Wonderbag: Cooking for cleaner air

Innovation firm Frog teamed up with SA company Wonderbag to create a mobile app that can track energy and CO2 savings gained from using their heat-retention bag

The Wonderbag is a heat-retention cooking bag in which anything can be cooked - from meaty stews and vegetable curries to soup, rice and other staples. As it is made from insulated materials, it allows food that has already been brought to the boil to carry on cooking without further energy use. Families can start their cooking on a stove as normal and then transfer their pot of food to the cooking bag. It also means less time spent tending to cooking, as once the meal is in the bag, it can simply be left to stand until it is ready.

150 000 of these Wonderbags are already in use across South Africa - a number that is estimated to escalate fifty-fold over the next five years, as Unilver has recently ordered five million units.

These are some of the benefits of Wonderbag:

  • It reduces a family's fuel usage by 30%, saving money and easing poverty
  • It reduces CO2 emissions
  • It reduces toxic fumes, which means less respiratory problems and other diseases, particularly in children
  • It reduces accidents in the kitchen, because stoves are used less
  • It reduces time spent cooking, giving more time for child-care and other activities
  • It saves precious water
  • When the pot is insulated in a Wonderbag at a fairly constant temperature, less evaporation occurs, so less water is needed
  • It saves food
  • 20% of all staple food in Africa is burned, due to pots being placed on open fires and unregulated stove tops, whereas with the Wonderbag no burning happens

A recent development for Wonderbag happened in 2011 when Frog collaborated with Microsoft to create an app that monitors and promotes the use of the bag. The application tracks actual savings in CO2 emissions relative to the usage of individual bags, and allows users to be sent usage statistics and recipes to their mobile phones.

By cleverly combining cloud computing with mobile technology to automate the carbon accounting, the Wonderbag initiative adheres to the ambitious carbon offset targets set by the United Nations, affording Wonderbag the ability to trade on the European Carbon Exchange, and thus breathing life into the programme’s power to spread more broadly.

Find out more about this innovative cooking device at nb-wonderbag.com.