Location: Umhlanga, South Africa
Women in developing countries spend a lot of their time working at home. Much of this work involves preparing daily meals—traditional foods that can take hours to make. The cost of this labor isn’t only time, but also fuel for cooking. Without access to clean fuel, people turn to wood and charcoal, causing deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, burning wood or charcoal indoors can cause respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. Since women and children often spend hours in smoky kitchens, they are more likely to develop serious health problems.
Wonderbag is a new innovation that addresses all three of these problems: time, fuel use, and health. It is a highly insulated bag that allows food to continue cooking even when it is removed from the fire. First, food is brought to a boil, then the lid is replaced, and finally, the pot is placed in the Wonderbag to finish cooking. The Wonderbag cooking method uses up to 60% less fuel, saving families money and reducing the amount of trees that are cut down. In addition, it frees up more of women’s time to do other things, as food needs no further supervision once it has been removed from the fire. This also means there is less indoor pollution, and less overall emissions, so that women and children are exposed to less health-damaging smoke.
Wonderbag estimates that when a family in a developing country uses their Wonderbag regularly, it can reduce CO2 emissions by one tonne per year. They have a buy one give one policy, so that when someone in the UK or the U.S. buys a Wonderbag, one is also given to a family in Africa. Wonderbag also works in these communities to ensure people understand the benefits of their new Wonderbags and put them to use. Their goal for the future is to distribute 100 million Wonderbags, which will save 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
In addition to the environmental and time-saving benefits, Wonderbag also contributes to economic development in South Africa. As of 2011, Wonderbag has already provided 645 jobs, and they plan to provide over 8,000 by the end of 2016. These jobs aren’t only to produce the bags, but also to distribute them, train people to use them, and ensure their effective use. This is the kind of economic opportunity that empowers people to improve their lives, conserve natural resources, and help save the planet.
Environmental Impact: Avoided deforestation, efficient fuel use, avoided use of fossil fuels, including reduced emission of GHGs and harmful substances
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