YAO CHEN RECYCLES FOR A BETTER WORLD
Activist actress Yao Chen is one of the stars in H&M’s and M.I.A.’s ”Rewear It” video for World Recycle Week. Read on for this superstar’s thoughts on power, climate and fashion.
M.I.A. and H&M have joined forces to promote World Recycle Week, an initiative that aims to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted clothes.
Besides M.I.A., the video Rewear It features some of our favourite people on this earth – one of them Chinese superstar Yao Chen. With almost 80 million followers on social media platform Sina Weibo, she is one of the most influential women in the world, something Forbes magazine recognised on their ”The World’s 100 most powerful women” list. Western media likes to call her ”China’s Angelina Jolie”, referencing her work as a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.
Yao Chen’s part in the Rewear It video was filmed in Switzerland, in a dreamy landscape that Yao Chen chose to interpret with a gentle, beautiful dance.
”The reason I am so passionate about promoting this message is that I believe World Recycle Week is an extremely meaningful environmental initiative. I’ve also seen a lot of short films shot by artists from all over the world that made me aware of the significance of recycling, and made me realise just how much waste and pollution can be reduced this way. I think that participating in this is really interesting and meaningful.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE TO HELP PRESERVE THE ENVIRONMENT?
”I try to cut down the amount of time I have the lights on. In the summer, I don’t use the air conditioner if I don’t have to, and I reduce private car travel – these are all everyday things that can be done to protect the environment.”
I accept that this is just the world I live in. We really have no choice, we can only love it..
WHAT ITEMS IN YOUR WARDROBE DO YOU TREASURE THE MOST?
”To me, the most important things in my wardrobe would be a white silk shirt and jeans. I think these two items will never become outdated and won’t easily fall out of fashion.”
SOMETIMES THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD SEEM TOO ENORMOUS TO TAKE ON. WHAT SMALL STEPS CAN YOUNG WOMEN TAKE TO START TO GET MORE INVOLVED AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
”For young women who love beauty and fashion, this clothing recycling event is inextricably linked with fashion. For example, we buy so many clothes that are only worn once or twice in a season, and for young women who love beauty and fashion, last season’s fashions can become really embarrassing and annoying. H&M’s World Recycle Week can give these old clothes a good place to go and can also satisfy the wishes of young women to get more clothes.”
WHO ARE SOME OF THE WOMEN WHO INSPIRE YOU?
”For example, my mother. She’s an extremely humorous person. I think I get my great sense of humour from her. Also, my grandmother. I think she’s a super strong person. She’s experienced a lot of hardships, but she stayed calm and collected through it all. I also see a lot of excellent characteristics in her. This also includes Angelina Jolie, who is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. One reason I became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador for China is because I like her. Also, Cate Blanchett. I really like her acting. To this day, I look up to her acting as my performance goals.”
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR WORK WITH UNHCR?
”Working for UNHCR for six years, you could say they’ve showed me another side of the world. Maybe because I lived in a relatively peaceful environment, where we haven’t felt war, we can’t understand the suffering the refugees endure. We don’t even know a group of people like the refugees and can’t imagine their lives and experiences. You also don’t know on this planet, while we sit over here drinking coffee, someone is experiencing gunfire and someone is escaping their homeland as a refugee. I couldn’t even imagine these things before.
So, the UNHCR allowed me to see this other side of the world and to gain a deeper understanding of my own existence in the world, and in the end, to understand what type of world God created. Before, I couldn’t accept it all. I’d keep asking why, why can’t people be born equal? But now, I’ve finally started to slowly come to accept it. I accept that this is just the world I live in. We really have no choice, we can only love it.”
WHAT KEEPS YOU OPTIMISTIC?
”It would probably be my faith. I have always believed in the beauty of things, including the good part of humanity. So I’ve always thought that no matter how many setbacks I encounter, I can always maintain a positive and optimistic attitude about what happens in life.”
World Recycle Week starts on 18 April. Click here to watch M.I.A.’s Rewear It video and to read more about the initiative and how to participate (it’s super easy – just bring your unwanted clothes to your nearest H&M store!).