Cooking up green solutions
Introducing energy-free cooking to help reduce people’s carbon footprint and cut their fuel bills.
Name of project: The Great Hebridean Wonderbag™ Project
The Western Isles – a group of islands off the west coast of Scotland – faces one of the worst fuel poverty problems in the UK. The combined challenges of an ageing population, low incomes, extreme weather and poor insulation – exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis – mean that many islanders are struggling to pay their fuel bills.
It is predicted that shortly over half the population in the Western Isles (also known as the Outer Hebrides), will be living below the poverty line – with serious impacts on mental and physical wellbeing.
Western Isles Libraries and community group Na h-Eileanan Siar wanted to address this problem by working with islanders to explore potential solutions. They introduced an energy-free method of cooking that has been used in many countries around the world for decades – known as the WonderBag™, which is an energy-free slow cooker that uses two insulated bags to cook food over a number of hours.
To launch the project, the challenge team gifted a WonderBag™, a cooking pot, a thermometer and a sample recipe book to a small group of 10 residents, all of different ages and different locations, as well as a local celebrity chef the Hebridean Baker. Each participant was asked to keep a video diary of their experiences as they tried out different recipes over a month.
The plan is to use the videos to create a short film promoting the project and this will then be shared via social media, organisations and the press. This will be accompanied by a series of cooking demonstrations, to show how fun and easy using the bag is.
The team will look to secure more funding to expand the initiative and make sure it becomes known throughout the islands – and beyond – as an innovative solution to combat rising food and energy costs while reducing the impacts of climate change.
They have also talked to local shop owners who have suggested creating bags of ingredients for different Wonderbag™ recipes, which would work out much cheaper for local families. The hope is that this will become an accepted cooking choice for Hebrideans going forward.