5 BURNING QUESTIONS: Miss Earth 2022 Mina Sue Choi on issue of carbon footprints

Mina Sue Choi of South Korea is crowned as Miss Earth 2022 by Destiny Wagner of Belize during the finals held at Okada Manila in Paranaque City last November 2022. Looking on is Miss Earth founder Ramon Monzon, also president of the Philippine Stock Exchange. (Photo by Miss Earth Foundation)

Miss Earth 2022 Mina Sue Choi of South Korea is taking an active role in the protection and preservation of Mother Earth.

As the reigning Miss Earth, Mina says there's a big responsibility ahead when it comes to the promotion of environmental awareness.

Mina, South Korea's first Miss Earth titleholder, also says she’s thrilled to serve as the ambassador to environmental protection campaigns worldwide.

"So far, the crowning moment seems as if it was only yesterday, so the experience is still very surreal. The crown is quite heavy and I know for a fact that the responsibilities will be heavy as well. I am excited for the challenges I will be facing this year, but I am very happy and grateful for the supporting community and the people I have around me," says Mina, a communication arts student, during an exclusive online interview recently.

Mina vows to set a legacy of beauty and responsibility during her reign.

"The moment I was crowned as Miss Earth marks only the beginning of my journey. I will do my best during my reign and I will continue to stay true to my advocacy and my values throughout this journey," the Korean beauty queen adds.

Mina advocates in promoting reduction of carbon footprints in cities with sustainable mobility and encouraging lifestyles that will help reduce carbon emission in our daily lives.

With the rapid rise of industrialization and urbanization, humans that live in urban areas will increase at an unprecedented rate. With cities already being 60 percent responsible for our greenhouse gas emission, the numbers will skyrocket as more people live in cities.

One of the greatest factors that contribute to carbon emission is transportation. Our consciousness plays a big role in this task. Finding alternative ways to reduce carbon emission and making eco-friendly choices. Mina tackles further her advocacy in our online interview:

Miss Earth 2022 Mina Sue Choi of South Korea (Facebook)

1) Your advocacy is promoting reduction of carbon footprints in cities with sustainable mobility. Why does it matter?

First, It is crucial to mitigate carbon footprint in cities because cities and urbanized areas account for the majority of the carbon emission. Thus, catalyzing and instigating the speed of global warming and irregular natural disasters/climate change. Unfortunately, the largest group that is most immediately affected by this occurrence is not the cities, but the developing cities and countries that have the least in-put in carbon emission. There is an unfair distribution of the consequences when it comes to the question, ‘who is most affected by climate change?’ Communities that do not have the technology in combating irregular natural disasters are faced with the most disastrous consequences. Secondly, there is no doubt or denial in the fact that more urbanization will be taking place in the next few years. Thus, As more urbanization takes place we are in urgent need of adoption of green technologies. Cities with the technology should share knowledge with developing cities and countries and set as an example for a sustainable economy. Climate crisis knows no borders, and as an international community, I believe it is us who Miss Earth’s role to be in the forefronts, collect and knowledge-share across borders.

2) You also encourage lifestyles that will help reduce carbon emission in our daily lives. Share us tips on how to reduce carbon emission?

The good news is that we live in a transitional period. We currently live in a period where climate discussions have become the ‘must have’ talks. From international conventions, such as the COP, international communities are gathering to combat the current existential climate crisis. We are consciously talking, but I believe what really has to be tackled is the subconscious minds of the world. We need to embed the idea of being eco-friendly in our daily lives to truly make everyday changes. For now, small activities such as using your own tumbler, using less plastic straws, having occasional meatless meals, walking or biking close distance will make a difference.These may appear as such simple activities, but when these eco-activities become the norms of our lives, not long, we will live in sustainable ecological era, and the only matter in our hands is time and the heart to empathize with our Mother Earth.

3) What programs in your country - South Korea - that are related to the promotion of the reduction of carbon footprints which you think our government can also adopt?

There are many aspects we can learn from one another, but if I were to mention one thing I am proud of Korea is the country’s recycling practices. Korea has one of the most organized recycling systems. In fact If a household does not correctly distribute their waste and trash, the government will fine them. The trash bags in your district would have a specific labelling and they can be bought in any local grocery shops. Distributing and recycling your trash has been such an embedded norm for Koreans that sometimes I actually get a little surprised to see trash all being thrown out in the same bin.

4) Do you think the issue of carbon footprints has reached a negative level elsewhere? What will happen if we take for granted the issue of carbon footprints?

Most definitely. Carbon emission released into our atmosphere raises the average surface temperature of our earth causing global warming and extreme weather events. As we deplete our natural resources and burn fossil fuels, the risk of threats are further increasing. Not only do they affect the poorest areas in the world, but also affect the harmony of the biodiversity. As mentioned before, while climate change affects every single person, it significantly and immediately impacts developing countries with the least amount of technology to protect themselves from irregular events; in fact, a lot of these countries rely heavily on natural resources. Today, we’re seeing the tragic results of our reliance on heavy industrialization and urbanization. Cities such as Joshimath in India are sinking and we are seeing more cities disappearing at an unprecedented rate. If it affects the developing countries and cities, it will creep on the bigger, unexpected cities as well.

5) How can all of us be part of the change in saving the environment?

Community involvement is crucial to combating the environmental crisis because not only does climate change affect every single person, but without a unified participation of people, we cannot change the entire system. It is not only about being ecological on a daily basis on your own,but it is also about influencing one another to be ecological as well. Today, We live in a social media based community. What we know and what we acquire comes a lot from what we are exposed to. I truly believe that we can utilize the medium we have and expose more of what we learn and believe in through media. Every person can be an ‘influencer’ and I believe this term has a bit more power and it can be used to do good in the world. My suggestion to many is to constantly use your platform to showcase the beauty of Mother Earth, the ecological activities you are doing, and even the heartbreaks you feel from seeing our lands falling apart.