Posted in Insights

Insecticides in foods? No problem. Activated Charcoal gets them out.

Hi guys. I am finally back from my long hiatus. Without wasting time, I would jump straight to what I want us to talk about today. I am sure you have heard rumours of our beans from northern Nigeria being sprayed with insecticides in a bid to prevent weevils from infesting the bags before they get to the southern markets. At first I thought it was the mallams who pushed in carts around Lagos that sprayed with insecticides until I saw this posted by a friend on WhatsApp:

Source: WhatsApp Status

I was at work so I could not scream. I posted it on my WhatsApp status and people began to ask for ways to save themselves from dying slowly because long term exposure to small doses of chemical insecticides have been found to induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems.

Before I go further, I would love to let you in a bit about myself and what I do for those of us who are new here. I am a trained environmental health practitioner and also a trained environmental manager. One of the responsibilities I have is to help people with simple everyday solutions to save themselves from the effects of environmental pollution which can come to them through the air they breathe (indoor and outdoor), the food they eat, the water they drink, skincare products etc.

I am not a carrier of doom and gloom, there will always be a solution and my job is to fish it out for you *winks*

Activated Charcoal to the rescue.

I remember my mum telling me about how she used to use charcoal to brush her teeth as a child and trust me, it sounded absurd until I read from different sources about its ability to adsorb harmful chemicals and prevent our bodies from absorbing them. This is thanks to the pores created on the surface area of the charcoal when it is subjected to anaerobic burning. It can be made from hardwood or even coconut shells. In this same way, it binds to toxic chemical in pesticides and insecticides in few minutes of soaking/washing them before consumption.

For my beans, after picking, I add a teaspoon of activated charcoal into the bowl of water to be used (about 4-8 cups) for soaking – I soak my beans for between 24-48 hours before cooking to help reduce the effects of the anti-nutrients in beans. I leave the beans in the charcoal for about 30 minutes before changing the water. For other fruits, I just leave for about 3-5 minutes like this lady here.

Get a jar of Activated charcoal in your pantry

The binding properties makes its versatile and it has been used in bath soaps, deodorant pastes, shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, and poison control. I have had a jar in my kitchen for a while now and I urge you to do same. Its might seem a bit pricey but looking at the value, its worth it and you would not exhaust it too soon. Based on the requests I got yesterday, I have ordered for a huge batch and its going to be dispensed in 100g, 200g, 500g and 1000g so I urge you to follow this blog by typing your email in and you will be notified when the batch arrives. It should be here in less than a week.

Did you learn a thing or two? Sharing is caring! Moreso the first 20 people to follow the blog get a 20% off the price.

*Delivery fees apply (the bikes run on fuel…)

Posted in Insights

Bad roads, traffic gridlocks and fear of rainfalls.

As I rushed to get the medication prescibed by my doc for my baby’s discomfort, rocking my clogs in the mud, I could not resist the urge to take a picture and make a short video of the present state of the road.

Residents do not pray for rainfall here because vehicles get damaged, fares go up, bikes are scarce and people get stranded.

Late 2017, houses on setbacks were demolished because of a road expansion project that got abandoned last year. There are no drainages, small downpour and eveyone gets messed up. The road is filled with micro potholes that give even bikes headache.

20190516_1837552141973737984063041.jpg
Owutu-Isawo Road 6.45pm Thursday 16th May, 2019

From a overall health perspective, people who live here are in the road as early as 3.30am and are still trying to get back home by 11pm. I have spent 4 hours travelling a distance less than 5 km in Ikorodu. They have families who need their real presence. Optimal physical, mental, emotional health are prerequisites to functional employees.

Regardless of whether it is a low-income area of the state, revenue is generated especially by the local government. I hope that his excellency, Mr Babajide Sanwoolu, the incoming governor would do something about this.
According to population.city, the estimated population of Ikorodu by 2019 will be 990,960 if population growth rate remained the same as in the period between 2006-2015 (+8.84%/year). Low-income communities have the power to shape their economic future, but only if they have access to tools that educate and empower. They also need sincere and committed leadership but unfortunately our local government leadership is close to non-functional.

From an environmental perspective, bad roads lead to longer commute time = more gas consumed per kilometer = more exhaust fumes. Cars spending time in floods and muddy waters cause cause exhaust systems to rust. A faulty exhaust system contributes to air pollution. You do not even want to see the inner streets, stagnant water has become the order of the day. Environmental health is about preventing diseases that are causes by environmental factors. We do not have to wait till disease outbreaks happen and we start to run helter skelter allocating funds that most times are not fully deployed for what they are meant for.

Development, a suatainable one at that is a product of deliberate and intentional efforts, will, commitment and sincerity.

This was supposed to be an instagram post but I had to switch to my blog.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

Every prime area was once underdeveloped and it took conscious effort to develop it.

Posted in Insights

Good to Great: Moving beyond compliance

The last piece I wrote on Due Diligence received great feedback. I was asked to talk about Moving beyond compliance as a standalone topic. Dear Mansu, this is for you! So, to the business of the day.

What does it mean to move beyond compliance?

Being compliant simply means you are aware about a set of rules and regulations guiding activities you are involved in and you try all your best to obey the rules so as to avoid penalties, fines or legal issues. In the business world today, unfortunately, this is the situation. Moving beyond compliance is taking extra steps to look at the rationale of compliance and seeking innovative ways to take advantage of compliance to save money and also make more money. I would love to use our hypothetical bakery Ethical bakeries – perhaps I might have a bakery one day.

