CHALLENGE 4c2: The Circular Kitchen

This is Challenge 4c2 from the main Cape Town framework challenge



(credit: wikpedia)

Note: all our challenges are colaborative. Skype or Google Hangout us to collaborate with us in real-time! Let’s make a better world for everyone together!


The kitchen is the heart of the typical household. Cooking and sharing of food is one of the central household activities that both bond a family and consume energy and material in the household. We can apply circular thinking here to reduce both material and energy resources.


Activity: Global brainstorm session and begin initial design

The object of this challenge is to collaboratively explore the linear processes in cooking and in the objects found in the kitchen and see how we can convert them to circular ones. The end goal will be to create a website called The Circular Kitchen to serve as a portal for all things circular relating to the kitchen. and to be a directory for open source circular kitchen designs.

Areas to explore:

Cooking Process
When we analyze our cooking techniques, we may find a lot of linear thinking in them. For instance, how many times do we wash and rewash containers? Perhaps there’s no need to do that. If we are cooking something later on anyways, we could perhaps reuse the container without having to wash it again?

If we are boiling pasta, when we finished, what do we do with that perfectly good water? Do we just pour it down the drain? That water can be reused for a soup base. The residual heat in that water can be used for some other cooking process.

The key then, to circular cooking, is to plan ahead and “pipeline” the things you are cooking. By so doing, we can make signficant efficiency gains and reduce waste stream quite a bit.

When we toast bread, there is a tremendous amount of energy that simply escapes as waste heat. Put your hand above the toaster and you’ll see what I mean! What can be done with that waste heat? Can we use it to reheat a cup of cold tea, for instance? We would need to use a flat metal container that could sit on there and heat up quickly.

What about baking and roasting? If we are baking something in the oven, why not bake two things? granola bars AND pizza! Plan so that energy is maximized.

From lowtech magazine, stove tops are very inefficient. There are old stove designs which had insulation around the cooking element and prevented the heat from escaping. Why not design a pot insulator that can fit on top cooking elements? This way, heat does not escape into the air and the captured residual heat will mean much less energy required to cook.

if we commercialize any of these ideas, why not create a cooperative to share the wealth? Create a cooeperative within marginalized communities to help the people begin to find a way out of poverty.


  • engineering
  • industrial design
  • cooking
  • ergonomic engineering
  • sustainable design
  • food science
  • physics
  • biochemistry