Security's own Miss Earth hopeful helping homeless
Last updated 7/15/2020 at 1:44pm
Alyssa Magalong, a 2012 honor roll graduate of Mesa Ridge High School, has been named Miss Earth Colorado 2020. She will go on to compete in the Miss Earth USA 2020 Nationals in Las Vegas in August. Miss Earth is an international beauty pageant competition that promotes environmental awareness, with delegates taking part in community volunteer work and developing environmental projects.
Magalong's platform is "Rethink, Reuse, Repurpose: Recycled Projects." To that end, she created a project that repurposes plastic grocery bags into sleeping mats for homeless people. The mats are insulated and can be used as cushions, small blankets or pillows. Magalong has made items from repurposed household materials in the past (such as making flower vases from recycled bottles). Then she discovered an article on biologicaldiversity.org that claimed only 1 percent of the 100 billion bags that Americans purchase each year get recycled.
"With this research in mind, along with the efforts of cities in Colorado to ban or charge for single-use plastic bags, I wanted to reuse, recycle, and repurpose the plastic bags in households to give them another life while also helping the homeless in the Colorado community," Magalong explained.
While the project has taken significant time (each mat requires 500-600 plastic bags), Magalong is pleased with the progress she's made.
"Plastic waste is common all over the world, but we can start taking action in our own communities," she said. "When I first started this project, I was in my room researching plastic waste, teaching myself how to crochet, cold calling businesses for help, finding ways to spread the word, and creating videos on how to make "plarn" (plastic yarn). I now have over 25 volunteers across Colorado helping with my project in various capacities. I am thankful for The Action Center and all of the volunteers/donors for their generosity, time, and hearts. I couldn't do it without you."
Magalong believes that everyone has the potential to improve their communities.
"Positive impact, change, and innovation begins with you and me," she said. "We all have skills and talents that we can offer the world. It takes stepping out of your comfort zone, seeking answers to our curiosities, and being the individual to start a chain reaction, which can eventually evolve to something bigger than ourselves."
The first round of mats will go to the Action Center in Lakewood on July 27. Magalong has seen enough interest from other people that she's decided to extend her initiatve and make a second round of mats to be donated by the end of the year.
"I was born and raised in Colorado," she said. "Colorado is my home and the community is family. I appreciate how this project values our environment and cares for people in our community. There's definitely love in every stitch!"
Alyssa Magalong is the daughter of Maria and Felix Magalong Jr. of Security. After graduation from Mesa Ridge in 2012, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Western State Colorado University (WSCU) in 2016. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication with an emphasis in Strategic Communication and minors in Business Administration & Sociology.
While attending WSCU, Magalong was an NCAA Division II Volleyball Athlete and was selected to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Volleyball All-Academic Honor Roll in 2015.
Magalong is currently employed as an admissions advisor at Up with People, an international nonprofit that empowers young people to be positive agents of change through music and social action. She is also a Commercial, Print, and Promotional Model at nxt|MODEL, and a Youth Volleyball Head Coach for Ballistic Volleyball Club.
To find out about volunteering for this project, contact Alyssa Magalong on Facebook or Instagram at @misscoloradoearth.
-G. Connor Salter