General ramblings

Wonderbags!

March 13, 2014

Wonderbags!
I mentioned these in yesterday’s blog post about energy saving gadgets for the kitchen, and the more I read on the website, the more I thought they warranted a whole blog post of their very own!
They. Look. AMAZEBALLS!!!!

For the un-initiated among you, who are thinking “What the heck is a Wonderbag?”

Image from the Daily Mail, who did a great review of the Wonderbag here

Image from the Daily Mail, who did a great review of the Wonderbag here

“The Wonderbag is a non-electric, heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source”
So it’s like a no-energy slow-cooker.

Wonderbags are the brainchild of South African Sarah Collins. The concept has been around for centuries-our ancestors would have buried hot food in pots in the ground to keep it warm; and during the Second World War, people made hayboxes to conserve their precious fuel rations.
The idea is brilliantly simple
FileHandler.ashxTa da! Like I said, Simples!

BUT, such a simple idea, has profound implications on the planet and people around the world, which is where the real Wonder of the Wonderbag is.

Energy Saving-As this whole series of blog posts is all about saving energy for the Great Energy Race (and to save the planet…), then we will start with this:

  • for us lucky Westerners, with electricity and energy supplies, that more often that not, we take for granted, regular use of a Wonderbag can help reduce carbon emissions by half a tonne a year-that is the equivalent to taking your small car off the road for 4 months!
Image from Wonderbag

Image from Wonderbag

  • for those in the developing world, simply using a Wonderbag can reduce fuel costs by 30%. Wowzers.
    And when you think that most of the time, the fuel used for cooking is wood, on an open fire, this means that the families have to a) spend less time collecting fuel, leaving more time to do things that again, we take for granted, like going to school or generating much needed income; b) have less open fires, and the inherent risks of injury and illness associated with not only the fire itself, but also the constant exposure to smoke; c) less deforestation from cutting down wood for fuel
    So a huge win-win.

Deforestation-as I mentioned above, families in the developing world, meet most of their energy needs from open fires. As many have little or no income, they cannot afford charcoal for the fires, so they cut down trees for firewood. The resulting deforestation, means that they then have to forage over wider areas to find fuel for the fires. This foraging for firewood is often done by the women and the girls, and they will often have to make trips of 5-10km a day, taking up to 7 hours. This is time that could be spent in school, or generating an income. And the further they travel, the more vulnerable they are to attacks and violence.

Cooking Time-women in the developing world can spend as much as 4-6 hours of their day cooking. Some of these women are in fact, just girls, and they therefore miss out on an education. Education is the key to reducing poverty. So by reducing the time that they have to spend next to an open fire stirring a pot, there is more time for schooling, and the implication of that, is less poverty.

This kind of blows my mind, that whilst doing a spot of Googling to help me save a bit of energy, and win a Race, I have stumbled across something that really does have the potential to be world-changing.
And if you weren’t quite convinced yet, for every Wonderbag bought, one is donated to a family in need in Africa.
In the words of those infamous Dragons, “I’m in”.

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  • Reply KnitNell March 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Fascinating – I have ‘shared’ this Post onto my Facebook page

    • Reply Jen March 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Kitchen-Counter-Culture March 22, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Hello– I like your approach. Here’s my blog about the Wonderbag and the Clean Development Mechanism http://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/the-wonderbag/

    • Reply Jen March 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Hi there
      Glad you are enjoying the blog! Thanks for the link

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  • Reply Katy March 14, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Fascinating! And what a great invention… When we go on Forest School Camps, we use what’s called a ‘Hay Box’ where we have enormous pots of porridge which are heated on the fire the night before and put in a wooden box filled with hay over night to cook, so when you wake you have perfect, hot porridge. Same principle.

    • Reply Jen March 15, 2014 at 9:23 am

      It is indeed a modern take on the good old haybox! Forest School Camp sounds awesome 🙂

  • Reply Slow Cooking #1 | My Make Do and Mend Year March 14, 2014 at 7:04 am

    […] I have resolved to use my slow cooker more (I wimped out of making my own Wonderbox, and ordered a Wonderbag, and am waiting for it to arrive-in the meantime, slow cooker it is). Hubby bought a chicken at the […]

  • Reply craftyactivist March 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Jen I can’t wait for you to do a blog post reviewing how it actually works in practice and whether you rate it. I’d certainly buy one if you think it’s good 🙂

    • Reply Jen March 13, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Oh my goodness, now the pressure is on! Ours is ordered and hopefully on its way. Stay tuned…!

  • Reply Lorna March 13, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Do you have a large wide neck vacuum flask? I use one to cook things like pulses that normally you would simmer for a couple of hours. Just soak the pulses overnight, boil in fresh water for 10 mins then pour into the flask and pop the lid on. I boil them up while I’m eating breakfast and the beans are ready to use when I get home in the evening. Its like a mini haybox and also works well for small quantities of soup.

    • Reply Jen March 13, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Soup-er (sorry!) idea 🙂 Thankyou!

  • Reply Kate Harrison March 13, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Looked in Hobbycraft last week. A bag of polystyrene beads was about £10 a small bag but you can order them online from about £15 for a BIG bag. I.m going to fill cotton cases and put into a box. Not as pretty as the wonderbag though!

    • Reply Jen March 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Kate
      There is a link on yesterday’s blog post to do just that and make what they call a wonder box! http://wp.me/p2DUcw-1l4
      I felt a little conflicted and like I should have a go at making my own, given the whole Buy Nothing New thing, but I think that the project as a whole is so great, and they donate a wonder bag to a family in Africa, and they are really making a huge difference to the lives of the women and families in Africa, that I really felt I needed to support it.
      Would love to know if you make the bag and how it goes!

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