As the current titleholder of Miss Earth USA, Libby Hill has worn quite a few hats in her lifetime—in addition to the crown!
In honor of Earth Day April 22, we sat down with Miss Earth USA to discuss the importance of protecting the environment and getting involved.
Before she was crowned, Hill was completing a full-time dietetic internship through the University of Texas at Austin, working as a model, personal trainer, and volunteering with a number of organizations related to environmentalism, animal welfare and veteran communities. Today, she is still wearing all those hats, in addition to her crown!
Between modeling gigs, appearances and restoration projects, the amount of travel on Libby’s plate has been the biggest change since being crowned Miss Earth USA. “You have one year to use your title to make an impact,” says Hill. “It’s hard work and you dictate your own success, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to advocate for the environment and connect with other queens nationwide, so I’ve loved every second.”
Why did you decide to participate in the Miss Earth USA pageant? What was it like?
I love the process of preparing for pageants and I was already working to care for planet Earth, so this pageant felt like a perfect fit. The Miss Earth USA system is different from any other pageant because all of the platforms are united under a single theme and the contestants are scored on their ability to organize community events and engage on social media about their platform before they ever get on the stage.
It’s amazing because at nationals you’re walking into a room of strong, beautiful women and you know you share a common interest and cause, which makes it easy to make friends and really loosen up and enjoy the week. The national pageant is hosted in Las Vegas and, of course, there’s all the glitz and glamour you would expect for a pageant in that host city. We take time for sisterhood and environmental activities and compete the whole week in runway, swimsuit, judges interview, media interview, and evening gown prelims, all leading up to the final show and crowning.
What are you passionate about and why?
I’m passionate about empowering others to take action in their lives, whether it be in the interest of health, through my professional career or the planet, through my environmental advocacy. When it comes to building a better future and climate (both social and environmental), the more people that take action, the greater the outcome; that’s why my passion lies in setting an example for the community.
I love dragging friends and volunteers out to muddy, hands-on restoration projects because a hard day’s work usually turns into a fun, gratifying memory when you realize the impact it had. Witnessing someone else finding joy in caring for themselves, or the planet, is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
Tell us about the projects you’re currently involved in.
Before the COVID shutdowns I was working with The Clean Earth Project to organize beach cleanups across America’s coastlines. However, since the shutdown, I’ve been focused on education and using virtual platforms to keep people engaged in conversations about the environment and encourage others to find their own socially distant neighborhood projects. I was able to take some events virtual; like an upcycled art project and education hour with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, a virtual Earth Day celebration with one of my favorite coastal restoration groups, and plenty of media interviews and podcasts.
What are some simple ways we can all help protect the environment?
1. Educate your family on the environment. This can mean doing a fun activity with your children or loved ones like building a rain barrel, planting some flowers, doing a trash “scavenger hunt,” or reading a story book about the environment.
2. Be a conscious consumer. Shifting your normal purchasing habits towards companies that are carbon neutral or products that are more sustainable makes a huge difference across the course of the year. Look for the EPA’s “Safer Choice” label, GreenSeal, Fair Trade, or USDA Organic on household items and appliances that tout Energy Star or Water Sense labels.
3. Vote (VOTE!) for a candidate that has an environmental plan that aligns with your beliefs. So much of what happens to our planet is decided at a policy level and we need to trust the people making those decisions have an interest in protecting the planet for future generations.
4. Please, stop with the plastic. Recycling is not the solution to the plastics problem because much of the plastic we generate isn’t recyclable or isn’t sorted or returned properly. The only solution is to stop (or seriously decrease) the production of single-use plastics. Use reusable glass, silicon, or paper storage in the kitchen, take a metal straw if you go out to eat, and support restaurants with sustainable packaging for to-go orders. Some delivery services like UberEats even identify restaurants with sustainable packaging for you.
What final message do you want to send to our readers?
Your actions create the future you live in. Not everyone will buy into the idea of living sustainably, but don’t become discouraged or resentful. Your actions count and the example you set may be inspiring people you don’t realize are watching. Be kind to and forgiving of people who don’t understand, or aren’t willing to accept the impact they’re having on the planet. Instead of polarizing others, seek solutions and do the hard work. It may not be your waste, but it’s your planet. I’m in this with you and for you, and appreciate every little thing you do for our Earth!
Cover photo courtesy Libby Hill
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.