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Poor policy polluted Barbados

Land pollution is the degradation of the soil due to human activity that causes toxins and contaminants to leach into the ground.  Most of the freshwater in Barbados comes from rainfall that filters through the ground into aquifers that supply the community with drinking water.

As the Mottley government looks to overhaul their development policy it is important that they look to protect and rejuvenate the land – especially land adjacent to the water aquifers (Zone 1) – from the toxins that are leaching into the groundwater.

One of the biggest causes of  land pollution is agriculture. Back in the 1960s when the Barbados GroundWater Protection Policy was created, planners thought agriculture was an ideal way to protect the soil from contamination. They didn’t know or worry about the use of highly toxic fertilizers and pesticides. With decades of fertilizer and pesticide use dangerous toxins have built up in the ground surrounding the aquifers that supply Barbados with drinking water. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified three chemicals used in pesticides that are conclusive causes of cancer. Read report here  

Perhaps the biggest worry facing the Barbados Water Authority is that cancer causing pesticides are slowly leaching into the islands drinking water. The biggest question residents should ask is:

Why restrict land use in highly sensitive water zones areas to agriculture when the science shows that farming is one of the biggest causes of land pollution?

Another big contributor to land pollution in Barbados is vacant land. A century long habit of tossing trash out the window has caused 1 to 2 feet of garbage to collect on vacant land. And while weeds and bushes may grow over it the trash below decomposes leaching toxins into the soil. The restrictive land use policy around our aquifers has caused most of the land that isn’t farmed to be left vacant.

The truth is the Barbados Groundwater Protection Policy did not protect the land but contaminated it by limiting use in zone 1 areas to agriculture.  Restricting land use also stopped pollution protection innovation and technology from developing here. Luckily other countries weren’t so foolish and green technology advanced. From natural cleaners to localized sewage treatment systems, there are many innovative ways to protect land  abutting our aquifers from pollution.

The Groundwater Protection Policy is currently under review, and we are hopeful that policy makers do not ignore the science that has identified agriculture and vacant land as contributors to land pollution.  

We encourage policy makers to look at innovative ways to protect our land, and take a “be green not militant” approach to land use. Much of the land around our aquifers needs rejuvenating and we should look to eco tourism, and organic farmers for help in the process.

Fertilizers, pesticides and garbage will continue to leak dangerous toxins into the ground water without a complete overhaul of the Groundwater Protection Policy. Banning the use of  fertilizer and pesticide on all agricultural land in zone 1 is essential but hard to police; and vacant land will continue to collect garbage unless policy makers allow other forms of land use.  

It is our suggestion that zone 1 land be opened to ecotourism initiatives that introduce and promote pollution prevention systems; and that all initiatives be required to clean up and rejuvenate the soil.

Pollution prevention systems and soil rejuvenation could easily be made part of the planning approval process for all ecotourism initiatives in zone 1 areas. It is the right, reasonable and responsible approach to tackling the growing pollution problem in Barbados.

Beth Shaw founder of YogaFit


It is my mission to create a transformation of the whole person; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually”
– Beth Shaw

As one of the utmost leading experts in “mind, body, and fitness,” Beth Shaw is recognized as an industry pioneer drawing from years of experience and expertise in nutrition, exercise, yoga, and holistic health. For over 20 years, Shaw has committed to helping others achieve heightened mind-body health through the creation and growth of YogaFit.

Beth Shaw is a creative visionary who has helped revolutionize the fitness industry and bring yoga into the mainstream.

As the founder and CEO of YogaFit, she has brought transformation to the lives of teachers, students, and enthusiasts around the globe.

