Miriama Kamo looking out of her window

Leading by Example: Miriama Kamo - Embracing a Waste-Free Lifestyle for a Sustainable Future.

July 11, 2023


In an era where plastic waste continues to suffocate our planet, Aleph is committed to reducing plastic waste and packaging within the beauty industry to shape a sustainable future.

We had the privilege of speaking with Miriama Kamo, an inspiring advocate for waste-free living. Miriama shares a similar journey towards living a zero-waste lifestyle, she was deeply influenced by her upbringing and cultural background. Raised by her waste-free OG mother, she was instilled with the values of reusing and appreciating the environment from a young age.

Sharing a common vision, Miriama Kamo a renowned New Zealand journalist, has also embraced this mission wholeheartedly, emerging as a powerful advocate for a plastic-free lifestyle. Miriama's dedication to reducing plastic waste and her commitment to environmental advocacy align perfectly with Aleph's values. Which is why we couldn't wait to talk to her about her waste-free journey and learn from her invaluable insights, personal experiences, and practical tips for embracing a plastic-free lifestyle.

What inspired you to start living a waste-free lifestyle? I was raised by the waste-free OG, my mother. She saved and reused everything and she and my father were very careful about separating rubbish from recycling as we grew. I was also raised in te ao Māori which naturally connects to the taiao (environment) and practices appreciation of what the planet provides through all our Atua. And, as a Catholic raised kid, I was mindful of manaaki of people and planet. But, I didn’t mindfully step into my own deeper waste free practice until I was an adult. It was a New Years Eve resolution about five years ago to try out this 'thing' I’d heard of called Zerowaste. I decided to do it for a month but then realised, at the end of that month, that it’d be wrong, even crazy, to stop. Not only did I know that it was the right thing for the planet but it was the right thing for me. I get so much joy from it.

What are some of the challenges you've faced along the way? The first one was going to eateries and being brave enough to ask them to put the food into my own re-usable containers. I was so terrified, which is funny because it’s second nature now. The darkest day was making the decision on toilet paper. Some have made the decision to use 'the family cloth' (google it) and I realised that wouldn’t work for me. There’ve been so many challenges but each brings its own satisfaction.

What are some of the benefits you've experienced from living a waste-free lifestyle? Joy! I use that word all the time. The connection you make with the planet and all the life it sustains. The slower, more mindful way of living. The connection to people. It’s just, joy.

What are you doing this Plastic Free July to support your mission? It’s important that I don’t represent myself as perfect. And part of that is letting people know that my family practice low-waste, but still generate more rubbish than I’d like. That’s been my biggest challenge. If I lived alone, I’d be pretty successfully zero-waste, but I don’t live alone. And so my mission, and Plastic Free July helps hugely with the messaging, is to keep encouraging my family members to practice low waste and connection to planet.

As a mother, how do you limit the amount of waste your children can create? Whether it's toys or school lunches? This is the trickiest challenge. I’m the mother of a 22 and 11 year old. The 11 year old enjoys toys and fashion and lollies, all of which regularly come in plastic or are unethically produced. And there’s a real tension between her own joy and not raising a monk-like child. So it’s about limiting excess, regular reminders about making less harmful decisions, and educating her about why these decisions are important. For example, there are some shops she knows I simply won’t set foot in, and while that’s frustrating for her sometimes, it’s important that she learns that I have boundaries and limits that I keep in service to the planet. I tell her it’s my responsibility as her mother to keep her ‘home’ well for her to thrive in. Hopefully that will filter through as she grows and she’ll make her own decisions accordingly.

We know you have a passion and personal interest in makeup and natural beauty, what's your one makeup must that you do before going in front of the camera? I absolutely love fashion and beauty products but, as you say, they have to be ethical and sustainable which is why I use Aleph. And I love a good blush so I don’t look washed out.

What’s your must-have Aleph product? The serum - gorgeous! And the blush - multi-purpose!

What are some essential items for your waste free lifestyle that you keep in your handbag so you don’t get caught short? I used to carry cutlery and collapsible containers around, but now I'm a bit more organised and used to living low waste, so I just eat in if I’m out and about or take my lunch with me. But if you’re starting out, consider taking a wee kit - cutlery, collapsible cup and container, a fresh lemon (you won’t believe how handy these can be for making tea on the go or flavouring things) - just be careful not to take your knife onto an airplane, it’ll get confiscated as I learned to my embarrassment ;)

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