Libby Hill, Miss Earth USA, On Travel & Sustainability

L.A. STYLE sits down with Libby Hill, Miss Earth USA. Libby holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and is pursuing a second degree in Nutritional Sciences/Dietetics at the University of Texas at Austin, where she is currently completing her dietetic internship. As a certified personal trainer and future registered dietitian, she plans to establish a private nutritional counseling practice with the mission to educate others on health, body kindness, and sustainable food sourcing practices. Libby is the reigning Miss Earth USA and is using the title to promote her platform of coastal preservation and educate future generations about the importance of sustainability by partnering with organizations that focus on environmental advocacy, animal welfare, and veteran communities

We still hope to ignite your curiosity while currently stationary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why–while we try to #flattenthecurve at home– we will be interviewing all sorts of game-changers, entrepreneurs, and inspiring individuals in the travel sphere.

Interview questions by Ellen Yin of Cubicle to CEO, an online membership teaching women how to monetize their passions and build a profitable business.

ELLEN YIN: Libby, congratulations on winning Miss Earth USA! You’ve understandably had to alter many of your travel plans and service tours due to COVID-19 -what creative methods have you engaged to continue doing impactful work during your reign in this uncertain climate?

LIBBY HILL: Thank you! I had numerous trips for restoration projects and appearances to host or speak at environmental events planned, which unfortunately had to be canceled or deferred. I still wanted to make the most of my reign despite the limitations, so I shifted my focus toward media and socially distant projects.

I was able to host some virtual events, like the Bay Day Festival for the Galveston Bay Foundation, appear on a number of podcasts to share about my platform and pageantry, write articles on sustainability and do quaranteam-only community cleanup challenges with the Clean Earth Project. My family is still participating in the Oyster Fostering program and I’ve recently judged a socially distant mask-required pageant, so I’m doing my best
to stay active with the cause!

ELLEN YIN: How does your upbringing in sustainable practices influence how you lead as Miss Earth USA? What tips from home can you share with our readers for practicing sustainability in their own lives?

LIBBY HILL: I come from a southern family, so we were taught how to cook, how to mend clothes, and to never waste. My mom played the biggest role in encouraging sustainability by enforcing recycling in the household and creating opportunities for community service and outdoor play. To this
day, she teaches me about sustainable products before I even hear about them! That just goes to show it all starts in the home; even if you aren’t perfect in your efforts, setting an example to your children or friends can inspire others and influence change.

Some simple ways to start are to invest in reusable items like a travel coffee mug, water bottle, and metal straw, swap household plastics for bamboo or glass products, start recycling or composting, shop local, eat a bit less meat, sign online petitions for environmental protections, pick up trash in your the neighborhood, or buy children’s books about environmentalism to read before bed.

ELLEN YIN: Speaking of sustainability, we’d love to chat with you about the future of travel and the increasing popularity of “slow” travel trends. How do you incorporate “slow travel” into your life?

LIBBY HILL: Slow travel is all about releasing the typical hustle and bustle “tourist” model of traveling in pursuit of an authentic cultural experience. Slow travel doesn’t say don’t visit tourism sites, it just says don’t miss the spirit of the country in the process. Instead of rushing to see everything
on a vacation that requires a vacation to recover from, you pace yourself, soak up the environment, and aim to learn about the values and lifestyle of a foreign place.

The first thing I do when I visit a new city is to take a long morning run or walk. I get to see a place at its most peaceful when crowds can’t tell you what’s “important” to see, and take mental notes about where I want to revisit later. I also always try to visit a local market because I’m interested in food culture across the world, and my number one rule for traveling is to ask locals where to eat instead of the Internet!

ELLEN YIN: What advice would you give to readers on how they can also travel in a way that is more intentional and kind to the Earth, while also better supporting the livelihoods of the local communities they visit?

LIBBY HILL: For the actual traveling portion, you can calculate the carbon footprint of different transportation methods online to compare which is the best option. Surprisingly, for long trips, sometimes a plane is more sustainable than a car. If you decide to fly, programs like Jet-Set Offset will charge you a small per-mile fee and donate to well-vetted restoration organizations that offset the carbon footprint of your flight!

When you’re in a new place, shop for souvenirs at locally owned stores or craft fairs, and eat at small restaurants. Always practice “leave no trace” in public areas and in natural environments. If you have questions ecotourism.org is a wonderful starting resource.

ELLEN YIN: When travel opens back, what’s the first place you’re headed to?

LIBBY HILL: I’ve promised myself for years I would visit Paris. I’m an artist by hobby and there are so many museums I want to spend the day sketching in, and so much wine and cheese I’d like to taste!

ELLEN YIN: I’m curious, what’s your favorite way to travel and why? (Planes, trains, cars, ships?)

LIBBY HILL: If I had it my way I’d take trains everywhere, but that’s not a reality in Texas. I actually dislike driving because, to me, it’s stressful and time-consuming. I always try to a bus when visiting another city nearby so I can work on the road. There are some surprisingly nice bus services popping
up with Wi-Fi and meal service without the waste of jet fuel for a shorter trip!

ELLEN YIN: I hear you’re currently working toward becoming a registered dietitian at the The University of Austin. How are you using your Miss Earth USA platform to further your passion for bringing wellness to people as well as the planet?

LIBBY HILL:  It turns out, when it comes to food, what’s good for the planet is also good for your health, so that makes my job easier on both fronts! During quarantine, I developed a number of planet-friendly recipes and have appeared on a podcast discussing sustainability in the food supply chain.In America, we have a monumental food-waste problem, so I’ve used my platform to draw attention to it and provide practical solutions like planning meals in advance of grocery shopping, implementing a “first-in, first-out” a system with perishable items in the home, or freezing fresh items like
meat, produce, and bread before they spoil.

ELLEN YIN: Wellness is a broad concept that people unfortunately often have a narrow definition of. What would you say to encourage people to approach their wellness in a different way?

LIBBY HILL: I believe personalization is key to wellness. We are not all meant to live the same life; we don’t all hold the same values, have access to the same resources, or enjoy the same things, and that’s okay! If health is the goal, there are a million ways to get there so don’t let the blanket rules of diet culture decide what diet, self-care, exercise, or body type is right for you.

At the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself about the things you love and embrace them. Move your body in a way that feels good and brings you joy, eat food that nourishes your body and make room for the
foods that you love without guilt. Most importantly, be your own compass and check in on your mental health and self-image regularly. If an activity is compromising either, it’s not worth it.

ELLEN YIN:  My podcast, Cubicle to CEO, is all about the concept of breaking free of the boxes (AKA cubicles) that limit us professionally and personally and stepping into the leadership role of being CEO of our lives and business. As Miss Earth USA, what does being a CEO mean to you?

LIBBY HILL:  Be it business or a pageant, qualities of leadership and success are consistent. In both cases, you must prepare, commit, make sacrifices for your dreams, and be up to date and able to speak on your platform, the
whole while accepting criticism and failure as an opportunity for improvement. To be at the top of your industry, you have to stand out and be different, which means taking risks to shake the status quo and having confidence in who you are and what you have to offer. Many women in pageantry end up establishing their own businesses or succeeding in competitive careers because of the lessons we learn in pageantry, and I plan to continue that legacy.

Enjoy these interviews? Take a look at Olivia’s interview with Tara Cappel of FTLO or Ernest White II, Host of Fly Brother, with Ernest White II on PBS, on L.A. Style. 
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