Here's something to think about the next time you boil water for mac 'n' cheese: Around the world, hundreds of millions of women are hauling firewood for miles just to cook food over open fires and breathe in thick smoke, putting their lives — and the lives of their families — in danger.
The charms of camping are one thing; not having access to safe cookstoves is quite another. To raise awareness on behalf of the 3 billion people worldwide who rely on in-home damaged stoves or solid-fuel fires (burning wood, animal dung, coal and crop waste), the Paradigm Project just hit the road. On foot. Southern Californians kicked off the 11-day Woodwalk trek from San Diego to Los Angeles yesterday, each hauling 40-60 pounds of firewood on their backs. The walk and event will be the fifth installment of the web series, Stoveman. When they get to LA, they'll recreate a typical indoor fire cooking experience, breathe the hot-boxed air and close the whole shebang out with a free benefit concert for the Stove Project. Free! Just don't forget to RSVP.
With everything going on in the world, do we really need to worry about stoves? Believe it or not, we do. Bigtime. The World Health Organization points out that around 2 million people die every year from conditions caused by indoor smoke inhalation. "In poorly ventilated dwellings, indoor smoke can be 100 times higher than acceptable levels for small particles," the report notes. "Exposure is particularly high among women and young children, who spend the most time near the domestic hearth."
Then there's the contribution that deforestation is making to climate change and the fact that kids who should be in school spend far too much time stocking fuel. The whole issue might have laid low up until now, but with health, sustainability, the environment and global economy at stake, expect the world to start paying attention.
Look Into the Woodwalk
Follow along as SoCal supporters walk on behalf of the Paradigm Project. Find out how you, too, can be a part of the change.
Fund a Stove
If you're able to, a donation can help to transform someone's home from a danger zone to a safe and environmentally sound place to cook.