Plastic bottles turned solar light bulb for lesser-privileged communities

liter of light solar bulbImagine having to live in a dark home, even in the daytime.

Thousands of households in both urban and rural areas in countries like the Philippines have no access to electricity and light. Even when they do, low-income families are unable to afford skyrocketing electric expenses.

According to the National Electrification Commission, 3 million households still remained powerless outside Metro Manila in 2009. And even in the metro, thousands of families still continue to live without indoor light. And thus, A Liter of Light — a sustainable lighting project that aims to bring the solar bottle bulb to these dark households — was born.

A Liter of Light, an initiative by the MyShelter Foundation, aims to provide indoor lighting to a million homes throughout the Philippines by the end of 2012.

What’s great about this project is not just the promise of bringing light to a large number of households, but the fact that the solar light bulb is made using recycled material and harnessing solar power to sustain families and communities.

The solar bottle bulb is a low-cost, eco-friendly lighting alternative made out of a PET plastic bottle, a piece of corrugated metal, and a solution of household chemicals (such as chlorine and bleach) and water.

Designed and developed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), this was based on the concept of Appropriate Technologies – simple and easily replicable innovations that address basic needs in developing communities.

When attached through the roof, the solar bottle bulb refracts sunlight to easily light up a room. The bleach and chlorine prevent mold and other bacteria from growing in the water, making sure that the bulb remains clear and its light bright for up to five years. The light produced by the solar bottle bulb is equivalent to a 55-watt electric bulb — making it a great way to illuminate a small home, minus the electric costs.

And while this innovation does not work at night, recipients of the solar bottle bulb, who often live in homes without windows and get very little outdoor light during the day, find this little contraption very convenient and truly helpful. The bulb not only helps in cutting back on electric expenses, but also in reducing the risk of fires, which is a huge concern in shanty communities.

This lighting project has now made its way to neighboring Asian countries such as India and Indonesia, with more and more people learning how reusing and recycling create wonderful innovations and even livelihood opportunities.

Anyone can start making these solar bottle bulbs in the comfort of their own homes, whether it’s for their own use or for sharing with others. MyShelter Foundation made this nifty little step-by-step instruction video on building and installing solar light bulbs. It’s a great way to help, and an even greater way to promote sustainable, eco-friendly living.

[photo: Mr. Jacob Maentz/A Liter of Light]

About this guest author: George is a writer and blogger who occasionally does work for online companies such as Plastic Place, a wholesaler of both regular and eco-friendly trash bags and garbage bags.

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