YogaFit, the workout, is a hybrid of yoga, stretching and fitness exercises that blends Eastern tradition with Western fitness science. YogaFit, the company, is a hybrid of instruction, innovation, and inspiration. YogaFit began as an instructor-training program.  When Beth started teaching yoga in upscale, Southern California fitness clubs, she found the traditional methods didn’t address the variety of body types, skill levels, and personalities she encountered in her classes. In 1994 Shaw developed her user-friendly brand of yoga, following the traditional group exercise model of warm-up, work and cool down. The concept caught on, the demand grew, and in 1997, YogaFit presented its’ first Teacher Training seminar in North Dakota. Twenty-five aspiring yoga instructors in Fargo gave birth to a program that has since trained 250,000 people worldwide.

But what makes YogaFit great? Every YogaFit instructor is required to complete community service as part of their certification, YogaFit has given over three million hours to charity and service projects.  

YogaFit is a company on a mission.  

Since 1997, YogaFit instructors have given over a million hours to community service projects.

The company asks every person enrolled in its training program to complete 8 hours of community service or charity work. Together, they’ve brought yoga to at-risk youth, the elderly, disabled adults and children, stressed out employees, teenage mothers, churches, synagogues, and prisons.

YogaFit offers seminars, educational material and training manuals for fitness professionals and a series of creative workout videos, yoga apparel, and products.  From YogaFit Basics to Power YogaFit; from YogaButt to YogaFit for Seniors, Shaw has proven that yoga is for any and everybody.

Shaw is also one of the founders behind Visionary Women in Fitness, a non-profit organization to educate and empower young women.  Partnering with Vanderbilt University’s Girl Force, Visionary Women in Fitness aims to change the way girls view beauty and teach them that true worth is determined by ones’ self. YogaFit’s extensive network of instructors will bring this message of empowerment to junior highs and high schools across the country. But there is more! Beth is also the author of three best-selling books, her premier book, YogaFit (Human Kinetics) has sold over 100,000 units worldwide. YOGALEAN a lifestyle book was released in 2014, and The YogaFit Athlete was released by Random House in  2016. Beth is working on her fourth book – Healing Trauma with Yoga look for it in October 2019.

RECIPE: Chickpea tacos!

There’s a good chance your first thought when you hear of chickpea tacos is “Ew, who’d want to eat that?” But trust me on this. They are amazing.

What you need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 package of taco spice
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • Dash of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil (how much is up to you)
  • Hard taco shells (blue corn if possible)
  • taco fixings (lettuce, onion, tomato, salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole)

Take a can of chickpeas, rinse them, then put them in a bowl.  Evenly coat the chickpeas with the taco spice, garlic, lime juice, water and oil. Bake them for 20 minutes. Cook the taco shells for 10 minutes.

Take them out of the oven, add your fixings.

I actually found these because I said chickpea to someone in an e-mail. Gmail picked up the word (as it scans your e-mails for keywords and directs ads at you based on these) and promoted a recipe link to me. For the record, this recipe is the only reason I am okay with Gmail reading my mail.

 

Woman of the Week: Kim Smiley

A look back at our Woman of the Week from 2013 …

Beneath its glittering surface, the jewelry world can be a pretty ugly place. From blood diamonds to ivory poachers, the history of jewelry is filled with examples of the darkness to which a person can descend in the pursuit of precious stones.

That’s why it is such a relief to see people like Kim Smiley, the creator of Sapphô by Kim Smiley, using jewelry to create a positive impact on the world and giving these baubles a reason to shine.

“The essence of my vision,” Kim says, “is to use fashion as a platform for empowering women with meaningful work.” By providing marginalized women the opportunity to work for Sapphô and earn a living wage, Kim is changing lives.

“I have always loved fine art and fashion, but my heart has always drawn me to the charitable sector. Sapphô marries my passion for social justice with my love of aesthetics and style.”

Sapphô, Kim’s jewelry collection, is named after the ancient Greek poet. Known for her lyrical odes to the beauty of women, she is a fitting namesake for a jewelry company that is aiming to use its pieces to introduce people to great poetry.

Each one-of-a-kind and handmade piece of jewelry in the collection is inspired by a poet, and comes with a poem from said poet’s collection.

