Cooking packs a wallop in terms of health and environmental impact in the developing world: I’ve seen the numbers time and time again as I come across new appropriate technology for addressing that impact. Various social enterprises have played with clean, efficient cookstove models to address respiratory disease and deforestation that results from cooking with wood. I’ve been fascinated by these approaches: from rockets stoves to cogeneration concepts, there’s been a lot to admire on this front… and not just because these ideas are environmentally sustainable, but also address the economic impact of cooking in the developing world.
Of course, a stove that required no fuel would be perfect: no carbon emissions, no time devoted to gathering wood or working to earn the money to buy other fuels, no fine particulates that make people sick. The Wonderbag, a creation of South African social entrepreneur Sarah Collins, doesn’t eliminate fuel, but it does cut its use: once a pot of food reaches the boiling point, it can be placed in the insulated bag to keep cooking without burning any more wood or gas. When paired with a clean cookstove, I’d guess the resource savings would be tremendous.
How does this work? Essentially, thermal mass: the Wonderbag uses polysterene balls as insulation in the bags themselves, which hold the heat from the cooking pot. It can do so for several hours, turning a standard Dutch oven into a slow cooker… all while cutting emissions. Collins estimates that the Wonderbag “has already saved enough CO2 emissions to travel the globe 9,452 times…”
Want to see how it all works? Check out the video on bringing the Wonderbag to Rwanda on the company’s website. No doubt a simple invention like this would be great for American outdoorsy types (who can afford a $65 bag); for women and children in the developing world, it’s another lifesaver.
via yesterday’s Green tech finds post at SUNfiltered
Image credit: screen capture from “Wonderbag in Rwanda” video