Give Up Non-Stick Cookware

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog, Green Tips

Give up non-stick cookware. Did you know that non-stick pots and pans are coated with certain toxic chemicals which may cause health problems, particularly when they are heated to high temperatures? Fumes are strong enough to cause polymer-fume fever, a temporary flu-like condition marked by chills, headache, and fever. Adults will survive this exposure but they are dangerous for the health of children and pet birds have been known to die from exposure to these fumes. The two chemicals found in non-stick cookware are PFOA and PFOS. PFOA is being phased out in the US due to the associated dangers. Be in the know; choose stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead!

A new sister and not a baby in sight!

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

The one thing that still surprises me a little about Cyprus is how much better we could be in the organic sector and about green matters in general. We have the benefit of an excellent setting for the production of organic foods but it still remains to be exploited.

This may be attributed to the lack of adequate research, education and financial support to encourage farmers to produce organically, as well as the desire for quick profit on the part of most farmers. But I believe there are economic opportunities staring us in the face even as we battle through economic difficulties, but little is being done to promote something that would be great for us and the island.  
When I set up The Yum Company I decided from the offset that I would produce organically and because there’s not very much in the way of organic raw materials available, it was a struggle in the beginning to source regular organic ingredients. It has got better but it could be a whole lot better – and that’s not just for me as a manufacturer but for consumers on the whole. It’s not just about the availability of organic products, it’s the prices too which remain on the whole, rather high.
Whether things will improve in the near future, it remains to be seen. With the lack of farming subsidies and education on these matters that we have mentioned, as well as the current economic climate, it seems that for now at least, it’s not a priority on our economic agenda.
It’s not surprising to hear then that Cyprus stills ranks among the lowest in the EU-27 ranking of area under organic production. Undoubtedly, there’s room for improvement. More in the way of promoting the organic food industry as well as green issues in general too – it all goes hand in hand. I a believer in what I’ve said many times before; green’s the way to go. It’ll be good for the country.
And perhaps this is what has inspired me to introduce my new site Green Cyprus, a new ‘sister’ site for The Yum Company! Green Cyprus  is a way of bringing together everything organic, green and eco-friendly in Cyprus under one roof. I wanted to find a way to share the sources of information we have with residents and visitors to the island – a kind of showcase for all things organic and green that we’re good at. And before you ask, of course The Yum Company’s meals are featured on the site too!
From regular up-to-date news and articles to a directory of organisations providing green products or services, I am striving to make Green Cyprus, the island’s most comprehensive green guide. In Cyprus, despite our poor organic record, you can still find a good variety of organic food and wine, stay in an eco-hotel, enjoy an organic health spa and participate in green activities.
Green Cyprus is for everyone interested in eating organically, living a cleaner, greener lifestyle and those who care about their environment. I am currently busy working on more content which will include a green products & services directory, a regular blog featuring discussions on all things organic & green (which you can of course, still continue to read on Cyprus News Report), green chat, with informative articles in the press and green kids, offering your children an insight into being green. Soon there will be an on-line shop too offering some great green products!
If you or anyone you know is in the organic or green business and would like to be featured on the site and included in the Green Directory, please email me at [email protected]
I hope that the site will become a one-stop-shop which will help promote local organisations and assist consumers in finding what they’re looking for if it’s related to organic or green matters in Cyprus.
For now, there’s still more work to be done – more work on the site and more Yum Company meals to cook. It’s a busy life but I hope what I am doing will at least be one small contribution in helping to promote the organic industry we do have together with providing more accessibility to a green life in Cyprus.

Green Kids

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

As we become more and more concerned with the environmental impact of our actions, it is a good decision to talk about these issues with our children and show them how they too can incorporate more responsible practices into their daily routines. The following ten tips for kids who want to go green will help them get moving in the right direction:

1.) Ask mum for green school supplies. Going to school and going green can go hand in hand! Kids can get green school supplies that will make a difference. For example, recycled paper/exercise books, project materials, pencils, pens, etc are available on our doorstep. We’ve seen these kind of products at Kyriacou Bookshops. They even stock recycled pens made out of recycled plastic water bottles – cool!

2.) Walk, car share or take the bus to school. Less carbon emissions come from less burned fuel. We have to use petrol to run most of today’s cars so, let’s use as little of it as we can, not least because it’s so expensive! When you share a ride with others, it means fewer people have to use petrol, and when you walk or bike there is no fuel burned at all…except your breakfast!

3.) Turn off the water while showering and brushing teeth. Most people let the water run while soaping up or brushing, but that wastes water. Run the water to get your towel and body or toothbrush wet and then wash or brush with the water off. It saves water AND money because like petrol, water is expensive and scarce!

