"As a mom, I was shocked to learn that the leading cause of death of children in developing countries is respiratory illness," says The Adventure Project co-founder Jody Landers, in describing the problem of toxic indoor smoke.
Every day, 3 billion people in developing countries are exposed to toxic smoke when preparing meals. Cooking on traditional stoves and open fires causes almost 2 million deaths per year, mainly affecting women and young children. "The smoke is the equivalent of breathing in two packs of cigarettes per day. Imagine having your baby strapped to your back as you cook, breathing in all that smoke. It's horrendous," says Landers.
Charcoal is also a major cause of deforestation. In Haiti, 95 percent of the population relies on wood and/or charcoal for cooking, despite the fact that Haiti has lost 98 percent of its forest cover. The short supply results in high prices -- with the typical family in Haiti spending 40% of their income on charcoal.
But, there is a simple solution. And it just costs $20.
The Adventure Project has been supporting an innovative social enterprise in Haiti that sells coal-efficient stoves. Instead of distributing stoves as charity, local nonprofits have created a stove business, helping to provide women micro-entrepreneurs with jobs, and getting the products into the hands of families at an affordable price. The stoves also help the environment -- one stove saves six trees from being cut down and turned to charcoal every year (stoves use half as much charcoal as open fires).
To help get the stove program off the ground, The Adventure Project is subsidizing the costs of the locally made stoves. "Half a million people are still living in tents in Haiti, and 70 percent of the population is unemployed. So it is important that the stoves are sold at a price everyone can afford," says co-founder Becky Straw, "Every $20 gets a stove into the hands of a family in need."
What's more, TAP is tying every $20 to a unique serial number of a stove in Haiti, so donors can see the process in action, get updates as the stove is built, and where it finds its eventual home.
"Last year, we helped our local partner hire five women micro-entrepreneurs, and this year, we want to help them hire ten more," says Straw. "Our goal this holiday is to find 10,000 American families who can donate $20 to buy one stove."
The Adventure Project (TAP) is just one of many nonprofits challenging American consumers -- who are expected spend $704 on average this holiday season -- to create their own traditions this year. Straw hopes that this Cyber Monday, shoppers will consider stopping by The Adventure Project website to add a stove to their carts. "It's a easy solution, with enormous potential," Straw explains.
And let's just say that the gift of clean coal is the perfect addition to any gift list, for those naughty and nice.
To watch a video from Haiti and to make a donation, click here.