Eight years ago I woke with a start at 2 in the morning with an idea--a big idea, one of those ideas that is so powerful your waking mind can't even comprehend it, which is why it comes to you in a dream.
This spark of inspiration became the Wonderbag: a non-electric slow cooker that is revolutionizing the way people cook and eat around the world. It utilizes age old heat-retention technology to keep food cooking for up to 12 hours after it's been brought to a boil, reducing the amount of time, firewood and water required to prepare meals.
Did you know that nearly half of the people on this planet--3 billion of them--eat their meals cooked off an open flame? Or that 4 million people will die this year from indoor air pollution, half of them children under the age of five? That's more deaths than AIDS and malaria combined.
One year ago the UN passed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a wish list for the world that spans everything from ending poverty to equality for women to creating jobs. The SDGs couldn't be more perfectly aligned with everything I'm trying to accomplish by getting the Wonderbag in the hands of families and communities that need them around the world.
For every 100 Wonderbags in use there will be 170 trees saved (from being cut for firewood), 2,600 gallons of water saved, and 100 tons of carbon emissions saved every year. Additionally, Wonderbags enable women to do more than just cook all day--they'll be given six hours of their days back to tend to crops, pursue education and start businesses. The bottom line: using a Wonderbag moves women from making 20 cents a day to $2 a day, and that's the kind of success the SDGs are built around.
In order to keep driving this incredible change, I've decided to also work on Goal 17: creating partnerships. I've founded the Coalition of Action to unite businesses, global leaders, philanthropists and communities around the world to work together in order to achieve the SDGs by 2030. I've rallied partners such as the Jane Goodall Institute, Pfizer, Unilever, The Huffington Post and Dell, and together we're actively working toward ending abject poverty.
There are so many of the SDGs that the Wonderbag is moving the needle on:
• Goal 1: Ending poverty - Our overall aspiration, which is achieved by enabling entrepreneurship, providing healthier living conditions.
• Goal 3: Good health and well-being - As mentioned, 4 million people die each year from indoor air pollution from cooking on open fires. The Wonderbag prevents copious amounts of smoke and soot from ever being created by drastically reducing the amount of time food needs to be on a flame.
• Goal 4: Quality education - The Wonderbag also puts girls back in school and away from collecting wood and cooking over fires all day.
• Goal 5: Gender equality - With the time women get back from using the Wonderbag they are able to get out the front door and participate in the economy as the entrepreneurial powerhouses and leaders they are, more rapidly closing the gender disparity gap.
• Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth - Giving women the time to pursue their passions, start businesses and grow their capabilities has a significant impact on the women at work, as well as the communities they're a part of. When women earn an income they invest 90 percent of it back in their community.
• Goal 13: Climate action - Using the Wonderbag greatly diminishes the amount of wood needed to keep fires running, therefore prevention deforestation and saving countless trees and natural habitats.
• Goal 17: Partnerships for the goal - The Coalition of Action is a direct result of the desire to foster partnerships in order to address many of the SDGs. Only together can we create change that will better the world.
There is an African saying, "To walk fast, walk alone. To walk far, walk together." I believe that if we all walk together in this mission we will be able to walk much further than if we each go at it alone.
I implore you to join us on this path toward solving the SDGs. You can get involved with the Coalition of Action as a business partner, or by simply signing our petition at Change.org asking for major retailers to start carrying the Wonderbag.
You can also buy a Wonderbag on Amazon, and when you do we will place a bag with a family who needs it in a developing community in Africa.
You may think that a cooking bag might not be able to change the world, but with more than one million Wonderbags in use in the world, I can tell you without a shadow of doubt that this ancient technology is a real tool for moving into the future.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post to mark the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, or, officially, "Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"). The SDGs represent an historic agreement -- a wide-ranging roadmap to sustainability covering 17 goals and 169 targets -- but stakeholders must also be held accountable for their commitments. To see all the posts in the series, visit here.
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