4.) Eat organic! Organic food which is readily available in Cyprus is food grown without pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals. Get the lowdown on the benefits of eating organic by visiting    producers of fresh organic ready food here in Cyprus. Also, consider asking your teacher to start an organic garden at school and create compost for it. It’s a great way to learn about growing fruit & vegetables and teaches you how it can be done without the use of nasty pesticides and chemicals.

5.) Turn off lights and appliances/electronics when not in use. Children don’t usually think about turning off lights and appliances because in general they are not cost conscious. That means children are wasteful. (Don’t worry – your parents did it when they were kids, too!) Children who reduce, reuse, and recycle know that wastefulness is not good, and one thing they do not waste is energy. Although cleaner energy is becoming more common, no energy should be wasted. When you’re not using lights or appliances/electronics (TV, computer, video games, etc.) turn them off! You know it’s sensible.

6.) If your parents recycle, follow their example and ask them to show you how to sort it too. The family that recycles together stays together! Sometimes parents don’t realise how much you care. Going green is a lifestyle, so get in on the day-today activities by doing your part.

7.) Volunteer with community organisations that plant trees or participate in similar environmental projects. Trees help us enjoy cleaner air and more beautiful landscapes. Get help finding organisations where you live who plant trees, and then volunteer to help!

8.) If you’re helping with the washing-up, remember to hand-wash dishes or only run the dishwasher for full loads. Most people don’t realise that dishwashers use considerably more water to wash a load of dishes than the traditional sink method does. So, to conserve water, it’s best not to use the dishwasher at all. If you do, use eco-friendly dishwashing detergent and only run the washer when it is completely full. If it’s not full or if you can, choose to wash dishes in the sink instead, of course, with eco-friendly dishwashing liquid.

9.) Reduce waste by reducing your use of disposables. It’s easy to use throwaway cups, plates, wrappers, and utensils, but it only creates more waste for landfills. Also, disposable paper products like facial and bathroom tissue and paper towels and napkins also end up in the rubbish. We can save more trees by using less paper products, and we can keep more plastics and polystyrene out of the landfills by using less throwaway utensils and containers. Also, eating less often at fast-food restaurants cuts down on your usage of these items, too. You know it isn’t healthy anyway!

10.) Ease up on the video games. Playing video games on both computers and systems uses a lot of energy! That’s why your system or computer feels hot afterwards! You can save on energy by simply doing homework or going outside to play instead of posting up in front of the TV or computer screen. Mum will be pleased too! This activity uses more electricity than regular TV or computer usage, so it should be kept to a minimum.

Smart Thinkers Think Green

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

I am always pleased to hear about businesses and organisations who have realised that adopting green or ethical policies is more than just a ‘marketing ploy’ to win customers. Regular readers of my blog may recall that Google is one such company. It provides healthy, organic food for its employees which is often cited as a important benefit of working for them.

So, as you can imagine, I was delighted to discover that eBay has a devoted green site called Green eBay I’m not sure that a lot of people know about it but it is really good and I recommend a visit there – from green driving and kids toys to clothing and light bulbs, it really is an innovative concept and a great shopping experience in true eBay fashion!

Green eBay was started as a group of 40 passionate eBay employees who wanted to make the company a truly green place to work. The team now comprises 2,500 eBay employees in over 25 countries, all promoting green, sustainable business practices within eBay, volunteering in their communities, and supporting environmental legislation. The eBay Green Team members are committed to a greener lifestyle of better products, better business, and a better way of living. This is the main reason I believe it works – their passion filters through to the customer; you know they really believe in what they’re doing. And of course, there are many great products on there too!

They were savvy enough to realise that real positive environmental impact happens when people make seemingly small, eco-friendly choices on a regular basis andthat this impact can really add up. They also believe that being green shouldn’t come at a high price and that eco-friendly actions should actually save you money – that it should literally pay to be green. A very switched-on attitude and absolutely true! It is out of this belief that their latest innovation, eBay Green Driving, was developed which was designed to provide drivers with ways to reduce both money spent at the pump as well as their environmental impact. With petrol prices heading in one direction only, there’s never been a better time to green your driving and ease some of the pressure on your finances.

It is perceptions such as these that puts eBay ahead of the game – they have learnt that adoption of green policies is an important strategic tool. These days with soaring prices, many of us have no choice but to lead a more frugal lifestyle and if being green’s one way of doing it, then it doesn’t seem quite so bad!  

eBay is not the only large corporate embracing green practices. Although I wouldn’t say they possess the same ethics or have adopted green policies in the same way that eBay has, H&M, the world’s second  largest clothing retailer is also trying to remake itself as a greener option and is now positioning itself as the ethical solution; the retailer that can make ethics and fast fashion synonymous.

