Read the full story at Treehugger.
When you think of Miss Universe or any other beauty pageant, sparkles, glitter, synthetic fabrics, and loads of single-use plastic might come to mind. That’s how it’s been for decades. But with younger generations now fully enmeshed in the workforce and international events, things are taking on a different kind of focus—oftentimes through a lens of sustainability.
Case in point: R’Bonney Gabriel from Houston, Texas. Crowned Miss Universe 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Gabriel is making headlines for a variety of reasons: She’s the first American to win Miss Universe in 10 years, the first Filipino-American to ever win Miss Universe, and the first contestant to craft an upcycled swimsuit cape from scratch.
The swimsuit cape was no ordinary bikini cover-up. Gabriel shared the laborious process on her Instagram of how she dyed the fabric a brilliant orange with sustainable dyes and molded used plastic bottles with just a candle’s flame. The cape, deemed “Phoenix Rising,” has Gabriel’s motto emblazoned across the back: ‘”If Not Now, Then When?'”