cooking is the simplest, safest, most convenient way to cook food
without consuming fuels or heating up the kitchen. Many people choose
to solar cook forthese reasons. But for hundreds of millions of people
around the world who cook over fires fueled by wood
or dung, and who walk for miles to collect wood or spend much of their
meager incomes on fuel, solar cooking is more than a choice — it is a
millions of people who lack access to safe drinking water
and become sick or die each year from preventable waterborne illnesses,
solar is a life-saving skill. The World Health Organization
reports that in
23 countries 10% of deaths are due to just two environmental risk
factors: unsafe water, including poor sanitation and hygiene; and
indoor air pollution due to solid fuel use for cooking. There are numerous reasons to
cook the natural way — with the sun.
- Moderate cooking temperatures in simple
solar cookers help preserve nutrients.
- Those who otherwise could not afford the
fuel to do so can
cook nutritious foods — such as legumes and many whole grains — that
require hours of cooking.
- At times many families must trade scarce
food for cooking
fuels. Solar cooking can help them to keep more food and improve their
- Smoky cooking fires irritate lungs and
eyes and can cause diseases. Solar cookers are smoke-free.
- Smoke from cooking fires is a major cause
of global warming and dimming.
- Cooking fires are dangerous, especially
for children, and can
readily get out of control — causing damage to buildings, gardens, etc.
Solar cookers are fire-free.
- Millions of people routinely walk for
miles to collect fuelwood
for cooking. Burdensome fuel-gathering trips can cause injuries, and
expose people to danger from animals and criminals. Solar cooking
reduces these risks and burdens, and frees time for other activities.
- With good sunlight, solar cookers can be
used to cook food or pasteurize water during emergencies when other
fuels and power sources may not be available.
Inventor turns cardboard boxes into
Jon Bohmer sat down with his two little girls for a simple project
they could work on together, he didn't realize they'd hit upon a
solution to one of the world's biggest problems for just $5: A
ingeniously simple design uses two cardboard boxes, one inside the
other, and an acrylic cover that lets in the sun's rays and traps them.
paint on the inner box, and silver foil on the outer one, help
concentrate the heat. The trapped rays make the inside hot enough to
cook casseroles, bake bread and boil water.
the box also
does is eliminate the need in developing countries for rural residents
to cut down trees for firewood. About 3 billion people around the world
do so, adding to deforestation and, in turn, global warming.
allowing users to boil water, the simple device could also potentially
save the millions of children who die from drinking unclean water.
invention on Thursday won the FT Climate Change Challenge,
which sought to find and publicize the most innovative and practical
solution to climate change.
of scientists are working on
ways to send people to Mars. I was looking for something a little more
grassroots, a little simpler," Bohmer said Thursday.
contest win notwithstanding, solar cooking with a cardboard
oven isn't new. Two American women, Barbara Kerr and Sherry Cole, were
the solar box cooker's first serious promoters in the 1970s. They and
others joined forces to create the non-profit Solar Cookers
International -- originally called Solar Box Cookers International --
Further, the organization's executive director, Patrick
Widner, said that the plans for a solar box cooker were found in a book
published by the Peace Corps in the 1960s.
Mr. Bohmer has taken up the cause and interest of the 95 member
organizations and 160 individuals of the Solar Cookers Worldwide
Network," Widner said. "It would be a pleasure to work with Mr. Bohmer
in Kenya where we have been promoting the use of solar cookers for ten
a Norwegian-born entrepreneur based in Kenya,
said he also had been looking at solutions "way too complex, for way
took me about a weekend, and it worked on the first try," Bohmer said.
"It's mind-boggling how simple it is."
contest was organized by the Forum for the Future -- a sustainable
development charity -- and the Financial Times newspaper. Among the
judges were British business magnate Richard Branson and
environmentalist Rajendra Pachauri. The public also voted on the
Bohmer's invention beat about 300 other entries,
including a machine that turns wood and other organic material into
charcoal, wheel covers that make trucks more fuel efficient by reducing
drag, and a feed supplement for livestock that reduces the methane they
emit by 15 percent.
named his invention the Kyoto Box, after the international
environmental treaty to reduce global warming.
can be produced in existing cardboard factories. It has gone
into production in a factory in Nairobi, Kenya, that can churn out
about 2.5 million boxes a month.
has also designed a more durable version, made from recycled plastic,
which can be produced just as cheaply.
envisions such cardboard ovens being distributed throughout rural
West, we cook with electricity, so it's easy to ignore this
problem," he said. "But half the world's population is still living in
a stone age. The only way for them to cook is to make a fire.
"I don't want to see another 80-year-old
woman carrying 20 kilos of firewood on her back. Maybe we don't have
Solar Cookers International (SCI)
solar cooking awareness and
skills worldwide, particularly in areas with plentiful sunshine and
diminishing sources of cooking fuel. Since its founding in 1987, SCI
has enabled 30,000 families in Africa to cook with the sun's energy,
freeing women and children from the burdens of gathering firewood and
carrying it for miles. Tens of thousands of individuals and
organizations — from all over the world — have learned about solar
cooking through SCI’s excellent publications and education
and have benefited from SCI’s information exchange networks, research,
technical support, and the SCI-sponsored, internationally recognized
Internet resource for solar cooking information: the Solar