Upcoming sustainable startups solve the issue of dangerous pollutants and the deforestation within the scope of food preparation – become a Global Pioneer as well!

Cooking stoves: A hazard for health and environment

As we continue to share stories of sustainability and sustainable entrepreneurship on our blog, we stumbled upon a severe issue. Usually we just want to highlight innovative solutions, but now we are addressing a serious problem that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Today we want to address the cooking situation in many of the developing countries based on a great podcast by Thomas Kruchem from SWR2. He visited Kenya and India for his reportage “Sick through root and fume”.

3 billion people around the world, mostly in developing countries, are using firewood, charcoal, cropwaste, dung and plastic waste to cook their meals. While firing up their stoves with these materials, most people don’t know they are exposing themselves to dangerous pollutants. The fine dust that develops while firing the stoves comes with nitric oxides, sulfur and even sometimes quicksilver attached to it. Furthermore, the pollution-data in homes with conventional cooking stoves exceed the limit values for pollution set by the WHO many times over.

This has severe health effects on those that are getting in contact with the fume. Those consequences include a higher risk of strokes, cataract and cancer. Furthermore, there is also high risk of lung damage. The fine dust settles in the lungs forcing the lunghistoid to necrotize, thus leading to chronical respiratory diseases.

Another sad fact about domestic caused fumes is that they are causing nearly 3.8 million deaths per year according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But these are just the effects that cooking with wood and charcoal have on the human being.

The burning of wood in private households all around the world is one of the biggest sources of fume emission globally, thus fostering climate change. Cooking with wood and charcoal is also responsible for massive deforestation. Women on average spend approximately 374 hours every year searching for firewood in India. This clearing of woodland and the following desertification are also harming the environment.

Sustainable entrepreneurs provide help and solutions in the preparation of food

But there are a few sustainable entrepreneurs and initiatives that want to bring change to the current cooking situation. One example for these sustainable entrepreneurs is the “Clean Cooking Alliance”, powered by the UN. Not only are they working on research on this topic, but they are also offering a broad overview over improved stoves and new fueling methods. Also local NGO’s like “Laya” in India are offering help and solutions.

While it is obvious that not every wood-fueled cooking stove can be replaced with an electric (or even solar-powered) one, there are still some solutions that sustainable entrepreneurs are working on. One of those solutions is to improve the cooking stove situation in the households itself. Therefore the local NGO “Laya” is implementing new stoves with chimneys and better air supply for the cooking site. On the one side this will keep the fumes out of the living space and on the other side help reduce the amount of firewood needed for fuelling the stove. Furthermore, the time needed for cooking is also drastically reduced. One of those stoves with a chimney can be seen in the picture below.

A further solution is the replacement of wood as a cooking stove fuel. Especially in India the new method of cooking is used through liquid gas. The gas burns relatively “clean” and emits less carbondioxid.

Be a sustainable entrepreneur!

The quintessence of this blog is the belief that there lies so much potential for innovative ideas in precarious situations like these. We want to encourage everybody reading this blog to not hesitate and pursue their idea. Be a sustainable entrepreneur! Global Pioneers wants to help you realize your idea. Global Pioneers is a global entrepreneurship program for young and innovative entrepreneurs that want to solve the pressing problems revolving around waste, recycling, energy and logistics. More information can be found on this website.

Also make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you don’t miss out on the latest news!


Picture 1: SWR2 – Thomas Kruchem
Picture 2: GHO Data – Mortality from household pollution
Picture 3: Laya NGO – Photo Gallery

Sources: Thomas Kruchem, SWR2
GHO World Pollution Data