Think humankind discovering fire was revolutionary? How about a cardboard box that uses the sun’s rays to cook without burning firewood? That’s precisely what the Kyoto Box, a cardboard solar cooker, can do. Made out of basic, 5th-grade-science-experiment type materials, the Kyoto box solar cooker offers a life-altering solution for thousands of people: the ability to cook and heat water without burning wood. So how does it work? Inventor John Bohmer says the box uses “the greenhouse effect for something good.”

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The Kyoto Box consists of two cardboard boxes, one which Bohmer’s own 5-year-old daughter helped him paint black, and another covered with tin foil to help concentrate the sun’s rays. A plexiglass cover is used to trap heat inside making it possible for the box to boil and bake, but not fry, so it is arguable that it is healthy as well.  The Kyoto Box is already in production at a factory in Nairobi, and Bohmer hopes to offer a the box in a recycled plastic form in the future. The cost of the box will be a mere 5 euros.

The idea for the Kyoto Box came from Kenyan-based inventor John Bohmer’s desire to create a cooking apparatus that would eliminate the need to burn lumber, which not only leads to deforestation but also emits harmful CO2. Judges of Forum for the Future’s Climate Change Challenge were certainly impressed by the ability of the box to alleviate global warming issues, but were even more keen on the what the Kyoto Box could mean to parts of the world where finding lumber to cook with and clean water to drink is an everyday struggle.

Photos courtesy of and

NOTE: Updates have revealed that the Kyoto Box is just one version of a solar cardboard cooker. Other examples can be found here and here, or through a google search.