Recent finanicial reports have indicated some impressive sustainable figures: for example nearly 2.5 million pairs of shoes were made last year using lower-impact water-based solvents; all building contractors have signed a code of conduct to ensure "good" working conditions; recycled polyester equivalent to 9.2 million plastic bottles has been used and H&M uses more organic cotton in production than any other group. This year, 7.6% of its cotton was organic. By 2020, 100% will be sustainably sourced cotton.

While H&M is by no means perfect, today’s fashion’s production system is reliant on low-wage production in some of the poorest countries of the world. You’ve heard the stories about cheap labour, but at least H&M are getting better by trying to improve and be as good as possible at sustainability. Whilst acknowleding that there is more to do, they are working in many ways to achieve it having realised the importance of greener solutions.

I believe many other companies have also realised the importance of greener policies. For instance, I recently purchased organic cotton t-shirts in Zara and Benetton stores. They were also reasonably priced, a real bonus! Also, with food never far from my thoughts, another Swedish store, IKEA (Swedes are good at this kind of thing aren’t they, or are they just smart?!) now has an organic food section within its sales area featuring a small selection of reasonably-priced organic foods such as pasta, jams and drinks. No doubt there are other companies also doing similar things and as andwhen I discover them, I will report on them here!

The evidence is clear that smart thinkers are thinking green with companies increasingly using green strategies as part of their business models. Perhaps they have realised that it’s a great formula to win customers? Of course we’re in no doubt they are ultimately commercially driven. But, there is a feel-good factor associated with ethical shopping and if, as eBay has shown, it can actually help reduce your spending whilst saving you money, then there’s no doubt in my mind that for companies and consumers alike, green’s the way to go. As the title of the blog says; smart thinkers think green!  

All About Eggs!

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

Being Easter-time, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about eggs and take a look in some detail at ‘real’ eggs as well as a variety which may perhaps be a little more appealing at this time of the year; chocolate eggs, which definitely get my vote!

So, first of all let’s look at ‘real’ eggs as I referred to them. Love them or loathe them, one thing for sure is that eggs have a unique chemistry and are an essential cooking andbaking ingredient. They are also an extremely varied food, coming from all sorts of sources and in a variety of colours.

Colours of eggs, while often regarded as an important element of purchasing eggs, is actually not important. Common belief is that brown eggs are healthier than white (my mother always used to tell me that!) but the truth is that the colour is not a factor – it’s the contents that matter. It is what the chicken eats and the way in which the chicken is kept that has an effect on how healthy the contents of the eggs are.

Varieties of eggs are extremely diverse. While chicken eggs are most common, duck eggs, quail eggs and even ostrich eggs can be bought for consumption. Each type of egg has a distinct flavour and chemistry. Duck eggs cannot usually be used in traditional baking recipes in place of chicken eggs, but they’re great poached on toast. Quail eggs are very small, but quickly cooked or even raw (organic only, of course!). Chicken eggs are, of course, very versatile and likely to be the most commonly used in your kitchen.

Eggs have many health benefits. They are full of high-quality protein (each egg contains 6.3 grams of protein), and are low in calories at about 68 calories per egg. They contain choline, a key component of cell membranes, especially brain cells and neurotransmitters, without which our bodies can become deficient in folic acid. An increased consumption of choline has proven to decrease inflammation, which, when it becomes a chronic problem, can lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and osteoperosis. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two important carotenoids which help protect vision and reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration of the eyes.

But aren’t eggs supposed to be notoriously high in cholesterol? They are, but nutritionists have foundin recent years that high blood cholesterol actually comes from the consumption of saturated fat, not from dietary cholesterol. Eating one or two eggs a day is completely reasonable for someone on a healthy diet with regards to cholesterol. On the contrary, eggs are good for your heart and have been proven to help prevent blood clots thanks to the proteins within the yolk.

Eggs are one of the best and easiest sources of protein, and they are also one of the most important foods to buy organic. Not only do commercial eggs come from chickens that are fed hormones and chemical feeds, but the egg shell is extremely porous, and everything in the egg’s environment such as chicken droppings and soil filled with chemicals can enter the egg itself. Organic eggs come from chickens fed organic feed. Organic feed, without antibiotics and hormones, is very important when it comes to the quality of the eggs so it makes perfect sense to buy organic eggs, guaranteeing you the best in nutritional value. Organic eggs are now widely available from supermarkets and healthshops and are produced locally and organically by Ayia Skepi and Petrides.

Now time to move onto the chocolate variety! We all love Easter but it’s worth knowing that many chocolate eggs are loaded with preservatives and hydrogenated fats, and made with conventionally-grown ingredients. Some of the ‘cheaper’ unheard of brands of Easter Eggs that you can buy here from some stores taste appalling, probably because, suspect ingredients aside, their cocoa content is minimal. But it’s not just the taste….it’s where they originate from and the fact that there are some serious ethical concerns regarding their production. It is estimated that nearly 15,000 children work on cocoa farms in West Africa and Latin America for very little money, while hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest have been destroyed to make way for cocoa plantations. But despite the ethical qualms, our appetite for cocoa shows no signs of abating. With 40 per cent of chocolate estimated to have been grown by child labourers, one of our favourite treats can leave a bitter taste.

