21 Questions with Kate Meads

Recently labelled New Zealand's own Waste Free Warrior - Kate Meads - is heading our way in June to facilitate and MC our Love Food Hate Waste Southland events. Kate has a huge Facebook following here in NZ from the work she does all over the country as part of her popular Waste Free Parenting workshops as The Nappy Lady.

Kate Meads and her son Daniel
Kate Meads and her son Daniel

As part of her trip down south she will be entertaining us with her Food Lovers Masterclasses.  Tickets for the Masterclasses cost $21 which is the amount some families can waste in food waste every week.  The Southland Express have gotten to know Kate better by asking her 21 questions.

You can download the Southland Express PDF of the interview by clicking here or scroll down the page to read the full interview.


Question 1. You spend a lot of time travelling around New Zealand presenting Waste Free Living Workshops. What is your favourite town to visit?  And what was the worst place to visit?

My favourite place to visit in New Zealand is Queenstown and Central Otago.  I can never get over the breathtaking views and the feeling of being so small in the mountains.  Plus Fergburgers!!!  They are simply the best burger I have ever had so I always make time to have a Ferg for lunch!

I don’t really have a worst place, to be honest.  I think we are so lucky to have such a beautiful country and every town I visit I always have something I love about it!  In Invercargill I love the people…and the bluff oysters…of course!!


Question 2. Have you been over to Stewart Island?

Not yet but I definitely want to go one day and see the GIANT sandflies but I will be prepared with my homemade insect repellant or they might carry me away!!  In fact if they are as big as they say they could work together to offer free flights!


Question 3. What is the most interesting question/s you have been asked at one of your workshops?

Where did you get your shoes from?  Would you sell me your shoes?

Because you are The Nappy Lady, how many nappies do you change a day?


Question 4.  You will be working with The Hits Southland 98.8 while you are in town for "Bosch Win the Fridge" competition.  What is in your Fridge?

ohhh….I am often not home long enough to even look in there!!  But at the moment there is some pastrami, Whitestone cheese, cream cheese, hummus, lots of condiments, my husbands home made vege soup, Watties tomato sauce (ALWAYS), a very sad looking home grown spring onion just waiting to be placed in the next soup and lots of avocados!!!


Question 5.  Leftovers are the second most wasted food group in NZ. What is your favourite leftover?

I love roast chicken sandwiches the next day with cream cheese and avocado!


Question 6. There are some foods that just taste better tomorrow.  What food tastes better tomorrow?

A good beef stew!  It always tastes better the next day, especially if you turn it into a shepards pie with a cheesy mashed potato top!...YUM


Question 7.  You have a significant Facebook following, what do you do when you get recognised on the street?

I get hugged by women who follow me and love what I do and have helped them change their households.   I got recognized on a plane recently and ended up giving the lady a whole lot of advice about her nappy issues she was having at the time while she walked her baby up and down the isle.


Question 8.  If you could offer one piece of advice to our readers what would it be?

You don’t have to do everything, just do something!

Make one small change in your household and commit to it!  You don’t have to be an environmental superhero you just have to do something small that will make a difference. 

For example – the person who has a takeaway coffee every day will use 260 disposable cups per year if they have a takeaway coffee everyday, Monday to Friday.  If they got themselves a re-usable cup they would prevent 260 cups from going to landfill every year.

Or if a family with a baby in nappies uses just 1 cloth nappy per day they will prevent 365 disposable nappies from going to landfill every year.

1 small thing = compounding change.


Question 9.  Food waste is a topical issue at the moment, why are you getting on board with Love Food Hate Waste campaign?

I LOVE a challenge and I live and breath behavior change programs!!

I think as a society we have become thoughtless in our day to day shopping habits and we shop every week even if we have enough food in the cupboard to feed an army for a month.  You only need to see people shopping at Christmas or Easter when the shop is closed for one day…..it is insane the amount of food they are buying just in case!

I myself have been guilty of buying more fresh produce than we will eat just because it is on special and then a few weeks later you end up throwing it out. 

Even if you end up composting it, the production of the vegetable is a huge waste of resources for it not to end up being eaten… I feel sorry for the little broccoli that grew up to be included in a yummy meal only to be thrown into a smelly old compost bin.


Question 10. What is your favourite restaurant/café to visit when you are in town?

