Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cleaner Cook Stoves

There is a nice article in today's New York Times about Envirofit's work on figuring out the cookstove opportunity. As with our earlier work, the challenge is to figure out how to build a business from reducing pollution. Pollution is waste, whether it comes from unburned fuel in a 2 stroke motorcycle, or from inefficient combustion of biofuels with traditional cooking methods. So, as with the motorcycles, we are trying to take the savings from using less wood, producing less smoke (and CO2), and improving health to make an affordable stove.

There have been a number of cleaner cookstove designs in the past, but few have acheived any scale or longer term impact. Envirofit, Shell Foundation, and our local partners are working to change that. We are trying to learn from the past, and bring new approaches to the problem.
Envirofit is working on a line of cookstoves, for a variety of cooking styles and needs, that will be affordable, durable and attractive, as well as cleaner burning. It is challenging work, and the numbers are mind boggling. Shell estimates that 500 million households cook with traditional fires or charcoal. To put this in perspective, Apple just sold it's 100 millionth iPod, and they seem to be getting more than one per household. So to make a dent in this problem, we have to start small, but think big.
If you are interested in more, please check out the Envirofit website and the upcoming ETHOS conference in Seattle.

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