“We juxtapose Nobel Laureates like Pablo Neruda with brilliant emerging poets like American Jessica McFarland, whom I met while a graduate student [at Harvard] in Boston,” Kim says.

This unique marketing scheme is one of the many ways Kim sets her company apart from the pack. However, this was not a decision made just to creatively market her collection. Kim really believes in the power of poetry.

“We’re using fashion as a portal to open people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of poetry,” Kim explains. “Many people are turned off by poetry because they think it’s inaccessible or elitist. We want to turn them on. Who ever thought jewelry could get people to read Pablo Neruda? We’re feeling pretty optimistic.”

Drawing attention to beautiful poetry by linking it to stunning jewelry, the impact of Sapphô would be enough reason to laud Kim as a supreme businesswoman (as well as a fashionista). But she doesn’t stop there. Kim also has solid work experience in the non-profit sector.

Currently, she serves as the vice president of community capacity building at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. This role allows her to once again use her social consciousness to make a difference, but focuses it more on the Jewish community in the GTA.

Prior to her work with the UJA Federation, she served as vice president of marketing and development for Habitat for Humanity and assistant director for the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre & Museum.

Clearly, Kim has spent much of her life striving to make the world a prettier place, both literally and metaphorically. What’s the next step for her?

“I’m joking with friends that maybe I should start a modest poetry library where people can check out books and try on jewelry,” she says.

All joking aside, such an endeavour would be a natural fit for a woman who has so adeptly combined the worlds of charity, literacy and jewelry.


*** Kim Smiley is doing even greater things to find out what she is up to now go to: https://www.kimsmiley.com/

Trust Loans programme to increase entrepreneurial activity

Entrepreneurship plays a huge part in the growing economy of many countries across the world, and the island paradise known as Barbados is no different. The island while preparing to celebrate its 52nd year of Independence on November 30th, is also giving more financial opportunities to local start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, through the recently launched ‘Trust Loans’.

Recently, Government launched a $10 million trust loan programme, under which starting on Monday, Barbadians can begin to apply for collateral loans to further their business visions.

“We recognize that people need a start; if you recognize, this Government has started a Trust Loan Fund for small businesses . . . . Most persons are finding it difficult to obtain loans from the commercial banks. So, we have set the policy framework so that small businesses can come and start $5,000 trust loans and that gives you a start,” said Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Commerce Dwight Sutherland.

Under this new and progressive programme, entrepreneurs can access loans of up to $5,000 at a minimal interest rate of 1.5 to 2%. Clients will be able to also borrow this amount once they have successfully repaid their initial loan.

Acting Prime Minister George Payne Minister of Small Business,  as he explained how the ‘Trust Loans’ programme would proceed, said that Government was seeking to provide ‘comprehensive entrepreneurial framework for small business development’.

He also announced that there would be a number of support mechanisms which included an alternative and user friendly website, a financial literacy bureau to assist entrepreneurs in becoming more financially savvy and a mobile phone app that help entrepreneurs complete loan applications and make payments among other features.

The ‘Trust Loans’ programme is set to provide in total $10 million dollars per year for the next five years that it will take to  seed a Trust Loans Fund.

“The revolving nature of these loans encourages successful recipients to abide by the repayment requirements, which in turn will continually permit the fund to be replenished so other entrepreneurs can benefit and prudent borrowers can reapply for additional financing,” said Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde, as he spoke during the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2018.

“Increased entrepreneurial activity will go a long way in building more entrepreneurial citizens and excite our young people about getting involved in business, a borderless world where the technology opens new opportunities that were unavailable to previous generations,” he said.

Not only is it possible that the ‘Trust Loans’ will yield increased entrepreneurial activity, but the Minister also assured that there would be initiatives geared towards the encouragement of an entrepreneur in every Barbadian household, in an effort to maximize income earning potential, stimulate economic activity and increase the focus and spotlight of the Barbadian brand in both the Caribbean and International markets.