Chocolate is never more popular than at Easter. Thanks to concerns about the provenance of cocoa beans, Easter is neither ethical or green. But thankfully for chocolate-lovers like me, you don’t have to miss out. What’s required is a savvier, more sensible approach and buying Fairtrade and organic chocolate is the obvious way to go both from an ethical and taste point of view.

Whilst some companies such as Cadbury’s take a more ethical stance and others such as Lindt and Ferrero unfortunately have a way to go, I am delighted that at least we are able to buy organic Easter Eggs here from one of my favourite manufacturers of organic chocolate; Green & Black’s, a limited selection of which are available from Alphamega. I’m not sure whether any other brands of organic Easter Eggs are available in Cyprus – I have not seen any – however, I have tasted many brands of organic chocolate and my opinion is that the quality and taste of Green & Black’s takes some beating! If you are a real chocolate connossieur, you may have already tried raw chocolate and although not available in Cyprus, UK company offers a range of organic raw chocolate Easter Eggs which you may wish to note, although I would advise you to try raw chocolate first because although it is superior chocolate in many ways, not least for its high antioxidant levels, it is very much an acquired taste.

Whatever your choice of eggs for consumption during this festive period, have a Happy Easter!  

My Top Organic Buys

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

Being involved with organic food, I often get asked by friends and family for advice on buying organic. Not just organic food, but other items too. So, I have taken the opportunity to compile a list of some important organic must-buys as well as some of my favourite organic and eco-friendly products which I am either knowledgeable about or have stumbled upon through my continuing search for all things organic!

1. Organic food. I’m a believer in the saying ‘you are what you eat’ and eating pesticide and additive-free organic food is certainly much safer for your health. Yes, it can be expensive but what price your health? For this reason I consider organic food a must-buy. Even if it’s not possible or practical to buy everything organic, at the very least, play safe when purchasing fruit and vegetables and avoid the ‘dirty dozen’ i.e. those containing the highest pesticide levels. Another essential is organic milk, if you consume dairy. Charalambides sell organic semi-skimmed milk in selected outlets which is superior to non-organic milk, the production practices of which I’m sure my readers know about! 

2. Organic supplements. There are a variety of food supplements which can boost your overall health and well-being. Perhaps I will devote an entire blog to this subject in the near future because there are many beneficial ‘superfoods’ available, but for now I will mention two supplements that are available here at Holland & Barrett; Organic Spirulina powder which I use in smoothies and The Groovy Food Company’s Organic Cool Oil which I add to salads and soups. Both products cost under 20 euros and contain all the essential omega oils which are vital for good health as they contain the right kind of fats.

3. Eco-friendly household cleaners. I have mentioned these items in previous blogs so I’ll keep it brief; my current favourite is the Eco-Planete range of cleaners from Carrefour as they are very reasonably priced and effective.

4. Organic deodorant. Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants can contain aluminium which not only clogs the pores but can also enter the bloodstream increasing the levels of aluminium in the body. The alcohol contained in these conventional products also has a drying effect on the skin and can transport other chemicals into the bloodstream. Basically, they work by blocking the sweat glands so that you don’t perspire. That doesn’t sit well with me – sweat’s got to come out somewhere! Apart from that, they can even make your armpits itch! Some of the natural deodorants may be less effective and having tried a lot of safer alternatives, I back crystal deodorants. I always stock up on Pit-Rock crystal spray from the UK which works brilliantly, even in the Cyprus heat. is now stocking a similar brand which is available here.  

5. Organic skincare. 60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. That’s a fact andsince most of your regular mainstream brands are petrochemical-based – andyes, even Johnson’s baby products – rubbing these lotions andpotions into your skin causes toxic overload. It’s a no-no. My personal favourites as I have mentioned before are Dr Hauschka, Melvita andsome of Apivita’s skincare products. There are of course a lot of brands on the market but I find these effective time and time again. Obviously these kinds of products are very much a personal choice and I would be very keen to hear from any readers who have any other favourite and effective products. Please drop me an email.

6. Organic cotton/clothing. Perhaps it doesn’t always cross our minds to seek out organic clothing andcotton in particular which is grown using high amounts of pesticides but whenever I have bought organic clothing in the past, I am always pleased by the natural feel andtexture of the material. Some of the mainstream stores now offer some organic cotton items. For example H&M and Zara do a range of organic cotton tops as well as a range for children. But it’s also worth seeking out on-line retailers who specialise in this kindof thing such as as they offer unique and top quality items.  If you are looking for baby/toddler items then visit for a brilliant range of eco-friendly clothes and other products. I have bought from Green Baby in the past. Their clothing is stylish and the quality is excellent.

