Green Stoves Green Team
Society & Culture, Practice & Voice

Green Team for Green Stoves

**This event will be rescheduled – canceled due to weather***
The Green Team is presenting a free film screening!
Eating Animals, produced by Natalie Portman and Johnathan Safran Foer

A tale of two dinners

Soon It will be dinner time in a suburban Tulsa home. The family meal will be pasta. With the twist of a knob, the cook immediately has the fuel—with electricity or natural gas—to effortlessly bring a pot of water to boiling.

2500 hundred miles to the south, in rural Nicaragua, it will soon be dinner time, the typical meal of black beans and rice. In a corner of a one-room family dwelling, a woman is bending over a makeshift cookstove. She lights a bundle of sticks, adds bigger pieces of wood and starts to boil water. Without wood as fuel, her family would go hungry.

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke

This is the everyday reality for a third of the world’s population, about 3 billion people, nearly all women. They depend on wood and other biomass for cooking fuel. Public health experts now know that years of cooking—inside, over a wood fire— can be deadly.

As a woman builds a fire, clouds of smoke rise. Without a flue or chimney, the smoke can’t escape to the outside. The whole family breathes in tiny particles of ash that are trapped in the lungs. Women and children are closest to the fire and the most exposed.

Kirk R. Smith, a professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley, states that “Cooking on an open fire in your home is like burning 400 cigarettes an hour in your kitchen.”

Each year, breathing in smoke from inefficient cookstoves causes more 3 million deaths, twice as many deaths as malaria or HIV/AIDS.

Forests are threatened

In addition to the health dangers, there is also alarming environmental damage. Families spend up to 5 hours a day searching for fuel. The relentless search for wood is a major threat to forests around the world. In the last 25 years, Nicaragua has lost 5 percent of its forestland.

Many countries aren’t blessed with the natural gas reserves or the electric grid that would allow choosing another fuel source for cooking.

A revolution in stove design

One solution that is gaining support is replacing open-fire cooking with a “green stove” a safer and more efficient way to cook meals.

As a member of the All Souls Green Team, we work toward sustainable solutions to climate change. We partnered with All Souls micro-banking team, Village Banking, and JustHope, a Tulsa non-profit that works to combat poverty and create sustainable community in Nicaragua. The trip allowed us to learn more about the community, connect with women entrepreneurs who benefit from All Soul’s micro-banking, and to build green stoves for two families.

Green Team for Green Stoves

As we shoveled sand and mixed  concrete, we saw how the design of the stove is safer for the family and better for the environment. Constructing the stove took two half-days, giving the concrete time to cure.

This green stove is much more efficient requiring 80 percent less fuel than an open fire. A chimney and flue draw smoke out of the home, away from the family. Locally produced bricks make the structure and empty pop bottles trap air and provide insulation, making the outside of the stove is safe to touch. The cooking surface is waist high, has two places for pots and even a flat space for heating tortillas. It is covered with attractive tile and will last at least 20 years.

To see how the green stove was built, check out this short video I created from our trip:

Read more from the 2018 All Souls International trip to Nicaragua from fellow traveler and author, Kim Marsh-MacLeod in Chacraseca: Raising Nicaraguan Families Out of Poverty, and On the Ground in Chacraseca.

Want to make a difference in the world? Sign up for Sienna Project 2019
Trip dates: January 27 through February 3, 2019  |  Details and to register: email
Build schools in the Guatemalan highlands where schools are desperately needed. The Sienna Project is a living memorial to the Lavanhar’s late daughter, Sienna. The Sienna Project is planning their 2019 trip now! Read more from the 2017 trip written by Rev. Marlin Lavanhar on


  1. JustHope: A Hug from Afar - BeyondBelief

    […] only connected with women who are supported by Village Banking’s micro-lending, but also built Green Stoves for two […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *