The Kyoto Box Solar Oven – A $5 Solution to Climate Change


Peopled from developed countries find it almost impossible to believe that three billion people around the world still use firewood for cooking.  With the climate change problem reaching unprecedented proportions, deforestation has become one of the most vital issues to address in the fight against global warming.  Who would have thought that one of the most compelling solutions to deforestation would come in a cardboard box, with a price tag that no one would believed possible.

Kenya-based entrepreneur Jon Bohmer invented the Kyoto Box Solar Oven – a $5 solution to climate change. The Kyoto Box Solar Oven was the winner of the FT Climate Change Challenge, beating out 300 other entries to for an estimated $75,000 in prize money. The Kyoto Box Solar Oven is simple in design and relatively easy to construct. It is made of two cardboard boxes, with one placed inside another, with an acrylic cover.  The cover allows the heat of the sun to pass into the interior of the box. The interior is painted black and lined with silver foil on the outside, which serves to focus the sun’s rays onto the item placed within. Meanwhile, newspaper or straw is placed in between the two boxes for insulation.  Simply put, the Kyoto Box Solar Oven is an extremely low-tech, yet remarkably effective approach to addressing climate change.

How effective is the Kyoto Box Solar Oven?
The trapped heat within the box is hot enough to enable people to bake bread, cook casseroles, and boil water. Its ability to boil water is especially useful  because it can potentially save millions of children from diseases and death related to drinking contaminated water.

Aside from its practical benefits, the Kyoto Box Solar Oven will drastically reduce the need to cut down trees for firewood in developing countries. With 3 billion people who still rely on firewood for cooking, the solar oven presents an affordable and compelling way to reduce deforestation on a global scale.

Solar Cooking
Although Bohmer’s Kyoto Box Solar Oven received enormous media coverage as the winner of the prestigious FT Climate Change Challenge, it should be noted though that the concept behind solar cooking is not new at all. Sherry Cole and Barbara Kerr were previous champions of solar cooking back in the 1970s. Together with other environmentalists, they founded the Solar Cookers International in 1987. Even before the two American women came into the picture though, the concept of solar cooking was found in a book published in the 1960s by the Peace Corps.

While many scientists, environmentalists and entrepreneurs obsess over complex solutions to to the  extremely complicated problem of climate change, the Kyoto Box Solar Oven is remarkable its simplicity.  Bohmer invented the cooking box during a weekend and it worked on his first try. He said, It’s mind-boggling how simple it is.

This post was written by:

Lorna Li

Lorna Li is a social media and green marketing expert. She enjoys helping green businesses and nonprofits with bootstrap marketing, as well as helping job seekers leverage social media for personal branding.


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