Philanthropy Friday: Wonderbag, the Slow Cooker with a Social Conscience

wonderbagunpackedDisclosure: I received a Wonderbag to aid in the writing of this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed, as per usual, are my own.

The Wonderbag is a portable, non-electric slow cooker with a social conscience. Created by Sarah Collins, a South African adventurer, entrepreneur and social activist, the Wonderbag eliminates the need for tedious wood fire cooking and /or electricity.

The idea for the Wonderbag came to Sarah while in the middle of a rolling power outage in South Africa, resulting from the country’s precarious electricity reserves. Wanting to still cook without electricity, Sarah remembered her grandmother taking pots off the stove and wrapping them in blankets and furniture cushions in order to keep perfectly cooked casseroles piping hot. This heat retention method also enhances rural women’s quality of life by reducing the time spent cooking and keeping them from inhaling so much hazardous smoke from their cooking fires.

The Wonderbag itself is made from a simple colorful fabric filled with repurposed foam chips, a waste product of furniture and mattress manufacturing in South Africa, and fits 2 – 9 quart pots. You sit your pot on a trivet in the bag and the top seals with a drawstring. It continues to cook food which has been brought to boil by conventional methods for up to 8 hours without the use of additional electricity or fuel.

wonderbagkitchen

I made a Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup in my Wonderbag, and it was delicious. I prepped the soup, boiled it for a few minutes and let it sit in the Wonderbag for a couple of hours before serving. It was piping hot when my boys and I ate it, and I didn’t have to deal with washing my big crock pot afterwards. It would be great to bring to hot foods to parties or even for camping.

The best part is that for every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. Here is more on the social impact:

  • Smoke inhalation from wood fire cooking is the leading cause of death globally. More than 50% of premature deaths in children under five are related to household air pollution

  • Each Wonderbag saves 1.7 trees, 1,000 liters of water, and 1,248 hours of time not spent collection firewood

  • 82% of female rapes in Africa occur while collecting firewood for cooking

  • One job is created for every 1,000 bags sold. Over 700,000 bags have been sold to date

Watch this video for more on the social impact that Wonderbag is making.

You can buy the Wonderbag on their website or on Amazon.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Why I’m Not Sending Out Christmas Cards This Year

I’m not sending out Christmas cards this year. It just seems contrived at this point.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I finalized a divorce this year. I’m doing great. More than great, really.

The holidays aren’t stressing me out.

It just seems like every year I race to find the perfect family photo to send out to a long list of people I barely talk to anymore.

I stopped posing my photos years ago. Because posing kids and dogs together is mild torture.

I’ve pared my mailing list down the last couple of years. Because when do I even talk to most of these people? And how many even send me cards?

And then there’s that guilty feeling I get when I throw out all those pretty cards I do receive with cute photos of children and families straight into the trash in January.

Those photo cards aren’t cheap, though my blog provided my cards last year.

If I’ve learned anything this year it’s to appreciate the love I have all around me every day. While I try to give in some way every day, I’ve also become more deliberate about telling people what they mean to me. I have so much good in my life that I want to celebrate it every day.

Being mindful and stopping to smell the roses always sounds good in theory, but how often do we actually do it? Looking back at the photos from our summer (while making a calendar for 2015, a tradition I am continuing), my boys and I determined that it was pretty epic. We had some fun adventures, many of which were not planned ahead of time. Many involved later bedtimes than normal. Many were documented with selfies from my iPhone.

I think about the adventures I’ve had with friends new and old this year. The conversations I’ve had. Deep conversations. The tears and laughter. The times I’ve felt my heart was so full it would burst. Or when I felt emotion so deep I couldn’t help but cry. These are the things you can’t express with a photocard ordered online.

I’d rather spend time with and talk to those that are important in my life. I’d rather concentrate on meaningful interactions with people I care about rather than send a blanket message because it’s expected.

I donated the money I would have used to purchase the cards instead. As I’ve done in previous years, I’m concentrating on gifts for the kiddos in my life who call me Mom or Auntie. This makes the holiday season of “giving” much easier and more meaningful for me.

I write about simple ways to give back every day. If we truly appreciate the love we have around us every day, the holiday season wouldn’t seem so stressful and crazy.

Of course, I’m not going to judge you if you are sending out Christmas cards. This is simply a decision I made that felt right for me. I know people who get a lot of joy from sending out cards. And I do very much appreciate those that have taken the time to ask me for my new address so that they can send me a card.

Instead I’ll give you my own version of a holiday card right here. It’s a selfie from our epic summer. With a few festive embellishments.

happyholidays2014

 Are you sending holiday cards this year?

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