The queen has spoken, and repeating outfits has nothing to do with how beautiful you will present yourself.

Newly crowned Miss Philippines Earth Water, Jemimah Joy Zabala, shared a story behind the yellow gown she wore during the national pageant. It was a creation of Leo Almodal, she explained during the question and answer portion.

She said she had no idea that the gown had been worn in previous national pageants, but added she has no issue with using an “overused” creation. Repeating and renting outfits fall under her advocacy for sustainable fashion.

“Renting gowns and being an outfit repeater does not make a beauty queen less of a person. As long as you look great in it, wear it with pride, and strut it like it’s newly made,” she said.

And this advocacy is not only limited to reusing clothes; it can also help address some environmental and climate-related concerns. Zabala believes that pageantry is a good platform to encourage the public, particularly young individuals, to live sustainably.

Sustainable fashion mitigates climate change
The fast fashion industry, characterized by the quick turnover of trends, leads to the mass production of clothes, which requires the use of a significant amount of resources such as oil, chemicals, and water. These resources can create greenhouse emissions that are responsible for changing climate conditions.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has cited that the fashion industry is responsible for contributing 8-10 percent of global emissions.

Environmental sociologist Dr. Ronald Edilberto Ona, who is the Dean of the College of Sciences at Palawan State University (PSU), said pursuing sustainable fashion plays an indirect role in addressing climate change.

It is not just the clothes people wear, but also the factories where products come from, that contribute to the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

“The fashion industry has a significant environmental impact, including high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste generation,” he said.

If the necessity of this advocacy is not seen, it will be hard to attain goals such as achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

Ways to live with sustainable fashion
Ona sees that the goal of sustainable fashion is to minimize carbon emissions throughout the entire supply chain, from raw materials to the final product. Minimizing the supply chain can promote the use of renewable energy sources in manufacturing processes and the adoption of clean technologies.

Some ways to achieve this include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as transport emissions from transferring materials and products, and conserving resources by using eco-friendly materials that require less water, fewer pesticides, and fewer chemicals.

“Kung sa sustainable fashion ka, ang gagamitin mo ay biodegradable, textile na hindi masyadong gumagamit ng tubig, chemical inputs,” he said.

Shopping at secondhand clothes stores, commonly known as “ukay-ukay,” is a sustainable practice because the clothing is being reused rather than thrown away or incinerated.

Living in a sustainable manner also minimizes landfill garbage and methane emissions, both of which are greenhouse gases.

It also opens the opportunity to use new materials like bamboo and recycled plastic bottles as textiles.

“Ang sustainable fashion industry ay niche pa lang sa Pilipinas, advocacy pa lang, hindi pa siya nakaka-penetrate sa mainstream na market,—sa tingin ko hindi pa siya na-acknowledge as necessity,” he said.

There should also be a circular economy approach where products are designed to be recycled, repaired, or repurposed at the end of their life cycle. Ona sees that extending the lifespan of garments is reducing the demand for new production.

Consumer awareness
Consumers should also be aware of the carbon footprint of each purchase they make. Actions like unmindful purchases or joining trends out of influence could also contribute to it, he added.

“Nagtuturo ang sustainable fashion na maging aware ka at the same time ay responsible ka. Na iyang fashion mo ay meron iyan carbon footprint, which may impact climate change. Maging conscious or responsible buyer,” he said.

Beauty queens like Zabala play an important role in raising awareness among consumers of the impact of their decisions, especially on young people.

Being on stage with Miss Earth is also an opportunity for her to remind herself that “it’s okay to use what has been worn.”

“In the fashion industry, it’s embarrassing to use what has been worn before. But given the world nowadays, malaki ang percentage ang nadudulot na pollution ng fast fashion,” she said.

“I want to encourage young people to wear something they are comfortable with; you feel beautiful with kahit ano pa yan at saan pa yan gawa. I would like to inspire them to live in sustainable ways,” she added.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.