Today is an exclusive live video interview with Mattias Ohlson, for the interview series “Interviews with the Leading Edge.”
In this series of interviews, I engage with people who are on the leading edge of transformational change, doing work to further the consciousness revolution and how it is manifesting in culture, politics and spirituality, in order to help bring along a more enlightened society.
Mattias, a native of Sweden, is the CEO of the company Emerging Cooking Solutions, based in Zambia, Africa.
Emerging Cooking Solutions is based on a simple premise that has the potential to have profound results. What Mattias’ company is doing is encouraging the locals of Zambia to change their cooking habits from using charcoal and firewood as the cooking fuel to using pellets made from biomass.
Why is this so profound? For a number of reasons:
1) Many African countries have seen over 95% of their forests destroyed. You would think this is due to excessive logging or development, but this is not the case. The main reason deforestation is occurring all over Africa is because forests are the main source of cooking fuel for the locals – either as wood or charcoal.
2) Smoke from cooking fire is hazardous to the health, and more people die from smoke inhalation than from malaria.
3) All the burning of wood and charcoal release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. 18% of greenhouse gases are from the use of firewood and charcoal in cooking.
Mattias and his associates looked at this, saw the problem, and came up with a simple solution: there is an almost unlimited amount of biomass available in these areas, in the form of grass, straw, sawdust, nutshells, corn stalks and many other agricultural waste products, and so they determined that if pellets were made of this material, these pellets could become the cooking fuel, and by so doing, eliminate the need to use wood and charcoal.
Not only would these pellets help the environment by stopping the deforestation of much of Africa and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, and help people’s health by stopping their inhalation of wood and charcoal smoke, it would actually save the locals money, because pellets are cheaper to buy than charcoal. It is estimated that the average local could save $100 – $150 a year, which is a major savings for many Africans.
Emerging Cooking Solutions is operating in Zambia, and there they have a facility manufacturing the pellets. They are working with local governments, businesses and church groups to spread the word and get more and more people to make the switch.
The United Nations has eight millennium goals to improve life conditions for the poor, and the Emerging Cooking Solutions model contributes to all eight. Furthermore, The World Wildlife Foundation states that the model of Emerging Cooking Solutions could benefit 180 million people over the next 10 years. And the website Mashable featured 10 Innovations that Improved the World in 2013, and Emerging Cooking Solutions was number five on that list.
Clearly Mattias Ohlson and his company, Emerging Cooking Solutions, is onto something that can make a profound difference in the lives of so many, and in the health of the planet. And the remarkable thing about it is is how simple their solution is. Today they are focusing their work in Zambia, but their plan is to spread their model throughout Africa and other developing nations.
I recently met with Mattias in New York City, where he came for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends, and also to give a couple of talks about his work in Zambia. We had an engaging conversation not only about his work but also about his life journey to get to where he is now, and his search for meaning within an evolutionary and integral framework.
To learn more about Mattias’ work, you can go to Emerging Cooking Solutions.
Also, if you are interested in helping sponsor the purchase of the cookstoves, which at $100 is a bit of a stretch for the average Zambian budget, you can go to Give Cooking.