MANILA, Philippines ? Born and raised only five minutes away from the rainforest of Brazil, how could she not have loved the earth? Miss Earth, Priscilla Meirelles, is an environmentalist by nature. Her concern for nature was something she grew up with?it was hardwired into her system since she was a child.
?I grew up considering nature and my surroundings as an extension of my home,? says this 23-year-old 5?10? beauty, the poster girl for this issue of ?Green Couture.? She adds: ?Just as I would not throw trash in my living room, I would never throw trash out on the streets.?
As Miss Earth, Meirelles travels around the world, using her title and credibility to call people?s attention to environmental problems. To protect the environment, she gives talks, joins groups and environmental activities, recycles and makes an example of herself for others. Meirelles, who now calls the Philippines her second home, believes that ?Education is the key to conserving our environment.? If we teach our children early on about loving nature and keeping our surroundings clean, they will not only learn the lessons well but they can teach us in turn, she adds. ?Imagine your five-year-old reminding you not to litter??
Meirelles? current pet peeve is the lack of garbage cans in the city?even in major malls. Like most of us, she?s asking: Where do our taxes go?
SIM: Are you a member of any earth-friendly organization? Which one?
Priscilla Mierelles: Not anymore, although I would love to since I am passionate about nature and life. But I?ve been quite busy working and traveling the entire year, and I would not have been able to keep my commitments to these organizations.
SIM: What do you think is the biggest issue we need to address environmentally?
Priscilla: It would have to be education. Such an answer may sound weird?I could very easily say water pollution or segregation of garbage. But from my point of view, social issues are directly connected with environmental ones. Through education, we can promote the idea that the earth is an extension of our physical and sentimental home, and that if we do not protect and take care of it, we will be the ones directly suffering the consequences.
SIM: What can an average person do to help promote a cleaner planet and friendlier environment?
Priscilla: Aside from being more conscious of the intervention and impact of one?s actions on the environment, what is equally significant is if one could eventually intervene in the attitude of others around, like family and friends, and join some environmental groups. Or simply engage in some eco-friendly activities.
SIM: Give a personal experience of how winning a pageant like Miss Earth has changed your life.
Priscilla: Well, to start with, I changed country. And this has changed my entire world, which means friends, profession, language, and, most important of all, attitude. The pageant opened a great many opportunities, especially career-related, and I saw myself working in an area which I had avoided so much back home, because I never saw it as a long-term career. But destiny has its own way of working things out. And if I am here now, and happy, I guess it?s because this is the way it?s supposed to be. Of course, the opportunity to travel is the most worthwhile. You get to see and discover different places and people, and to absorb the most interesting kinds of information. It?s constantly learning through enjoyment, because it?s a lot of fun too. A pageant with international dimensions, such as Miss Earth, definitely offers you many great opportunities in the most varied and interesting areas. And the rest?well, the rest is up to you!
SIM: What?s the best thing about winning Miss Earth? And what?s the worst?
Priscilla: I would say that so far, the best thing about winning Miss Earth is that you can contribute to the cause that the pageant promotes?that is, the environment. Then, of course, there?s the quantity and quality of knowledge that you gain and are able to accumulate through your travels as Miss Earth. You get exposed to new situations, people and places, and what they contribute to your world is infinitely larger than yours. The worst, I would say, is to be a title holder for just a year.
SIM: What?s next for you?
Priscilla: I wish I knew, so I could just relax and enjoy. I am pretty much in a stage of big decisions in my life right now, and I just hope that I make the right choices. Mostly, though, I wish those choices don?t deprive me of traveling, which is what I enjoy doing so much. And I don?t think I will need to choose between love, life and career. Like everybody else, I want everything.
Dress by Patrice Ramos Diaz who was given the task of designing an outfit that could be considered ?Green.?
Says Patrice: ?I?m still connecting the relevance of fashion with the preservation of nature. Recycling is one aspect, another is using fashion as a vehicle to send out the message of raising consciousness for environmental concerns.?
Our cover girl wears an outfit that is made from vintage material that, we hope, sends out the message that recycling material is fashionable.