#162 One man’s trash is another’s treasure

Photo from video below

Sanu Kaji Shrestha has given new meaning to the old saying. What others see as trash and litter, he sees as alternative energy.

In 2002 the retired World Bank official and solar energy hobbyist founded the Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST). He knew there had to be a better way to find cooking fuel than to stand in line for three days. That was what he had to do when a shortage hit Kathmandu in 1995.

He also knew the toxic dangers of poorly ventilated cook stoves and the environmental damage caused by cutting forests for firewood. So he began researching ways of creating a supply of domestically produced, sustainable energy.

After Sanu Kaji Shrestha retired in 2001, he traveled extensively to study sustainable technologies in Europe and the U.S. One of his first inventions was a solar cooker he designed after the 1995 fuel shortage. But the idea for the ingenious invention that is turning trash into treasure came to him when floods clogged Kathmandu’s drains.

Shrestha took some of the pulp from waterlogged cardboard boxes that were stopping up the drains. He molded them in a tin can and created a briquette that could be used for cooking fuel.

Since that first briquette he has refined the process into a technology that people in poor and rural areas can easily implement. Persuading people to switch to waste fuel is not easy, but Shrestha is determined. With only a little funding from some American Rotary Clubs, he travels throughout Asia, training villages how to gather and separate waste and manufacture their own fuel briquettes.

His inspiring story is told in the video below as well as in a BBC documentary that was filmed in 2007.

And if you want to get to know the inspiring man behind the face smiling out of his photos, you can also find him on Facebook.


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Dinesh - October 29, 2011

It’s a great initiative from Sanu Kaji Shrestha to transform trash and junk material into something useful. On the Solar cooker it’s a great initiative, but it has some limitations like in case of climate change or rainy seasons the solar cooker might be ineffective. I came across a NGO Junglescapes from India who have installed Low Smoke Chulha (Stove) in rural area of India, the best part is it can be locally produced and is quite economical. It is being made available to the poor at a subsidized price. The main benefits are it reduces the harmful indoor smoke which leads to latarn and respiratory problems for the women cooking. You can read more about it more over here.


    admin - October 29, 2011

    Low-Smoke Chulha – a wonderful initiative to learn about. Thank you so much for the link and yet another reason for hope.

    Sanu Kaji Shrestha - December 4, 2011

    Thanks Dineshji for your comment. Solar cooker is simply a stove. Every stove needs some energy either in the form of fire wood, kerosene and gas or in the form of solar energy. If there is no energy these stoves cannot be used. We develop chulha without extra energy, natural way which can be easily built by anybody from the trash such as paint cans. Thanks,

M Shivaprasad - December 23, 2011


Amazing and marvelous. Just today only i got a mail from US that an NGO is building some 100 affordable houses to poor people it was then i came to know that poverty is hard hitting such a beautiful nation. Keep in touch i will surely catch you on facebook as and when get your reply. Carry on your good work GOD is now real (scientifically proved by big Bang team)surely more help will be on its way to you. GOD Bless You – HIS HIGHNESS SRI SANU KAJI SHRESHTHA.


M Shivaprasad
Navi Mumbai

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