Two such initiatives are the Prime Minister’s Innovation Award worth $250,000 and the Youth Innovation Award worth $150,000 of prize money which are intended to spark new ideas, innovations and new business, leading to the generation of new wealth, jobs and bringing foreign exchange into the economy.

Fungi eats plastics and benefits environment

Fungi that eats plastic seems like a plot-twist right out of a sci-fi book or movie; however, this particular species of fungus which was found at a landfill site in Pakistan could be the real life solution to the ever growing plastic waste problem.

The Aspergillus tubingensis, is the species of fungus that researchers have found to feed off of plastic, breaking it down in weeks rather than years.

This is the not the first time finding organisms that feed off of plastic waste, as there were discoveries of bacteria that could break down plastic as well as the wax worm which can naturally degrade plastic due to its similar structure to that of its natural food, beeswax.

One of the reasons plastic had ballooned into the human substance of choice was because it was inert and therefore sterile. This meant that it could be used as ubiquitous as needed around the planet from food packaging to pacemakers to aviation.

However, the problem with plastics was the fact that they did not degrade easily , leading to  billions of tons of plastic still hanging around in landfills, and in the oceans , with more being added massive amounts of plastics in continue to be in production globally.

The fact that there are organisms ‘evolving‘ to exploit this new plastic –filled environment, has caused some researchers both a sense of excitement to study how they are doing so, but also some alarm  as well.

Scientists at London’s Kew Botanical Gardens reported that these organisms are an important advance in a world where momentum is building to reverse the toxic tide of plastic that is killing marine life and polluting the ocean.

Senior Kew Gardens Scientist Ilia Leitch, said that they are exploring these organisms for their potential to degenerate different types of plastic, explaining that “by understanding how the fungi break down these bonds and what the optimal conditions are, you can then increase the speed at which they do it.”

There are also other uses of fungi, including using it to feed on pollutants such as oil spills, toxic chemicals like sarin nerve gas, TNT and even radioactive waste.

The first-ever State of the World’s Fungi report, also spells out that advances in the agricultural applications of the various species of fungi could translate into improved food security, environmental sustainability and increased production revenues.

Climate change however, are affecting the the ranges of species of fungi and biodiversity in ways that the UN Environment (UNEP) revealed were still not fully comprehensible.

The fungi themselves are also under threat in high latitudes areas, especially where average temperatures continue to rise, such as the Arctic. These changes are already affecting fungi reproduction, geographic distributions and activity, with possible knock-on effects for our ecosystems.

“Species react differently to climate change, which disrupts the delicate interaction between them,” says Niklas Hagelberg, a UNEP climate change and ecosystems expert.

“This further complicates conservation; we need to quickly add climate change to our ecosystem management effort.”

 

 

Warmth this cold season is still fashionable

November is here and with it comes crisper weather, shorter days and a need for even cozier clothes.

November in my mind is the official beginning of the winter season, the time when it’s no longer just a ‘chill in the air’, but the introduction of real cold.

As the weather becomes colder many have a decision to make. Do you sacrifice fashion for warmth and heat or can you have it all?

If your fall and winter wardrobe is feeling lack luster, with nothing but the same old huge coats, boots and warm garments, then it is the right time to add some heat to your winter looks.

Are ready to give the season for chunky sweaters, blanket scarves, booties and all things cozy a touch of spice and heat, other than the need to be warm?

This fall and winter street styles are all about creativity and with that comes the joy of jumping right out of the box and mix and matching your fabrics for a new and unique look. Wool, plaid, silk and leather can work together to not only keep you warm, but are the basics for fun creative ideas.

When you’re feeling a little down in the dumps because of the colder temperature and darker days, go right ahead and add a huge splash of sunshine!

Yellow was the colour of the year for 2018 and it adds such a feeling of warmth, daring and joy to any outfit. Whether it’s a sweater, jacket, handbag or if you’re truly daring and bold enough, shoes, then go ahead and raise your spirits with the colour of the sun.

