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Before winning the crown, Miss Universe USA, R’Bonney Gabriel promised the audience that she would wear a homemade design during the swimsuit competition.
The model, fashion designer, and sewing instructor from Houston was crowned the winner of the 71st Miss Universe pageant. During the competition, she made history by wearing a swimsuit cape piece that she made from recycled materials. Gabriel wrote on Instagram that the cape was “sustainably dyed and designed using plastic bottles.”
“I gathered and transformed this cape to showcase how art can be made out of what we perceive as trash,” she added. “It also embodies my favorite message of ‘If Not Now, Then When?'”
In the viral video, Gabriel showed how she used the flame from a candle to shape the plastic bottles. She also used orange dyes to color the fabric of the cape.
“I designed this swimsuit cape inspired by the story of the Phoenix Rising, who emerged from adversity to become stronger, smarter and more powerful,” she wrote in the caption. “I’ve kept this in mind during my journey through pageantry. Setbacks will always happen in life but we can choose whether to let them bring us down or use them as fuel to rise.”
In all, she said she spent 10 days in the lead-up to the pageant working on the historic cape design. She worked with sustainably sourced wire and netting and used recycled plastic.
“As a very passionate designer, I’ve been sewing for 13 years, I use fashion as a force for good. In my industry, I’m cutting down on Pollution through recycled materials when I make my clothing. I teach sewing classes to women that have survived from human trafficking and domestic violence,” Gabriel told Insider’s Anneta Konstantinides.
“And I say that because it is so important to invest in others,” she added. “Invest in our community, and use your unique talent to make a difference. We all have something special, and when we plant those seeds to other people in our life, we transform them and we use that as a vehicle for change.”
Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic every year, 78 percent of which is NOT reclaimed or recycled. Around 8.8 million tons of plastic get dumped into the oceans every year! 700 marine animals are faced with extinction due to the threat that plastic poses to them in the form of entanglement, Pollution, and ingestion. 50 percent of sea turtles have plastic in their stomachs. By 2050, 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic waste. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, there will be one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and if things go on business as usual, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Read more about how companies like Facebook, Tupperware, Google, Dove, Budweiser, Carlsberg, and FIJI Water are working towards reducing plastic Pollution. Places around the world like Tel Aviv, California, Baltimore, Scotland and many more are banning various single-use plastics and others that are coming up with creative ways to recycle and use plastic waste.
There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic Pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!
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- Do What You Can: Reduce waste, plant trees, eat local, travel responsibly, reuse stuff, say no to single-use plastics, recycle, vote smart, switch to cold water laundry, divest from fossil fuels, save water, shop wisely, Donate if you can, grow your food, volunteer, conserve energy, compost, and don’t forget about the microplastics and microbeads lurking in common household and personal care products!