“My mother is Japanese and my father is American with Dutch roots. I started modeling at the age of 16 after being scouted in downtown Seattle. I modeled throughout high school and while in college, but it was more like a fun extracurricular activity or after-school job rather than a temporary career or a business which is how I see it now.”
“This isn’t the first cover I’ve been on, but it is the cover I am most proud of. Although China’s Sports Illustrated is not nearly as well-known as the US version, there are 1.3 billion people in China so…”
You have probably had the opportunity to travel around the world, where is the most exciting place you have ever been to? In your opinion which place do you think has been the most environmentally conscious?
“I’ve heard that countries in Northern Europe such as Switzerland or Iceland are some of the most environmentally friendly countries, but I wouldn’t know from experience.”
I can definitely say that European countries seem to be more environmentally conscious than Asian countries, especially in the country sides of Spain and France. Compared to Asia, the air is much fresher and people live a more sustainable lifestyle.”
We hear rumors back here in the States, is China and parts of South East Asia really that bad environmentally?
“Unfortunately it seems that China is very bad environmentally. One city in China called Linfen is the most polluted city in the world! China’s bad environment is due to the many factories (both legal and illegal) that operate throughout the country. The irony is, many of these factories that produce so much pollution are producing for American consumers.”
Many people might think that the fashion industry is not that sustainable or “green.” What would you say to disprove that assumption?
“I believe that the fashion industry is evolving into a more sustainable or “green” industry. There are now many brands that base their philosophy around environmentalism and social responsibility, and there are many celebrities who also support this cause. However, I don’t think that the fashion industry itself is environmentally conscious; it’s a business and their goal is to make money by giving consumers what they want. It’s the consumers who have the power to influence the fashion industry to be more “green”.”
Why do you think it is so important in today’s generation to try and live a sustainable lifestyle? Is there one thing that you do in your daily life to be more sustainable?
“It’s more important now than ever to try and live a sustainable life because we are running out of resources! Future generations and even our generation will suffer because of the way we treat our planet. I’m not an environmentalist, but there are small things I try to do everyday such as reusing grocery bags, choosing to buy organic and locally grown fruits and veggies, and not eating red meat. I think that no matter how small something might be, the important thing is to be consistent and try to make lifestyle changes.”
Want to see more of Mika’s work? Check out her blog: MIKA V’s BLOG
Yao Ming, the Houston Rockets basketball star may be one of the few athletes making a basket for sustainability. He has definitely made an assist when it comes to speaking out about the prohibition of shark fin soup in China and sustainability has the position of playing center. With China gaining momentum as one of the worst for green house gases in the world it can be refreshing to see that someone cares about the other environmental issues out there (not that climate change isn’t important!) Yao Ming is so adamant about abolishing shark fin soup that he has pledged to never eat the Chinese delicacy again. While Ming has made a slam dunk attempt to rid the expensive dish from his menu many of his fellow Chinese do not see eye to eye, and it is not because Yao is seven foot six. The shark delicacy has for many centuries been an honorable dish in Chinese culture. The soup is predominantly served at weddings and special banquets. In recent years with the rise of the Chinese economy, more and more of the shark fin soup has been made affordable to the population receiving market wealth. The demand has basically grown with the economy.
The controversial and unsustainable part of the expensive dish comes with the actual “finning” of the shark itself. Once caught by fisherman the fins of the shark are removed, while the body of the, still alive shark, is thrown back into the sea. The shark sinks to the bottom of the ocean unable to swim where it slowly dies. This could pose an altering threat to marine ecosystems since the shark is at the top of the food chain. According to Wildaid, a wildlife foundation formed on the mission of spreading awareness of illegally poached and trafficked animals, around 100 million sharks are harvested annually.
Yao sets a great example for environmental protection and he should be appreciated not only for his talents but for his ability to be a role model as well. The practice of shark “finning” needs to become more sustainable, for the environment and for the viability of the dish.