7. Organic paint. Household paints for walls, wood and masonry contain very toxic chemicals such as solvents which can cause health problems. If you’re looking at re-decorating your home to freshen up your home environment, I would recommendusing organic paints. I am not sure whether these are available in Cyprus but when I lived in the UK, I had the whole house painted using ECOS organic paints Not only are they odourless, they come in fab colours and of course, you feel safe knowing that you won’t have any nasty chemicals leaching into your atmosphere. They are more expensive than the leading market brands but since painting your home only tends to happen every few years, It’s definitely a price worth paying.

8. A ticket to Iceland. OK, I haven’t checked into the departure lounge just yet as holidays are not on my agenda right now! However, I felt that Iceland deserved a place on this list. Said to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, featuring glaciers, volcanoes, andeven waterfalls, Iceland tops the list of being the greenest country in the world. Though a pretty small island, Iceland has founda way to ensure that despite its size, it would be making a huge impact on becoming eco-friendly. Because of its location, Iceland has focused on using its geothermal landscape to utilize clean electricity and heat. The most commonly used source for heat and electricity is hydrogen, and the country hopes to become the first to be entirely reliant upon this energy source.  Not only will the hydrogen energy be used by homeowners and those who occupy buildings, it is also used for transportation. The government of Iceland has provided hydrogen-powered buses to ensure people can get to their destinations in an eco-friendly way. To go along with the buses, Iceland has put a lot of focus on the Mercedes Benz A-Class F-Cell. This car is also fueled by hydrogen and can go up to 100 miles on a full tank. Though the country wasn’t always so green, having depended on imported coal for 70% of its energy, nowadays, Iceland can proudly say that only 18% of its energy sources come from coal, the other 82% is pure hydrogen and geothermal power. While it may seem like a tough goal, by 2050, Iceland’s minister of industry and energy, Össur Skarphédinsson, hopes to have the country be carbon and oil free. Shouldn’t we follow in their footsteps or at least give some aspects a try?!  

So, there you have it; my current list of organic and eco-friendly recommendations which I will be updating in the near future. My mission to seek out and pass on practical information relating to all things organic continues, along with my day job at The Yum Company of course!  

Long Live (Green) Life

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

Living a greener lifestyle requires commitment but in this day and age it is increasingly important to try and embrace green principles which I believe give us a better quality of life. 

With a few exceptions, most of us live in a world where it is difficult to avoid eating and breathing-in environmental toxins. It’s also a fact that we are in the midst of a fat epidemic. Overweight andobesity are serious health risks that I wrote about in my recent blog “What’s up with our kids’ diet?”

So what’s the connection between toxins and being overweight? It is not by accident that obesity levels are rising alongside the increase in environmental toxins. The extra inch or two you might be carrying aroundyour waist could actually be toxic-waste storage sites!

There are many factors that contribute to weight gain; lack of exercise, over-sized fast food meals and one factor that is often overlooked by traditional diets is toxic overload. This could account for the fact that some of us have difficulty losing weight because our bodies are full of poisons.

These poisons or toxins can come from many sources including pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and other things found in the food that we eat as well as chemicals found in our cleaning products, hair care products, make-up and toiletries.

When toxins accumulate in the body, the liver and other organs try to filter them out of the body. When the liver is overloaded, it cannot efficiently burn body fat and the toxins are stored in fat cells. The more toxins the body is storing, the more fat it is likely to accumulate and retain. Toxins stored in fat cells are difficult to get rid of through dieting alone. When the body is overloaded with toxins, the body transfers its energy away from burning calories and uses that energy to work harder to detoxify the body. In other words, the body does not have the energy to burn calories.

So, I believe we all owe it to ourselves to detox our bodies not simply to lose weight, but in order to reduce toxin intake and experience a greener quality of life.  Here are some important steps towards achieving this:  

1. Flush the body of toxins with an herbal or nutrition cleanse. There are plenty of these kind of products on the market which can give you a kick-start. Several years ago, my nutritionist, Gillian McKeith recommended Dr Vogels De-Tox Box which was very good. There are now plenty of other brands around in pharmacies or through health shops & herbalists if you wish to undergo a body cleanse.  

2. Exercise. I know! I find it difficult too, not least because of work, I have limited free time. But it is very important for the body to function andcleanse so it’s a good idea to try and fit in some form of exercise. I love the sea so a brisk sea-side walk is never a chore!  

3. Eat organic fruits and vegetables to avoid the chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides generally found in produce. Of course this is my speciality as I run an organic food company! Apart from eating my own branded meals , I always make a point of buying everything organic where possible. Some people say it is often expensive and yes, I agree to an extent, but I do believe there’s no such thing as ‘cheap food’ – someone, somewhere pays the price and I will be discussing this topic in a forthcoming blog. I prefer to pay for quality food and cut back on other less important and unnecessary items.  

