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Low tech as good as high tech

A recent Sunday Times report noted that a new company funded by the charitable arm of Royal Dutch Shell has produced a cheap stove that also cuts smoke and toxic emissions by 80%. An interesting factor of social enterprise innovation has been that is covers both high tech and low tech. Often low tech solutions are ignored by the Western World, yet many in the social sector are dealing with issues in the developing world and have come up with very innovative solutions to such issues.

The company is called Envirofit and is a spinout from the University of Colorado. It claims that its $20 stoves cut smoke and toxic emissions by 80%, and halve the amount of fuel that is needed. It aims to sell 10m in the developing world over the next five years. Envirofit’s goal is to develop and distribute well-engineered energy products that address major environmental problems in the global emerging markets that traditionally have been overlooked.

Another innovative approach is the 15 below jacket.   Developed to help homeless people in Canada—who face winter temperatures of as low as -30 degrees Celsius—Canadian ad agency TAXI developed the 15 Below Jacket. The garment  owes its insulating properties to old newspapers. The jacket is distributed to the homeless by the Salvation Army, the jacket’s durable, waterproof and wind-resistant case has internal pockets in the sleeves, body and hood for its owner to fill with newspaper. TAXI wanted a ‘big idea’ to celebrate 15 years of success and to give something back to the community. Over 3,000 jackets have now been donated.

In world where high tech rules, sometimes we forget that low tech solutions can be just as good.

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