Ever chucked one of those plastic water bottles in the garbage like it was... well garbage? Turns out there's something quite phenomenal you can do with a 1-liter transparent PET bottle and some clear water. "Liter of Light" is a wonderful project working to provide free, sustainable, cost-effective lighting in urban slums and houses around the world with no access to cheap electricity. How? That's where the plastic bottle comes in.
Okay, I'm not giving it away yet, but just stick with me here. The whole thing began with a Brazilian mechanic named Alfredo Moser. He realized that the cheapest and easiest way to light up a room is to just use sunlight. The sun is shining bright outside, so why not just cut a hole in the roof to let the light in? But that only results in a beam of light brightening up a small patch of the room.
What he did next was the brilliant part. He filled a plastic, transparent bottle with water, added some bleach (to keep algae from growing), and plugged it into the hole in the roof. The water in the bottle refracts the beam of sunlight and spreads it around 360 degrees to all parts of the room. The level of light equals that of a 55-watt bulb!
Moser's out-of-the-box solution was picked up by the My Shelter foundation and a bunch of MIT students, and thus "A Liter of Light" was born. I came across this project in Bangalore, India, where the team is working. According to Facts About India, 43% or 73 million rural households in India depend on kerosene - a major health hazard - for lighting. Another 0.5% or 1 million have no lighting access at all. An idea like this can be life-transforming for many people, providing them with cheap, sustainable and safe lighting.
The project is now working in Kenya as well with the long-term goal to reach a million households in the country in the next ten years. Liter of Light - Kenya is also looking to go a step beyond eco-friendly lighting solutions. They envision the project being serviced by 25,000 grassroots entrepreneurs - young men and women who will create and install these "bottle lights" as part of a micro-entrepreneur program. The team is also working with the My Shelter Foundation and Liter of Light - Philippines to develop a "Night Solution Solar Bottle" that uses solar-powered, battery-fitted bottles that work at night as well.