4. Choose organic meat to avoid the hormones and antibiotics found in non-organic meats. This is a bit tricky in Cyprus. If you are a meat-eater and wanting to buy organic I am not aware of any LACON certified producers of meat such as beef and lamb on the island although I have heard that some farmers do produce additive-free meat. Organic chicken is, however, available from health shops.  

5. Choose unprocessed foods to avoid preservatives, dyes, nitrates, and nitrites which are present in cooked meats, salami, ham, bacon, etc. These additives are very toxic to your system.  

6. Choose natural skin and hair products that don’t contain chemicals and dyes. The skin is a source of absorption as well as elimination. This area is of particular interest to me because research has shown that 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body. I think that’s a good enough reason to seek out skin-friendly products. I have some personal favourite products: Melvita and Dr Hauschka make wonderful products which are highly effective. I also avoid the use of chemical sunscreens within these products as I believe them to be toxic. Dr Organic make a good, reasonably priced range of toiletries which are available at Holland & Barrett and some pharmacies. A good range of organic skincare & toiletries are also available from Nicosia’s Organic Fusion Skincare Boutique and you can also order on-line. I’m also very cautious about hair colourants. Fortunately, Apivita now do a much kinder range of permanent hair-colourant which avoids the use of hazardous chemicals and are available in a wide range of colours. It’s a shame that I have not yet found a hairdresser in Cyprus who uses earth-friendly, non or safer chemical dyes like one of my favourites – US company AVEDA. Oh, for an AVEDA salon in Cyprus!  

7. Avoid household toxins to rid your home of chemicals by using green cleaners. In recent months, I have seen an increasing number of these products in the supermarkets and health shops. Ecover is well-known brand that comes to mind and they are good products but also check out Greek company Planet’s cleaning products, washing powder, washing up liquid, etc. They’re really good as is Carrefour’s new Eco Planet, a cost-effective range of household cleaners which actually smell good enough to eat – even their toilet cleaner!  

8. Take steam baths or saunas. I’m a big fan of saunas and they are a very effective way of eliminating toxins. A daily sauna session of 15 minutes can assist detox by excreting toxins through the skin andalso help reduce both body weight andbody fat as well. I know the scorching hot Cyprus summers don’t exactly make you want to jump into an even hotter furnace so you may be better off frequenting them in the cooler months!  

9. Maintenance. Once the body is free of toxins, it is much easier to maintain optimal weight. A good low-glycemic diet and fitness routine is a must.  

10. Drink water. It goes without saying that drinking filtered or spring water is a must. Opinions vary on how much you should drink but make sure you keep frequently hydrated especially in the hot summer months.  

And finally, here are a few hints and tips for minimising your household toxins:  

1. Use natural cleaners in your home.

2. Install water filters to eliminate the chlorine and other chemicals found in your water. At the very least, drink and cook with filtered or spring water.

3. Install air filters and/or air purifiers. Definitely next on my agenda to help deal with all the dust clouds we get on this island!

4. Change the air conditioning filters in your house often. Get the ducts cleaned frequently as dangerous bacteria can breed very quickly andyou don’t want to be breathing these in.

5. Use plants such as spider, aloe, andpeace lily to help filter your household air.  

Going green and living green will help you live a longer and healthier life. A little time and commitment and everyone can reap the benefits. We owe it to ourselves and there’s no better time to start than now!  

Green’s The Way to Go

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

With the current financial crisis and predictions for 2012 looking bleak, you may begin to wonder what the future holds for Cyprus. The state of the world economy is apparent and we too have our own economic issues such as the price of food, electricity & petrol which has soared. Even if you adopt an optimistic outlook, it is fair to say that the state of affairs isn’t good and we know that there is no quick fix. Many complex economic factors come into play so it’s not always possible to change things for the better, certainly in the short term.

Economics aside, what we can begin to do, is look at aspects that we can have some influence over. We can turn our attention towards making positive things happen which will help our country bounce back in the longer term.

Where do we begin? That’s a tough one and as I’m not an economist, I don’t have the answers. But like most people, I have my opinions. We could start by cleaning the place up a bit, for example. Yes, really! There’s one big reason for doing this and that’s tourism.

Tourism is our biggest export. Tourism has suffered in recent years for a number of reasons. Cyprus has become expensive and is therefore not as attractive as it was but there are other factors too which from what I can see relate to the overall holiday experience here. Yes, we have the sun, sea and culture but do these aspects alone give us the edge over competing holiday destinations? Not any more. Attracting tourists is a crucial for boosting our economy so we need to take action.

