STANDISH, Maine — Earth Week kicked off on April 16 and runs through Earth Day, Thursday, April 22.
As we look to celebrate "Mother Earth," we turn to a Mainer whose job it is to represent her. The current reigning Miss Earth USA is Marisa Paige Butler—a native of Standish.
Butler was crowned Miss Maine USA in 2016, Miss World America in 2018, and in January, she because Miss Earth USA. She will go on to compete in the international Miss Earth competition later this year.
Miss Earth is an international environmental-themed pageant competition that promotes environmental awareness, conservation, and social responsibility.
In the meantime, Butler is working out in San Diego, California, as a financial advisor.
"Financial advisor by day, earth advocate by night and weekends," she joked.
Butler has a lengthy resume in environmental activism. She currently leads a trail head clean-up program out in San Diego called We Clean Trails. She said her passion for environmental causes stems from her "Maine roots."
"In Standish, there was a wildlife preserve right bordering my house so I had a lot of exposure to animals at a very young age," she said. "My mom would often volunteer for the Center for Wildlife in Maine, helping rehabilitate animals... So I had a lot of animals coming in and out of our house as a kid, a lot of exposure to it!"
Asked how we can all best celebrate this Earth Week, Butler suggests exploring Maine's natural beauty.
"That's the first step," Butler said. "You cannot learn to protect something you do not know. So by getting out there and falling in love with the great outdoors and the wild animals that call it home, that's the first step."
Another way to honor "Mother Earth" this week is to look to form sustainable habits.
"It's really easy to turn off the lights when leaving the room," Butler said. "Or cook on the top shelf of your oven. Things will cook faster, using less energy there. Or try to replace everyday items with ones that are more eco-friendly."
Beyond shopping from environmentally conscious companies, Butler said shopping local is key.
"In Maine, we have a lot of 'Mom and Pop' stores. Shopping local is the number one way to be sustainable, and not only that, but you're going to be supporting fellow Mainers," she explained. "In this time of the pandemic, when everyone has been struggling financially, you're not only helping the planet, but you're helping your fellow Maine citizen by shopping locally."
People can also follow Butler's lead by making every Monday a "Meatless Monday."
Butler said small day-to-day changes can make big impacts.
"Look at things you're doing in your daily life, and ask 'where am I being the most wasteful and is there a product I can change to in order to be more sustainable in the long term?'" she recommended.
Furthermore, when those Earth Week articles pop up on your feeds, take time to be curious.
"At the end of the day, all that really matters is that you're learning something new about Mother Earth and learning something new about living a sustainable life," Butler added.
Connect with Marisa Paige Butler on Instagram by clicking here.