I am normally always working at night when I am in Invercargill so I don’t get time to venture out to the restaurants.  However, when I am down I normally stay at the Kelvin and always get a great meal but a few years ago I took my family to The Cabbage Tree and enjoyed a wicked whitebait fritter!!


Question 11.  Cloth shopping bags are a great way to reduce plastic bag waste,  but what do you do when you forget to bring your own bag?

I have a great habit of putting my bags back in the car when I have unpacked my groceries but I would forget to take them in with me….so I used to kick myself all the way around the supermarket (I could have just gone back to the car but you are already inside so all of a sudden it is like it is too hard to walk 100 metres back to the car) then I would feel really bad when I got the plastic bags at the counter and proceeded to try and become the invisible man on my way to the car so nobody would see me with plastic bags….oh the shame!!!

Then one day I had a light bulb moment and realized that I could just get the wonderful checkout operator to pop the groceries into trolley (without the bags) and them pop the groceries in to the reusable bags that I had sitting in the car…doh!!  You can always excuse your laziness or you can find a solution by changing your own behaviour.


Question 12.  You must be a very organised person to be able to travel around New Zealand, operate a business and raise a family.   What is your secret?

I am away 158 days this year…I just added it up…WOW!!!

I have a very understanding and supportive family at home.  My husband is a great cook and likes doing the housework…which is just awesome because I don’t!!

I have great staff (Rochelle and Brody) and they do a lot of the background work for me these days and keep the wheels turning when I am on the road.

Because my business has grown over the past 10 years, I have grown with it and have learnt how to stay on top of things.  If I tried doing the amount of work and travel I do now when I was just starting out it would not be sustainable!


Question 13.  You have been sharing your waste free message for over a decade, how did you get started?

I talked about poo’s for the first few years!   I was one of the original importers of the modern cloth nappies 10 years ago, which let to me educating on cloth nappies and the benefits.  Which then let to me making some pretty serious changes in our household to reduce our waste and eco footprint…

Then I got offered a few council contracts to share what I had learnt and it grew and Grew and GREW!!!

I still can’t believe that I have a fulltime job that all came about from talking about poos.


Question 14. What 3 ingredients would you use to make the ultimate soup?

Red Lentils, Onion and Bacon Soup.  I have an awesome recipe that my original business partner gave me. 


  • 3 – 4 Rashers of Bacon
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • Half a packet of red lentils
  • 2 – 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes


  • Sauté Bacon and Onions
  • Add everything else and cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft
  • Puree if you like a smooth soup
  • Serve with parsley


Question 15.  What comes to mind when you think about Fejoa's?

Fejoa and apple crumble…my favorite winter desert with some Kapiti Vanilla Bean ice cream…Delish!!


Question 16.  If you were hosting a dinner party and could invite 5 people from any place in history who would they be?

Erin Brockovich – I would like to thank her for inspiring me that you can make a difference, as long as you stick at it and give it all you have got! 

Elvis Presley – He died the year I was born so I feel that we would have a lot to catch up on – he could give me the low down on the past and I could tell him what happened since he left this place.

My Grandma – Mavis who was just the most wonderfully supportive grandparent I could ever have wished for!! She was awesome and when we used to go and stay with her she did no house-work (must be hereditary), we lived on fish fingers and bananas on toast.  All she wanted to do was spend time with us so she would sit for hours with us teaching us how to play cards (her way)– and we learnt all about rugby sitting on her couch.

Jeff Wilson -  because grandma adored him and always called him the golden boy.  She would love to meet him and share her take on all of the refs calls against him.

Princess Diana – Just because I adored her as a girl and loved her work with charities and those in need.  She seemed like such a beautiful person and I think her and Erin Brockovich would get along fabulously!


Question 17. Do you like pickles?

I love pickles!!  They are so great with cheese and crackers or in a burger!!!!


Question 18.  What would be your one super power?

Teleporation – so I could zap myself between locations with a mere thought.  It would save me a lot of time!!


Question 19.  What do you like doing in your spare time?

Spare what ??


Question 20.  What is your favourite song?

Masterpiece by Jessie J - I am still working on mine!


Question 21.  What is next for Kate Meads?

One day I want to be an international motivational speaker on waste… But to be honest I am just loving what I do!!  I love every challenge, I love meeting people and I love making a difference.  Not many people do a job that they love!  I do…every day!!  I wouldn’t change a thing!