fact, a man's duty. Ya Xian said, "We should imitate our ancestors' thriftiness, which they passed on to us. We should just follow and do all these good virtues." Less shopping has helped Ya Xian to reduce her desires and live an easier and comfortable life. For the past two years, she did not buy any new clothes. Instead, she buys second-hand clothing from the recycling station. On top of this, she also sold off her brand new old clothing through a friend who owns a clothing shop and donated the proceeds from the sale to Tzu Chi.

The coins dropped into her bamboo piggy bank have become more and more. When she realized that the newly opened recycling station (Bukit Rahman Putra Station) was without a lorry to transport recovered resources, Ya Xian immediately donated money to the recycling station to buy a second-hand lorry. Initially, her husband, Chen Wan Gen, disliked her involvement in Tzu Chi. But now, he has become a volunteer himself, giving full support to his wife.

Wan Gen said, "Last time my wife was thrifty. Since her participation in Tzu Chi, she is more thrifty in using electricity and water than before." Recalling his wife's vegetarian cooking, he smiled and said, "I couldn't understand why she wanted to be vegetarian." He once asked his wife, "We are not cows, why do we have to eat grass?" However, with Ya Xian's persistence, he gradually changed his attitude. Now, he is also involved in environmental protection and has become a vegetarian.



To be "80% full" in clothing, food and shelter is, in fact, easy for housewives to practise, as long as they want to do it. All they have to do is to start with themselves, then encourage their family members to work together to respond to low-carbon living, and use the money saved for charity.

 

The food expenses of the Chen family is only about RM2/- per meal per head. 【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】   Chen Wan Gen (left) helps to prepare fruit juices for the family members to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet.【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】

The food expenses of the Chen family is only about RM2/- per meal per head. 【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】
 
Chen Wan Gen (left) helps to prepare fruit juices for the family members to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet.【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】
 
Xiao Ya Xian uses the water after washing vegetables to water the plants. Her water saving measures had kept her water bill at the minimum rate for two months now. 【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】   She buries the fruit skins in the soil as natural fertilizer. The fruit trees absorb the nutrients, grow and flourish with lots of fruits.【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】

Xiao Ya Xian uses the water after washing vegetables to water the plants. Her water saving measures had kept her water bill at the minimum rate for two months now. 【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】
 
 
She buries the fruit skins in the soil as natural fertilizer. The fruit trees absorb the nutrients, grow and flourish with lots of fruits.【Photograph by Low Mai Yin】
 
Since her involvement in environmental protection, Ya Xian has learned to be contented with less desires. She said being thrifty is a man's duty. We should adopt the virtues of our ancestors' thrifty attitude. 【Photograph by Sue Tow Fong】    

Since her involvement in environmental protection, Ya Xian has learned to be contented with less desires. She said being thrifty is a man's duty. We should adopt the virtues of our ancestors' thrifty attitude. 【Photograph by Sue Tow Fong】
 
   

 

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