That’s why I am talking about cleaning up our act; the roads & pavements, the beaches, the parks, countryside and other open areas, shopping areas – you name it. Let’s face it, we don’t have a reputation for being very clean and so many places you come across are badly maintained or scruffy, not to mention all the graffiti everywhere you look. Rubbish seems to be dumped anywhere there’s spare land, cigarette ends litter many pavements and beaches and it’s not uncommon to see people throwing their rubbish out of car windows. We seem to continue turning a blind eye to these goings-on. Isn’t it about time we implemented a zero-tolerance approach on littering, with hefty fines for offenders?

Recycling also needs to play a more important role in the way we deal with our rubbish. Although the authorities here do have a recycling programme, we could do much more, such as installing recycling bins (and lets face it, more refuse bins!) throughout the towns, countryside and beach areas. Obviously cleaning up the environment means more than just cleaning up the streets, but it’s a start. Cleaning up is good for the environment, good for us and good for tourism!

If you need evidence that this is the case, here’s an example. In preparation for hosting the 2012 Olympics, London has installed interactive recycling bins across the capital in a bid to reduce waste. The bins deliver electronic information such as breaking news, transport timetables andadvertisements via an LED screen on the side. By the start of the London 2012 Olympics, they will have 200 installed which will extend their reach to over 3 million people.

It’s not all bad though. Things are beginning to happen. There are some good initiatives currently under way like the Limassol Marina and Nicosia’s application for the 2017 European City of Culture. This in particular is great because it promotes our culture around the world…but it would be far better if, in addition to showing off our culture, we could show everyone how clean and green we are too!

Establishing more venues with an emphasis on nature is important too because these are the kind of things people want to see. Several years ago whilst holidaying in Cancun, Mexico, I visited Xcaret eco theme park. Although it was a theme park, it was not one with all the rides as you might imagine. It was superb because it promoted the flora and fauna of Mexico in an educational and fun way for adults and children alike. I bought the best chemical-free sun lotion ever in one of their souvenir shops because you weren’t allowed to swim in their streams with chemical sunscreens. That’s how strict they were but it was their all-round eco-ethics that made the park memorable! Just goes to show; if you are committed, it works! Visitors want to see the real Cyprus and cleaning up the place will certainly help. It is also worth mentioning that agrotourism is becoming increasingly popular so it makes sense to step up our marketing activities in this area. We already have an agrotourism industry which is ideal for both tourists and residents wanting an eco-break.

While I am by no means imagining that a blanket application of green policies will solve our economic problems, I do believe that adopting greener practices could play a key part in safeguarding the future of the island.

There are lots more ideas that could be put into practice to make for a cleaner and greener Cyprus and I have merely scratched the surface but these are a few steps in the right direction which I believe will definitely have long-term positive repercussions on the country as a whole.

What’s Up With Our Kids’ Diets?

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

Because I’m involved with food on a daily basis, I regularly make a point of posting on my about food issues. I have on several occasions commented on the Cypriot diet and in particular, what our children eat.

Years ago, the Cypriot diet with its abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses and lashings of olive oil was much healthier than of recent times. Nowadays, evidence has shown that we are shunning the diet that is part of our culture. The Greek/Mediterranean diet is known for being one of the healthiest in the world but here in Cyprus, it seems to be going out of fashion, particularly with the younger generation. No prizes for guessing what kinds of food have become more popular in recent years! Unfortunately, it is our children who are now paying the price.

A survey conducted late in 2011 by the Research and Education Institute for Child Health monitored about 2,500 children in Cyprus as part of a five-year Europe-wide €13 million project funded by the European Commission.

It concluded that children in Cyprus eat fattier and saltier foods, exercise the least and on top of that barely get enough sleep in comparison to those in northern Europe. Children in Cyprus topped the chart when it came to eating salty snacks and chocolate and brought up the rear when it came to cooked vegetables. Seven in ten children replaced healthy food with crisps, chocolates, pastries and other similar snacks.

We appear to have abandoned the core Mediterranean diet of fresh fruit, vegetables andpulses in favour of what is basically fast or ‘junk food’. It was even found that children’s consumption of olive oil lies just at the European average when surely you would expect it to be higher. Children in Cyprus also ranked low in terms of calcium consumption andomega 3 fats which are necessary for healthy cells. About three in five did not get enough vitamin C or A. These vitamins protect the organism against fat oxidisation which causes cancers as well as clogging up arteries. The overall finding in this study was that one in six Cypriot children who participated in the survey was considered obese.

This is a worrying statistic. I made a point of looking around– schools, restaurants, cafes, play zones andother places that children frequent as well as taking into consideration the general day-to-day activities of, let’s say, a ‘typical’ family. I quickly came to the conclusion that these statistics appear to be pretty accurate.

