By Nina Wu
The very first Miss Earth Hawaii beauty pageant is headed this way. Miss Earth Hawaii and Miss Earth USA are both being held Sept. 1 at Ala Moana Hotel. The search is on for a "beautiful" ambassador for the environment. The pageant's motto is "Beauties for a Cause."
Now I'll be the first to admit beauty pageants have never really been my cup of tea. I often thought of them as superficial and silly.
The beauty industry and sustainability movement have often been at opposite ends of the spectrum — with cosmetics being tested on animals, blatant industrial waste and use of chemicals in products (to learn more, visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database).
There's been a lot of greenwashing in the industry, too, with companies labeling their products as "natural" which really doesn't mean anything.
I know, I know, I've heard the jokes — especially from those who grew up in the "hippie" era. Is Miss Earth going to wear Birkenstocks, patchouli oil and dress in hemp (actually, in future years, they may try to wear gowns from recycled materials) or go au naturel? And most environmental organizations have not really embraced the idea of a beauty pageant for sustainability.
But I do know that the scholarships for beauty pageants have always been a motivating factor and that many little girls still look up to beauty queens with admiration. I also have respect for the United Nations Environment Programme, which Miss Earth will become a spokeswoman for.
So if beauty and sustainability can come together for the betterment of the earth, why not?
Miss Earth Hawaii USA 2012 Siria Ysabel Bojorquez seems like the real deal. Having come from a humble background, her mother and grandmother emphasized a lifestyle of "never let anything go to waste," she said in an interview. She aspired to be an environmental lawyer, with an environmental platform on upcycling.
If these beauty pageant contestants can raise awareness about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, global warming, sea level rise (and speak articulately about them), plus encourage people to recycle, use less plastic, compost food waste, stop throwing cigarette butts on the beach or explain the importance of the eat local movement, then bring them here.
Let's make sure it's not all about glamorous appearances and empty talk, but real action, too.