This Earth hour we are being asked to switch off any lights or electronic devices for 1 hour. We know for many this seems an extreme hardship but do you realize that in many parts of the world even something as mundane as electricity, which we all take for granted, is not only uncommon but actually a service only available to the wealthy.
While we are turning off our lights for 1 hour to highlight the effects of climate change and the need for climate action, in many countries there are no lights to turn off. One fifth of the world’s population lives without electricity.
Lately something has become more and more widespread which is helping to alleviate this universal darkness, Soda Bottle Lights.
What exactly is a soda bottle light?
In 2002, during a blackout in Brazil, Alfredo Moser was looking for an alternate source of light. He knew you could use a soda bottle filled with water to focus the sunlight when starting a fire, so why not use something similar to provide light. He started playing around with the idea and soon had a soda bottle light working and lighting up his workshop. He had an engineer measure the light and it was in the range of 40 to 60 watts depending on the strength of the sun.
This simple idea is now bringing light into hundreds of thousands of homes around the globe. In the Philippines where a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line and electricity is very expensive, these lamps are now being fitted in homes in poorer neighbourhoods. India, Bangladesh, Tanzania & Argentina are just a few of the over 15 countries which have adopted this technique.
Many international aid organizations such as Liter of Light have taken up the cause and are installing these lights in areas with limited or no access to electricity as well as training local residents how to make them.
These lights are simple and inexpensive to make:
- take an empty 1.5 or 2 liter clear plastic soda bottle
- fill with clean water
- add a little bleach to prevent algae and discolouration of the water
- make hole in roof
- insert filled bottle in hole
- seal around bottle to prevent leaks
You now have a working soda bottle light bulb! The water refracts the sunlight and a small room can be illuminated with 100% passive solar light, the equivalent of a 55 watt bulb. People now enjoy free sunlight to read, work or cook. Young students are now able to study peacefully in their homes allowing them to get an education. With the addition of a simple circuit, plastic tubing, battery, LED lights and a small solar panel this installation can be adapted to supply an additional 10 hours of light at night. Check out the Instructional video for step by step instructions on how to make your own solar light.
These solar lights have the added benefit of recycling more than 350,000 plastic bottles to date, reducing the stress on landfills. Solar lights have no carbon emissions and protect people from indoor air pollution by eliminating the need to burn kerosene lamps.