Volunteers Turn Plastic Bottles Into Cheap Lights for the Poor. 350,000 Families Are Happy, and It’s Not the End

This may sound somewhat strange in the 21st century, but those of us who can afford to read a book by the light of a lamp are considered privileged. According to statistics, around 840 million people around the globe still have no access to electricity. The team behind the global movement known as Liter of Light found a genius way to turn used plastic bottles into affordable sources of light for families in need, and they’ve already brought light and happiness to thousands of people.

We couldn’t believe our eyes here at Bright Side when we saw how a simple plastic bottle could become a reliable light source for people in need, and we want to tell you how it works!

The Liter of Light volunteers are ending energy poverty “one bottle at a time”, and here’s how they’re doing it.

The Liter of Light organization was started by MyShelter Foundation in the Philippines back in 2011. Its founding father Illac Diaz was shocked by the conditions many local families were living in after damaging storms when he worked as a telecommunications manager. Then it struck him: there must be a cheap way to bring light to these underprivileged families.

Diaz left his work and enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study urban planning and architecture. There he learned about the bottle light technology that was first developed by a Brazilian mechanic, Alfredo Moser, in 2002.

When Diaz returned to the Philippines he started to introduce this clever design in his home country and helped to install magical lights in thousands of households. Now, years later, this global volunteer movement is present in 15 countries of the world and the network is constantly growing!

So how do these magical bottle lights work?

The components needed to assemble a solar-powered bottle light and make it work are pretty simple. You’ll need:

  • An empty plastic bottle
  • Water
  • Galvanized steel
  • Bleach
  • Sunshine

A simply constructed vessel filled with bleached water is installed in the roof so that the water in the bottle refracts the sunlight through all the building, providing brightness equal to a conventional 50-watt bulb. The video that explains how to make the light, step by step, went viral and inspired even more people to join the movement.

For cases when the light is needed at night with no sunshine available, the team developed a more complicated variation of the lamp equipped with batteries, solar panels, and LED lights. Other variations of lamps that use PVC pipes or bamboo poles may be installed outside the houses to lighten up the streets at night.

More than 350,000 people now have light in their homes and villages, but the movement isn’t stopping here.

The Liter of Light team developed a non-stop learning and teaching model that helps to explain how to make and install bottle lights to people all over the world. The movement is growing bigger day by day, attracting more and more people. “If you teach enough people how to make solar lights they can keep their communities safe with solar streetlights,” says Diaz. “3 to 5 watts is all that’s needed to light an entire village. One watt times the million people who do it could be more powerful than a large-scale power plant.

If you want to learn more about the Liter of Light movement, or even become part of it, you can find more details on their Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as their website.

What do you think about the Liter of Light movement after reading the article? Do you think we should find more ways to turn old scraps into something useful? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

Preview photo credit literoflight / Instagram
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