The washing machine is amongst the greatest time-saving inventions. The statistician Hans Rosling boldly claims the humble washing machine enabled economic development through electrical efficiency, as well as facilitating its users’ intellectual growth by reallocating free time.
It may not immediately strike us that washing machines are so important, but across the West labour-saving devices lightened the burden of household chores and freed up time so that women could enter the workforce.
Both Rosling in his popular presentations, and Clay Shirky, attests that the washing machine is the antithesis of television, freeing up a similar ‘cognitive surplus’ — excess human creative and intellectual energy — that TV absorbed. Everyday home appliances exemplify the potential of technology as a force of social change.
So, washing machines are terrific: relieving people (mainly women) of hours hunched over mangling clothes; shifting the balance of household chores between the sexes; with the free time allowing users to realise their potentials elsewhere. But unfortunately they are a luxury for only the richest people in the world, until now, until GiraDora, the $40 washing machine.
The GiraDora is an affordable, pedal-powered machine that can spin, wash, and, dry clothes in a fraction of the time it takes to do it by hand. Designed specifically for those with lower incomes to ease the burden of washing clothes. The portable tub is filled with soap and water before a lid is placed on top, which doubles up as a seat. Then, all the user needs to do is rest on the washer, and pump the spring-loaded foot pedal. Ta-dah!
What’s also got me about this social innovation is that it is an example of a leapfrog technology: a technology that passes over the environmentally-damaging version, or older, less efficient version by offering a smarter, cheaper, and greener alternative.
There are hundreds of millions of people who don’t have the convenience of just tossing their dirty clothes into a washer and dryer when they get dirty. These people still wash by hand using a bucket, or in some cases a local stream. Washing clothes can take many hours this way, but this could all be about to change with GiraDora- a foot powered washing machine and dryer, with a price tag of just $40. On the interior there is a smaller bucket along with an agitator. All you have to do is simply put the laundry, water and soap into the tub and then while sitting on the lid, power the machine with the foot pedal which churns the agitator around.