My Take





I was recently shopping at our local health store for soap. Since I do not use soap that contains tallow (animal fat) I scrutinize ingredient lists.

I found a black soap made right here in Scarborough from plantain skin, cocoa pods, coconut oil, palm oil and shea butter. The label says it is safe to use on skin and hair.

That got me thinking about growing up on my parents’ flower farm in Africa. Even as pre-schoolers we helped to tie the flowers into bunches and stand them up in buckets of water for my father to deliver to flower shops.

My mother would bathe us kids using a gentle bar of soap on both our skin and hair. Each morning she would rub coconut oil into my sisters’ and my thick, rich, black, shiny hair and braid long plaits. Our skin was lovely and our hair was healthy probably because we were children but so was my mother’s and all she ever used was soap. It was only much later when we were in our late teens that we became interested in shampoos, conditioners and other fancy bath products packaged in growing layers of plastic.

I am not suggesting that we go back to the “good old days,” because today’s advances especially in medical treatments and technology are phenomenal. But I am suggesting that we look at our own little home environments and do what we can to preserve our fragile ecology.

Plastic has very important uses especially in modern medicine. But do we need all the plastic that has encroached into our daily lives in the form of multiple, repetitive, personal products like bath gels, shampoos, conditioners, bottled water, takeout containers, myriad toys and over-wrapped products?

Even though recycling is attempted in many municipalities, a large amount of plastic ends up in landfills where it will stay for centuries and in our oceans where it is endangering marine life. Land and sea animals ingest and are poisoned by plastic in its whole forms or in the partially disintegrated form called micro plastics or microbeads used in facial-scrub beauty products.

The sheer volume of plastics used by humans is mind-boggling. The organization Seas at Risk reports that Europe alone uses 46 billion plastic drinking bottles, 16 billion non-recyclable plastic-lined coffee cups, 36 billion plastic drinking straws and the list goes on. And even though here in Toronto we conscientiously recycle there are problems.

In a cbc radio interview, the manager responsible for paper recycling talked about how frustrating it is when a large pool of paper has to be thrown out because someone put a whole jar of mayonnaise into their blue bin. The mayo pollutes the paper and coats them with oils, thus making them non-recyclable. When we throw our jars into our blue bins we have to take one minute to empty and rinse the jars – the jams, sauces, achaars, etc., have oils and other ingredients that should not be in the blue bin.

Other small mistakes include flushing wet wipes, cotton buds, cigarette butts and other non-flushable items into our toilets which then end up in our waterways and oceans. And did you ever wonder where cruise ships throw out their garbage?

There are numerous authentic websites like, or that enlighten us on the problems we are creating by our insatiable appetite for plastics.

And plastics are not the only concern – gas guzzling cars, petroleum oil and industry smog, mining waste, untreated sewage in some countries, lead-acid batteries and toxins like mercury vapour often end up in plant, meat and fish food chains.

All of this sounds viscerally overwhelming. But Canadian eco-organizations like  and offer good advice about how we can help in our own small, individual ways to protect our earth, animals, people and ecosystems so our children’s children can also have a healthy earth after we are gone.



Dear Didi,

My friend has betrayed my trust a number of times and hurt me deeply. She apologizes, wants me back, and then does it again. She posts images with others when she said she was too tired or busy to hang out with me. Once she sent me an e-mail by mistake that was about me to another friend, not too complimentary... but every time I try to break it off, she makes such a scene.  – Sick of the drama 

It hurts when someone you are close to takes you for granted and betrays your trust. Although it may be hard to imagine now as you go through this drama over and over again – you will soon find friends come and go in your life. It’s just the way things are. As we learn, grow and evolve, we may have less and less in common with those who we thought were our friends for life. Sometimes it is circumstances that brings us together as friends – your parents are friends and you went along to dinner parties as a child so you hung out; you are in the same class at school or on the same sports/dance team; you are neighbours and so on. You may not have had any choice but to become friends. Now you have the chance to make the choice for what’s best for you as an individual. It’s best to really figure out if there is a relationship here that you want to salvage or make a clean break. You don’t really know what happens behind closed doors, so your friend may be dealing with some difficult situations. I know it isn’t any excuse, but it’s best to sometimes talk things out. If you choose to have a conversation with her, set parameters and discuss how you want to be treated, if both of you want your friendship to continue. You will have to make that decision. However, she could just be a high maintenance person, period.

It’s funny, when I was younger – a teenager – I asked my older sister (ten years older) who her best friend was and she told me that she didn’t have one. I gotta say my teenage self thought she must be a bit of a “loser” not to have a bestie. However, as I grew older and I hope wiser, I realized a large number of friends does not necessarily mean you have lots of support.

It’s really about the quality of the people in your life. One very good, supportive and loving friend trumps lots and lots of ordinary, selfish and self-involved peeps in yours. Concentrate on those that build you up and want to spend time with you rather than try to tear you down.

Life is truly too short for all the drama and if you are truly sick of the drama, call it a day!


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September is around the corner; so is the new school year. As parents, we face many choices. And one of those choices is the kind of education our children receive. We easily assume there is only one kind of education for our children and that is publicly, state funded education. Our choice, it seems, is limited to public school ‘A’ nearby or public school ‘B’ a little further down the street.

Yet, as parents, you might not necessarily be happy with the kind of education your children are receiving. The social and political agendas foisted on your children from a very young age do not reflect your values. You feel uncomfortable with what is being taught.

But as the saying goes, ‘we need to think outside of the box’. For your children, you have broader choices. There are privately funded schools. Hope Academy is one such school. It is a Christian mission elementary school open to children from all backgrounds and religions. It is an accredited school and has high academic standards. The focus is on reading, writing and arithmetic.

It is also a safe and caring environment. Being a smaller school, the children receive excellent, individual attention from caring and loving teachers. The teachers also work closely, openly and honestly with parents, desiring to see their children flourish and excel. The focus is on academics but it is also an environment where children learn obedience and respect. The teachers at Hope Academy see education as building blocks for the children’s future where they can contribute to the world with the knowledge they are already gaining.

A board of highly qualified men and women oversee Hope Academy. They volunteer their time, meet together frequently and take active interest by visiting the school, ensuring that all things are running smoothly. The board also keeps contact with the base of supporters who contribute financially toward this school. The tuition, we believe, is affordable to parents who wish to send their children. More importantly, we encourage parents to see Hope Academy as an investment in the future of their children.

We believe Hope Academy is a good choice for your child. The choice of a school for your children is one of the most important choices you can make in your life. Check out the school at


Reverend Tony Zekveld can be reached at 416-740-0543 and tzekveld@primus,ca.