Ethical Bakeries is located in Lagos and because the owner hates to pay fines or have legal issues with the government or anyone, the owner ensure that they comply with all applicable regulations – waste water quality, air emission quality, indoor air quality, solid waste disposal etc. One day, Ruky, a sustainability enthusiast walks into the bakery to grab some healthy bites and met the environmental, health and safety rep. She asked a few questions about how they maintain indoor air quality and the rep responded proudly that they complied with every regulation that covered their business. She was intrigued and asked why they did it. he responded by telling her that they had to be on the good side of the law. Impressed that we still had businesses that did not like to wait till problems arise, she went further to ask him “if the law did not require you to do all of these, would you still do it?” As he was about to respond, the owner of the business walked in on them and exchanged pleasantries. She asked the question again and there was a long silence.

If there no laws, would you still do it?

Imagine if there were no air pollution limits and you could pump out untreated water as you wish. What if you could treat workers as you deem fit, with no laws protecting them or you could churn out products with no regulatory testing for market fitness. Would you still take your time, money and energy to ensure that you business activities do not hurt people intentionally, managed environmental resources effectively, treated workers fairly? If you answered yes in your gut, accept my imaginary hug as I welcome you to the league of businesses that are on the path to become value and purpose driven. if ypou answered no in your gut, accept my imaginary hug too because you would have to schedule a meeting with me as we need to reevaluate why exactly you are in business then we can start from there.

Money-driven versus Purpose-driven

I would like to use the internet fraudster analogy. The driving force behind their dastardly acts is the quest for money. When money is the sole goal, you would do anything and damn the consequences as long as money was going to come in. This is why its easy for some shortsighted business owners to cut corners, evade tax, treat workers unfairly, and short pay suppliers. Meanwhile a business that has a purpose as its driving force would always go back and refer to the purpose of why they are in business even during down times. Purpose would help you move beyond compliance, integrate strategies that protect people, the environment in which you conduct business and continuously seek ways to be economically viable as you do all of these. If you are in the business of cooking meals, why are you cooking? Anyone can cook so what added value are you bringing? What would make people hand pick you out of a 100 people cooking meals?

Having no lawsuits can make you a good company but creating a culture around purpose would set you on a path to greatness. If Ray Anderson of Interface, Don Petersen of Ford, Phil Knight of Nike could do it, please take your time and innovate away.

Posted in Insights

Due Diligence and the practice of being on the good side of the law

After hours of brainstorming about what title would be appropriate for what I want share today, I settled for Due Diligence and the practice of being on the good side of the law.

For those who are not so clear on the exact meaning of due diligence, Google defines due diligence as “reasonable steps taken by a person to avoid committing a tort or offence”.

So here is the gist

Two weeks ago, I got a distress call from a friend who renders fumigation services to a big supermarket in Lagos. The State’s Environmental Protection Agency had paid a visit to their facility and a letter, sent to them to present the following:

  1. Environmental assessment report
  2. Evidence of environmental development charge paid
  3. Accredited certificate of their fumigator
  4. Picture of their solid waste receptacle
  5. Picture of their power generating set and diesel storage

The last three items posed no challenges but the first 2, they had no idea of!!! They had 2 days to report to the agency with the listed items. Unknown to them an environmental assessment report cannot be produced in 48 hours. An environment assessment helps to unveil the potential effects (positive and negative) certain activities would have on the environment. An environmental assessment in this situation, would look at every activity that ensures that the objectives of the business are met and outline the possible effects that each activity would have and ways the negative effects can be mitigated and controlled. Let’s look at this hypothetical bakery, Ethical Bakeries.

Ethical Bakeries is in the business of providing freshly baked gluten-free cakes, bread and cookies to cater to the sweet cravings of health-conscious people. Located in Ikeja, they have 10 staff members including a dispatch rider and security guard. The main activities carried out in a bakery include, among others:

  • Loading and unloading of raw materials and finished products
  • Storage of raw materials (flour, water, eggs, yeast, leavening agents, preservatives and other ingredients such as onions, herbs, olives, dried fruits etc.)
  • Preparation (mixing, shaping, placing in tins)
  • Baking (removing from tins, cooling, frosting, decorating)
  • Packing (slicing, wrapping, packaging)
  • Selling of products

The major environmental concerns associated with bakeries are:

  • Site selection
  • Solid waste
  • Waste-water
  • Noise
  • Odor and sanitary nuisances
  • Vehicular movement
  • Emissions and dust nuisances
  • Energy and water consumption

Based on the list above, an environmental assessment would look at the best way to manage each item to minimize the negative effects on the environment and comply with regulatory standards where applicable.

Know what to do, then do it RIGHT!

When people start making distress calls after been visited by regulatory bodies, one of two things cause it – not knowing to do in the first place or knowing what to do and intentionally trying to cut corners. This is common in Nigeria due to the weak institutions we have (this is a talk for another day). I always tell clients to seek to know what you are supposed to do then make sure you do it right. Ask questions, go to public offices and make necessary inquiries. It might seem weird but trust me, it’s the best thing to do in the interest of your business. There is no feeling as peaceful as knowing that no matter what regulatory body comes to your facility for inspections, you are always ready to tender every item they need, stress-free.  We all know that feeling of showing the road safety corps everything they ask for without the fear of being fined for non-compliance.

Going beyond compliance

Asides from being on the good side of the law and preventing fines and unnecessary legal issues, taking the extra steps to ensure that all activities have low negative impact on the environment and the people portrays a business as a responsible one. Doing the right thing solely for compliance purposes puts us under undue pressure because we would not be proactive and would most likely be making distress calls like my friend’s client. The hidden effects are lost work hours, unstable emotions among employees and disruption of business activities in some cases.

One may ask, “What does it take to move beyond compliance?”

Identifying what values guide you as a business. Understanding this will help to bring together the right team and cut out inconsistencies. When everyone puts their feet forward to do the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing to do, the path towards sustainability will be set clear.