Technology and innovation spring out of need and sometimes, there are heartwarming stories of how some people overcome hurdles to meet those needs. Here's one.
After a devastating earthquake the poor people of Gujarat in western India had their earthenware water storage pots broken and couldn't afford new ones. Mansukhlal, a school dropout, started working on an affordable option to a fridge to keep water cool in one compartment and store veges in another. He worked on it from 2001 to 2004 with his father urging him to give up on it and join him as a labourer. Mansukhlaal didn't give in and finally succeeded in making his refrigerator.
Perhaps you've heard of Mansukhlal's "Mitticool". For the benefit of those who don't know, Mitti simply means earth or soil. In this case it is clay soil from Gujarat. Mansukhlal sold his Mitticools for Rs 350 - 400. (USD 7 to 10) to the poor. Today it might be a bit more but will always be way cheaper than a fridge. And guess what, it doesn't need electricity. Milk stays fresh for a day and veges for a week.
|picture from http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Feat+of+clay/1/93164.html|
His wife couldn't afford a non stick frypan and in 2005 he set out to invent a hot plate made of clay (a tawa) which costs less than a dollar. Tata chemicals conducted a food grade test and pronounced it safe. Much safer than non-stick pans. Non stick pans are coated with PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals). Unfortunately, we use PFCs in many common everyday objects. To find out more and especially for the harmful effects of PFCs, read what Jennifer Hass, PhD, has to say here.
One of the effects is that children are born with poor immune systems making them vulnerable to diseases, and weak.
According to Jennifer, "Almost all disease is a combination of genetics and environmental exposure. We can't do much about our genes, but we can do something to make our environment safer for ourselves and our loved ones."
Mansukhlal's non-stick pan is a much better option. Not only is it non-stick, it can rival any teflon coated product for the minuscule quantity of oil needed to turn out a tasty dish.
I've heard Anil Gupta on Ted.com (India's hotbeds of invention) say it is safer than Teflon, that it is energy efficient and affordable. Incidentally, Anil Gupta talks of innovations of the poor from all over the world - not only India. His link:
Mansukhbhai's products are seen everywhere in markets and he's received orders from as far away as Africa and the US. To see pictures of his products, click on his link: http://www.mitticool.in/Mitticoolrefrigerator.htm.What true grit. What determination. What courage against all odds.
What you can do to reduce your exposure to PFCs at home: Use cast iron, stainless steel, or glass cookware or Mansukhlal's non-stick pan. Avoid pans with non-stick coatings.
For more recommendations on how to save yourself and very young kids from PFCs, please visit this site.