Bringing Light to the World’s Dark Problems

20 Sep

I wanted to share with the class this amazing and ingenious solution to a problem millions of people in the world face: lighting for their homes. So before I get into it, I want you guys to watch this video:

Crazy, right? In a world where using up more resources than we have is the norm, communities with next-to-nothing are harnessing the power of the sun to bring light into their homes, save on electricity and lower their carbon footprint.

The “Solar Bottle Bulb” as it’s being referred to started off in the Philippines, in poor communities that either have no power or can’t afford it. Most homes using the bulbs don’t have windows because they’re built wall-to-wall, so they’re forced to either use limited funds to keep a bulb on all day or stay the day outside if their house isn’t powered. The faux-bulb reflects light 360 degrees around a room, with electricity equaling 55 watts. And the best part is it costs little to nothing.

According to the Ecopreneurist, “The chlorine and bleach ‘poisons’ the water to keep molds from developing so the solution can last up to five years. The clear and purified water helps disperse the light through refraction, so the light is not concentrated. It only costs $2-3 to make a solar bottle bulb that is bringing light to dark homes.”

According to statistics from the National Electrification Commission in 2009, 3 million households still remain powerless outside Metro Manila in the Philippines. On top of that, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) reports a large number of fire-related incidents due to faulty electrical connections. So not only is it an extreme burden and inconvenience, but electricity in the Philippines is dangerous.

The concept has really taken off, lighting thousands of makeshift homes around parts of the world. MyShelter Foundation is working to light a million homes nationwide by 2012. Even though it’s not clear who fist came up with the concept, The Solar Bottle Bulb used for MyShelter Foundation was designed by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Places like Colombia and Argentina are also taking advantage of this cheap and green idea.

Things like this fascinate me because the concept is just so simple. I know this is not a completely fool-proof idea; the bulb obviously does not work at night and when it is overcast or raining. But even if families could offset the cost of lighting their homes during the day, it could help tremendously. How can we not celebrate lifting off such a burden ?


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