I just moved back to my parents place in Malaysia after graduating from a US university. I've been progressing slowly but surely while I was back there but now that I'm here it's incredibly hard! Yesterday I went grocery shopping with my mom and she was so generous with her use of produce bags (she bagged bricks of packaged butter). She even bought a few bottled water for my dad and I was enraged! I tried arguing with her and though she was sympathetic, she just couldn't bother having to deal with my dad. Eating out is also a norm here as it is delicious and very cheap. Street food can be pretty amazing and its a matter of national pride. But of course, it's such a terrible waste and no one cares! Also in Asia, people rarely question anything so to do so can be met with blank stares and confusion. Once I was at McDonalds (not the best place to go, I know) a few years ago before I was interested in Zero Waste and I politely declined a plastic bag. The cashier stared at me confused and shove a plastic bag in my face. She couldn't understand that some people might do things differently and it's perfectly OK if they did.
So if anyone is in the region that can understand the challenges in attempting Zero Waste here, please let me know! Thanks!
I'm not in SE Asia, but you may have one blessing in disguise.... the lack of totally draconian US health codes. Try to bring your containers to street food vendors and see what they do? I bet they would oblige.