Spreading Sunlight in Homes Around The Globe

Posted by on December 1, 2011 in How-To, Photos, World

Plastic Bottle Insulation - Photo by Robin Canfield

There are many movements around the globe working to solve the growing burden of discarded plastics. Some new organizations like Vadxx are returning plastic to it’s prior state – oil – and thereby saving bottles from ending up in trash heaps. Some government entities have simply outlawed certain plastics in an effort to slow their production in the first place. One of the most surprising new movements, however, is to incorporate plastics as-is, in the construction of buildings. This past summer I saw a local radio station at La Prusia, just outside Granada, Nicaragua that used the soda bottles for sound insulation.

From Guatemala to the Philippines, the biggest use of plastic bottles for construction seems to be in building schools.

MyShelter Foundation Plastic Bottle School

In the Phillippines, these schools are being built by the MyShelter Foundation, and their Executive Director, the very successful changemaker Illac Diaz.

What Diaz has been touting lately is about plastic bottles, but it isn’t schools, it’s lights. This is a movement that will change the re-use of plastics from the top-down, rather than the bottom-up.

Diaz and the MyShelter Foundation, working with students from MIT, have created Isang Litrong Liwanag, or “Litre of Light” – a movement that is spreading the word about a source of solar light even more affordable than Stephen Katsaros’s new solar light bulb, albeit one that only works in the daytime.

The idea is quite simple – what better way to lighten up a dark room than with a hole that lets the sun shine in? By filing that hole with a plug that keeps out the elements, but still lets in light. In this case, the bottle doesn’t just let light in, but it refracts it, spreading light more thoroughly across a room and, on a sunny day, works about as well as a 50 watt bulb. On a rainy day, well, you still have some light.

Surprisingly, this idea is already almost a decade old. Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser made his first bottle light in 2002 during a power outage in Sao Paulo. It took five years for this message to get out to the world on how to spread light to people without electricity, but now the idea has been taken up by news agencies, changemakers and people who are just looking to save money.

Surely there are others in the world who have thought of cutting a hole in their roof for light, but only Alfredo Moser will be remembered as brilliant for it. The story of this success, pushed most vehemently by Litre of Light, is an amazing one.

Robin Canfield - Curator_of_Good

A co-founder of Actuality Media - an organization that takes students to developing countries to create documentaries about changemakers. There are so many more organizations that are deserving of coverage in the world that each week I blog about an inspirational changemaker that I would like to see more media about.

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