You only have to look around yourself to see what I mean. Observe any school playground and you’ll see more overweight children than ever before. Unhealthy diets fuelled by nutrition-less, carb-filled, calorie-laden snacks which children often buy from kiosks and school tuck shops don’t help matters, nor do unhealthily packed lunch boxes. There is also a huge fondness for all things sweet. There are cake shops and bakeries virtually on every street in Cyprus and they are always busy – many of the items you can buy there like cakes and pastries are making their way into the lunch boxes I spoke about!

I believe that these items have become for many people like an addiction, as has the fast food so much loved by the younger generation. Add to this, the general reluctance to go anywhere on foot and you begin to see where the problems lie and indeed, that it’s us adults who are to blame!

Will we be able to turn this situation around? Yes, because we have to. Striving for good health and adopting a healthy diet is common sense. Unfortunately it doesn’t help that there is an apparent lack of education on health issues and I for one would certainly like to see this change, but in the meantime, we cannot ignore the situation as our children will continue to pay the price for bad eating and lifestyle habits with their health.

As parents, it’s up to us to make healthier dietary choices because we influence what our children eat. And we need to jump on board too by setting good examples. It’s not difficult. It just requires commitment and awareness of bad food choices that are so readily available and making sure you and your children avoid them. There’s plenty of healthy food, fruit & vegetables, snacks anddrinks in the supermarkets & health shops andit goes without saying that many items are available organically-grown, including olive oil. And of course these days, you can even get The Yum Company organic fresh ready meals which are healthy, nutritious and great for kids too! 

Here are my suggestions for a healthy school lunch box:

Include: nuts, chopped fruit or vegetables e.g. apple, banana, carrot, cucumber tomato, dried fruit e.g. apricots, dates, mini rice cakes, piece of cheese e.g. halloumi, small pot of organic yogurt. If I am including a sandwich, I usually add mashed avocado and mix in a splash of Cool Oil omega 369 (available from Holland & Barrett) or flax or pumpkinseed oil. I always use organic where possible. As for drinks, juices are best avoided as they are full of sugar and bad for your children’s health as well as their teeth. Mineral water is ideal.

Exclude: pastries, processed meat products e.g. sausage rolls, salty crisps, sweets, cakes, sugary, fizzy drinks andso called ‘energy’ drinks. As if you didn’t know!  

From Google to Pangasius

Author: Green Cyprus  //  Category: Green Cyprus Blog

There are some things in life that can be described as green and others which at best, can only be described as a murky brown. A variety of foods come to mind that fall into both categories and in this instance, there are two food-related topics on which I would like to focus; Google (the company) and Pangasius (the fish).

You may be wondering what Google has to do with food? Well, one of the most often cited perks of working at Google is….the food. Google feeds its employees well. If you work at the Googleplex, you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge. There are several cafés located throughout the campus and employees can eat at any of them. Each café offers different kinds of cuisine ranging from vegetarian dishes to sushi to ethnic foods from aroundthe world. Google’s culture promotes the use of fresh, organic and healthy meals. That’s a great green approach and it gets my vote.

I wonder how many other companies are following their example by offering their staff organic food. Perhaps more than you think. I say if Google is doing it, there must be plenty of others following suit…life tends to work that way.

Whilst we’re unlikely to see anything on this scale in Cyprus, supplying our ready-meals to companies is one area that we, here at The Yum Company are looking at expanding into, making organic healthy meals a reality here too – you know who to call!

Now….that murky brown colour I was referring to earlier. Still on the subject of food, there’s one particular item that does not get my vote; Pangasius – yes, the fish – the one you see so much of here in Cyprus. It’s everywhere; supermarkets, restaurants, take- aways, you name it. Why? Because it’s cheap. Fish has become an expensive luxury item, especially if you wish to buy locally-caught wild fish. Wild prices I’d say! However, perhaps a price worth paying when you begin to look into the conditions of the Mekong River, Vietnam where pangasius is farmed, rumours of a multitude of toxins in the river, hormone injections to make the fish grow quickly and highly suspicious feed. I’m inclined to think no smoke without fire. I started to have my suspicions about this fish a while back because of the large quantities available and the low prices. By all means, draw your own conclusions. There’s a lot of information about it on the internet, one article even suggesting it’s all propaganda but there’s enough evidence to suggest as far as I’m concerned that pangasius is permanently off my menu.

So what is on my menu? As always, I try to eat as healthily as possible. Pangasius may be off limits but there are a few types of fish which I consider safer to eat and these include organic salmon which, incidentally, we use in our Creamy Salmon Pasta at The Yum Company. Carrefour now stocks wild frozen salmon which although doesn’t compare to the fresh, high quality organic steaks you get in the US, they are at least a step in the right direction if you’re looking to eat cleaner fish.

So, thumbs up to Google for being green. Talking of green, it’s time to break for tea….green tea of course. My current favourite is Althaus Green Oolong (leaves), an amazingly flavoursome green tea with milk undertones. Highly recommended!