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Empty water bottles: The solution to lighting the homes of the poor?

February 17th, 2013 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Empty water bottles: The solution to lighting the homes of the poor?)

Launched in mid 2011, the Liter of Light Project, developed by the My Shelter Foundation, a Philippines-based NGO, is a pioneer in the global fight against poverty, as well as providing an environmentally friendly solution to the problem of how to most effectively recycle plastic bottles.

solarbottlThe Solar Bottle Bulb, originally developed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), provides a cost effective solution to the lighting problem that affects some 12 million Philippine families that either live without electricity or live in fear of having their electricity cut off.

My Shelter Foundation Founder, and social entrepreneur, Ilac Diaz’s programme uses old plastic water bottles, filled with chlorine and water, and places them in custom made holes in the roofs of corrugated iron shanty town buildings. The solution refracts the sunlight and the equivalent luminosity of a 55 Watt bulb is delivered to the room below. While the scheme may not be perfect, as the bulbs do not work during the evening due to a lack of sunlight, the bulbs produce much needed light during the day; something which is having a transformational impact on the lives of the Philippines’ poorest families, many of whose homes lack even windows.

In a country where 40% of the population live off $2 per day, Solar Bottle Bulbs provide a cost-effective solution for creating light, with production only costing $1 per bulb. The programme itself, while having beneficial environmental implications, has also spawned a burgeoning micro-business in some of the Philippines’ poorest communities.