If you’re thinking yellow is too much for me, then why not reignite your summer feels and add some floral into the dark mix?

Transition your floral wide-leg pants to a fall look with the help of a chunky, bold sweater and black boots that peek out from the hem.

Not into floral pants?

Then mix it up with a floral chunky sweater, boots and dark jeans.

Letting your socks show is all the rage this cold weather season. A trend that is mostly seen with men, but can be a fun  and creative boost of fun and warmth for those women who want to still wear their kitten heeled slingbacks or fun mules. Pair these shoes with thin, chic socks in bright colours, or shimmery metallic or even argyle… the sky is the limit, so go nuts.

One of the best things about overalls is that they are a year round go-to! They are easy to wear and easy to dress up or down.  This fall and winter season, take them out of the closet and pair them with a fitted turtleneck tee, some loafer heels.

There are so many things you can mix and match to add some spice to your winter looks that will leave you both feeling fresh, fabulous and most importantly warm!

The big take away here is to not be afraid to of colours, patterns or to let your creativity shine through regardless of the season!

 

 

There must be more awareness on endometriosis

An American celebrity is calling for more awareness about the health risks endometriosis poses to women and especially those in the African American community.

When it comes to period cramps and women complaining of particularly painful ones, the consensus is usually to suck it up and keep going, because it is normal to have painful cramps when on your period.

In an essay published in OprahMag.com and WomensHealthMag.com, Tia Mowry-Hadrict, reveals that it took years for her to learn that the pelvic pain she had always dealt with was actually endometriosis, even going to multiple doctors.

“I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for years and went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off. ‘Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,’ one told me. ‘Just put heat on it,’ one suggested. Another doctor simply said: ‘Get on the treadmill — working out helps,’ ”she said.

This is the story many women who experience the painful health phenomenon usually tell, until they are diagnosed accurately by a doctor who is well verse in the signs of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus instead grows on the outside. The displaced endometrial (uterus) tissue continues to act as it normally would, however because it has no way to exit the body, it becomes trapped and can cause severe pain especially during the period, which can also lead to fertility challenges.

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain and is generally associated with the menstrual period.

Twenty-seven year old Yomi Perkins, an attorney in Barbados recalls her own battles with endometriosis stating that before her diagnosis, she would need to be on drips for the pain every month.

“I didn’t think anything of it as everyone always told me it’s normal to have cramps with your period. Years went by with these monthly cramps. I realized something was wrong when I was 21 my periods started coming every 2 weeks so I decided to see [my doctor], he did an ultrasound and told me my right ovary had a large cyst and he would have to run some test to ensure it’s not ovarian cancer.” She said in an interview with this magazine.

When the results came back, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and scheduled to have surgery to remove the ovary.

As most women with endometriosis can attest to, becoming pregnant is rare, and delivering a successful pregnancy can be extremely tough.

Recounting her experience with her now 4 month old twin babies, Perkins explained that every day she was still carrying was nothing short of a miracle.

“The pregnancy was a tough one I had to have an emergency cerclage in place as my cervix was practically nonexistent at 15 weeks and had to be on bed rest having weekly progesterone injections for the remainder of the pregnancy. I also had an elevated heart rate for the entire pregnancy my resting heart rate was 110.  I was also on tender hooks as every day I felt like my period would come,” she said.

Tia Mowry- Hadrict, revealed that she revamped her diet and underwent multiple surgeries to not only relieve her pain, but also increase her odds of successfully having her two children.

“Compared to other communities, it feels like there’s a void when it comes to talking about healthy living and medicine from African American women, for African American women,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exploring the island gem that is Barbados

When you live in a tropical island paradise that is only 166 square miles, you would think that you would have exhausted most places to go visit and explore, but if you’re me, then that sadly is just not the case.

Contrary to many beliefs I sadly do not get to go to the beach nearly as often as I would like to and I have yet to truly travel around and explore all that Barbados has to offer, in its natural beauty and island charm.

