Slow cooking emits life-changing results

Founder of Wonderbag, Sarah Collins, describes the Wonderbag as a heat-retention/insulation cooker with ancient heat-retention cooking attributes that have been redesigned to improve lives. “The Wonderbag is a simple solution, focused on developing countries and communities with high poverty, a shortage of fuel supplies, a high incidence of health problems associated with air pollution, and/or injuries resulting from fuel fires.” Collins says that usage of the Wonderbag results in: money saved on fuel; less CO2 emissions; and less pollution and toxic fumes, which decreases the incidence of respiratory and other diseases, particularly in children. As cooking is done on a heat-retention basis versus an active cooking process there are fewer house fires, less wood and paraffin fuel resources are being burned, and less electricity is being used. In 2002, Collins was inspired to develop a product that would significantly alleviate poverty in Africa on a large scale. She explains that growing up on the East Coast of South Africa, she knew the need was great, the opportunities were vast and the time was now. “Based in Durban, South Africa, the team has since expanded to include other like-minded driven people to construct and perfect a business model that can scale-up for replication across Africa, Asia, India, South America, Europe and the US. The benefits are hard to dispute from an environmental and humanitarian point of view.” KronesSDE

What is a Wonderbag?

The Wonderbag is being disseminated as one of South Africa’s first programmatic Clean Development Mechanism projects being registered by the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, and one of the first throughout the African continent. Collins reveals that over 150,000 Wonderbags have been distributed to South African homes already – saving 50,000t of carbon this year. “This is just the start. We’re on a mission to save 8 million tons of carbon emissions over the next five years in South Africa, making cooking cleaner, safer and more affordable continent by continent, one home at a time.” A Wonderbag study has shown average consumption of 4 litres a week and a saving of 1.6 litres a week which equates to approximately $83 per year (based on an inland price of paraffin in South Africa of R7.70 per litre. And a conversion rate of R7.70 to 1 US dollar). Collins remarks that the goal is to have a Wonderbag in every home around the world – and that the team won’t stop until they see that happens. The carbon tons that will be saved as more and more people cook with a Wonderbag is what keeps the team inspired. 50,000 carbon tons saved this year, 8 million carbon tons saved in five years, and 8,016 new jobs created over five years, is what the team aims to achieve in South Africa. User/household benefits

She explains that the cost and savings per household is significant. “These households typically use a combination of electricity and paraffin – electricity primarily for lighting and paraffin for cooking. According to research conducted by Unilever, one of our investor partners, each household cooks a stew approximately 6 to 7 times per week. It is assumed that starch is cooked a similar amount of times. The benefits to the users include a savings on time – less time cooking and in some cases, less time looking for wood; savings on money; improved health conditions; and general improvement on safety by reducing fire and flames.” She adds that cooking with a Wonderbag also allows more flexibility and time for childcare.

Environmental benefits

We have 14 Carbon Project Areas in South Africa. On the basis of 1 million bags we will mitigate approximately 525,000 tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) being released into the atmosphere per annum. This means: less smog and fire/fuel fumes as less wood and paraffin fuel resources are being burned; and less electricity is being used. In addition, because cooking is done on a heat-retention basis versus an active cooking process, there is potential for fewer fires.

Wonderbag SA: Tel +27 31 536 8004; fax +27 31 536 8013;