Sea Point resident Yajna Gold has always been interested in the environment. Now, being a regional semi-finalist in Miss Earth SA, she has been given a bigger platform to spread her message.
She studied businesses marketing for four years at UCT, and this had a big influence on her. “The course that I did really focused on green education. The new trend in marketing is to go green. That is where I learnt and began to think about it.” She was also influenced by her parents and her late grandfather.
Ms Gold is one of 13 semi-finalists in the Western Cape and is hoping to find out at the end of the month if she made it through to the national semis. In the meantime, she is working three jobs to make ends meet.
But she doesn’t mind going the extra mile for a cause she believes in. “Having the face gives you the voice and helps to convoy important messages through unique campaigns. I felt it was a necessary thing to join and this was something I felt passionate and inspired by.”
Miss Earth SA, according to Ms Gold, stands up for wildlife and the environment in the country. But she also stands up for people, and a big part of the programme is about education on sustainability.
“South Africa is our land, and it is full of resources, but these resources are not infinite. It is very important that we are aware of that, and the programme focuses on education conservation, sustainability. It’s all about encouraging people to be environmentally conscious.”
Ms Gold said the environment was a particularly important topic in Cape Town because of ecotourism. “The more we look after our natural heritage the more it will attract tourists,” she said. “It is critical and it is one of our sources of income. To be a thriving and strong community, we need to focus on the environment. People and the planet are not mutually exclusive, and we need to focus on both.”
Climate change, overfishing and other growing threats to the planet made environmental awareness programmes ever more important. “We need to be a bit more conscious about how much we are using and how much we are giving back.”
She is also very concerned about the impact of non-biodegradable hygiene products on the environment.
“A lot of the things that are being thrown down plumbing are not biodegradable and goes into the ocean. It doesn’t disintegrate and it is killing out animals and ecosystems. It is a huge concern and we need the ocean to be sustainable. It’s a conversation we need to have but a lot of retailers don’t want to face this concern.”
Ms Gold said the Miss Earth competition was a great leadership opportunity for young women. “It forces you to do things you wouldn’t normally do and teaches you so much.” She hopes to do work for UN global initiatives and start a company to market eco-friendly products.