Envirofit Cookstoves According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “more than three billion people worldwide rely on polluting energy sources such as wood, dung and charcoal for cooking.” These practices are most common in impoverished areas within developing countries and come with severe health consequences. As women are usually tasked with the cooking responsibilities, the indoor air pollution caused by cooking with these traditional fuels disproportionately impacts women as well as children in the household. A social enterprise called Envirofit International aims to make clean cookstoves more accessible and affordable for families living in developing nations.

Polluting Fuels and Gender Inequality

Cooking with polluting energy sources not only leads to serious health repercussions but also contributes to economic gender inequality. Girls and women are the main gatherers of these polluting energy sources, which require more than twice as much time to gather in comparison to clean fuels. Girls from households that use polluting fuels spend roughly 18 hours per week collecting fuel in contrast to five hours a week for those from households that utilize clean energy sources. This time could go toward more productive activities such as learning and paid work. As a result, girls and women fall behind in education and economic advancement.

Health and Economic Repercussions of Indoor Air Pollution

According to the WHO, annually, almost four million people die prematurely as a result of household air pollution caused by “inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.” Indoor air pollution can cause ischaemic heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and pulmonary disease. Indoor pollution increases the risk of pneumonia in children by 50% and “is responsible for 45% of all pneumonia deaths in children” younger than 5. Gathering traditional fuels, a task typically performed by women and children can lead to musculoskeletal damage due to the arduous nature of this task.

Envirofit Cookstoves

Envirofit International works to replace dangerous and harmful traditional cooking methods with clean biomass cookstoves that are efficient, durable and inexpensive. The enterprise is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since its incorporation in 2003, Envirofit has manufactured and commercialized smart stoves that cook faster, use less fuel and produce less smoke and toxic emissions. Envirofit cookstoves reduce “fuel use, fuel cost and cooking time by up to 60%” and decrease smoke and harmful emissions by up to 80%. These fuel savings alone can increase household income by up to 15% a year.

Using a market-based approach, Envirofit has helped more than five million people in 45 nations around the world save money and time while also reducing their carbon footprint. Envirofits’s clean, pollution-free technology has saved lives by reducing preventable deaths due to pollution. Envirofit cookstoves feature efficient combustion chambers to decrease emissions and utilize biomass fuel, which is accessible for people in rural communities.

With regional headquarters and production sites in East Africa, West Africa, Asia and Latin America, Envirofit can deliver local solutions tailored to each region’s specific needs. Each regional headquarter also contributes to the local economy by providing new employment and business opportunities. Besides creating jobs and making cooking safer, more convenient and affordable, Envirofit promotes sales by conducting local awareness campaigns about the effects of air pollution on health.

Overall, Envirofit cookstoves contribute to the health and well-being of millions of impoverished people across the world, saving lives, time and money.

Carolina Cadena
Photo: Flickr

Legalize Cannabis
After recent moves to legalize cannabis around the world have begun to gain ground internationally, particularly in Uruguay and the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, the United Nations has announced its opposition to the legalization movement.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) of the U.N. has warned that legalizing cannabis poses “a very grave danger to public health” and that the movement has taken place based on “misguided incentives.”

In fact, a report released by the INCB has indicated that following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, there has been an increase in car crashes due to driving while under the influence of marijuana.

The INCB supports the more traditional stance against drugs. The president of the INCB, Raymond Yans, said, “Drug-traffickers will choose the path of least resistance, so it is essential that global efforts to tackle the drug problem are unified…when governments consider their future policies on this, the primary consideration should be the long-term health and welfare of the population.”

Uruguay became the first country to legalize marijuana after its legislature passed a bill in December 2013. The law allows the country to regulate all aspects of the drug, including the sale and the production. The law permits Uruguayans older than 18 years old to register for marijuana at their local pharmacies before being able to buy up to 1.4 ounces of the drug.

The president of Uruguay, José Mujica, has stated that with the new law he hopes to fight the drug trafficking cartels in the region and to reduce incentives for beginning harder drugs. This viewpoint has been criticized in the INCB report, which states that legalization would not reduce the blackmarkets for the marijuana and that widespread use of the drug after legalization would only cause increasing addiction and greater use of other, more illicit drugs.

In Colorado, the sale of marijuana for recreational use became legal in January, after 55% of Coloradans voted in approval of legalizing it. People over the age of 21 may buy up to one ounce of marijuana. The retail marijuana has a tax of 25% state tax plus 2.9% of the normal state sales tax. Out of the expected $67 million in revenue, roughly $27.5 million is to be used to build schools and help with other educational expenses.

– Jeff Meyer

Sources: The Guardian, BBC, The Guardian
Photo: Thunderbirdrising

The Posner Center for International Development, located in Denver, Colorado, is an organization that displays the convergence of over 30 companies working together to help create better living conditions for the world’s poor while also addressing environmental issues. These companies work together to come up with creative and innovative solutions that can help those in poverty while also staying environmentally friendly. While these individual companies already create positive impact, their collaboration can only significantly boost the results.

Bridges to Prosperity is one of the organizations that has joined the Posner Center for International Development. Bridges to Prosperity plans and builds bridges over rivers all over the world. While building a bridge over a river may seem like a small development, it can be life altering. In villages with little transportation, most of the world’s poor depend on walking to reach their destinations. Bridges give them a safe means of transport, whether it is to school, a hospital, to work, etc. So far, Bridges to Prosperity has had projects in South America, Asia, Africa, and Central America.

Another such organization is Nokero, short for “no kerosene.” Nokero’s attempt to eliminate kerosene lights that are harmful to the environment is ambitious but possible. They hope to replace these kerosene lamps with solar lights, which are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Engineers at Nokero have also developed a solar powered cell phone charger. Such valuable technology is affordably priced and cost effective.

Nokero and Bridges to Prosperity are just two of the 35 organizations working at the Posner Center for International Development. Whether it’s with seemingly simple solutions like building bridges to make transportation easier, or with life changing technologies that bring power to a neighborhood, these organizations’ attempts to change the world are indeed powerful and inspiring. Their collaborative efforts will only result in bigger and better ideas and innovations for the future.

– Aalekhya Malladi

Sources: The Denver Post, Posner Center for International Development, Bridges to Prosperity, Nokero
Photo: Hosted