To remedy this, a bunch of friends and myself, one day decided to just hit the road and let the winding roads of the island take us on an adventure. Normally, I get lost in the island easily because I have not traveled around the place enough, only frequenting the same familiar places over and over again.

However, as I learnt on that weekend trip, there are a lot of places around this island that still needs to be discovered, to be explored and the very best way to do it is to do it with friends.

So on that sunny and warm Saturday morning, four of us piled ourselves into a Japanese speaking car and set off for adventure. First place chosen was to St Philip, because there was a famous bar close to a light house that promised amazing food and drinks.

The view was nothing short of breathtaking. The lighthouse itself was a towering round structure and showed signs of its very old age, however, by unanimous decision, were admired only from the outside. None of the crew game enough to try to go inside the ancient contraption.

The views on the cliff were amazing, the sea rollicking bringing forth harsh waves that crashed mightily on the rocks on the very long drop below. It was a freeing experience, being there in the open with the salty sea spray shooting up on the rocks before receding for another attack.

I could actually feel my mind clear and relax, but it brought with it, a real appetite and soon the squad found the restaurant, which was such an out of the way ranch looking place, doused in music with a fired up grill.

I had the best time there with my friends and was even happier with a huge plate of BBQ ribs.

The journey continued with the gang travelling through dirt a road, coming up to what was decided had to be a haunted house.

While the decision was taken to stick to the South of the island, it was so much fun to really take a moment and appreciate the beauty of the island. Sometimes I forget that I’m in an island paradise as the pressures of work and family increase, however, I have to advise anyone, to take a day, no matter where you are and travel around the town or country that you’re in. there is nothing like the feel of the open road, an unhurried atmosphere and good friends to make the whole experience awesome.

 

Blockchain provides opportunities for Barbados

The world is moving further and further into the digital age and of course with that definitive move, there will be a need for financial transactions to be faster, safer as well as easily processed by different countries. That is where Blockchain comes into play.

Blockchain is being touted as the technology to revolutionize how financial transactions are done and is already becoming very significant to how banks will carry out international settlements, transfers and trade finance to name a few.

Blockchain is able to simplify complex processes and acts as a turning point for cross-border transactions with its verification and record keeping.

So it is easy to see why many financial markets will no doubt be looking to embrace blockchain as early as they can, and according to reports coming out of Barbados the island is ready to explore blockchain opportunities, as they push for more fintech companies.

Speaking to the media at the launch of the International Business Week Julia Hope, President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) explained that Barbados was looking to embrace financial technology ‘fintech’ push more fully.

As the association currently works towards meeting the deadlines imposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting programme (BEPS), Hope assured that the sector officials would continue to examine new markets and opportunities for attracting diversified product offerings as well as the jurisdiction needed for those products and services to be marketed.

“We have some good companies in Barbados already operating – the likes of Polymath and AION, to name a couple,” she said.

“They are here; they are operating and this isn’t just digital currency, this is blockchain. We need to get the regulatory framework in place to enable these companies and others to thrive here, but we could very much become the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean and that is something to aspire to.”

In a joint statement issued by the Central Bank of Barbados with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), both institutions have recognized that fintech innovation could play a critical role in safely lowering the costs of financial transactions, while offering more efficient services to consumers without undermining the financial system.

To that end they have established a framework for a regulatory sandbox, which could last between eight to 12 weeks, to give the regulators an idea of how it will work as well as provide the clarity necessary for businesses offering innovative fintech services, solutions and products.

“One outcome is that having tested it, we don’t like what we see and there are too many risks for consumers, we regulate those activities. We regulate them in such a way that either the likelihood of loss is less or we regulate who can access it,” explained Economist and Chairman of the FSC, Avinash Persaud.

He said it could also attract new investors “that may want to try out a new product in Barbados and if it is successful they might want to try it out elsewhere,”  adding that within a year or so, the country would be in a position to go a joint sandbox with a regular in another country for firms who may be doing cross-border transaction.