A Bright Idea Lights Up Homes in the Philippines

Photo by HuggingFitMom | flickr.com

Have you ever experienced one of those light-bulb moments when a brilliant idea just pops above your head? Illac Diaz, the founder of MyShelter Foundation, certainly felt that moment, but maybe in a more literal sense than others.

Called the Solar Bottle Bulb, this innovation is the keystone of Diaz’s latest venture, entitled “A Liter of Light”. The grassroots initiative was developed to aid those residing in ‘slum’ communities of Manila, Philippines, where many homes lack access to light. While electricity is available for residents in most neighbourhoods, it is oftentimes unaffordable. Therefore, individuals who spend most of their days inside their homes (mainly women) are cloaked in darkness. 

The solution, therefore, was to create another source of light. Through the collaboration of many innovative individuals, an economically-cheap and environmentally-friendly product was developed: the Solar Bottle Bulb.  What is this magic creation? Nothing but a re-used 2-litre plastic bottle filled with water and some bleach. Yep, that’s all.

To install this bulb, a simple hole is cut through a home’s steel roof and the bottle, filled with water and a small amount of bleach to keep algae away, is placed in the hole and sealed. 

These bulbs function on the basic principle of refraction: as sunlight hits the water inside the bottle, the light is refracted into the home, thus brightening the previously-dim space. This “bulb” then provides approximately 55 watts of light for residents. 

While it may be difficult to imagine, a video or image quickly displays how well this contraption functions, as well as how thankful individuals are to have it. The cost of the bulb is only one dollar (since it is based on recycled bottles), yet the residents benefit from lowered electrical bills, the creation of jobs (“bulb installers”), and better home accommodations. Furthermore, from an environmental point-of-view, this idea is practically high-fiving Mother Nature by decreasing electricity use and re-using plastic bottles that would otherwise do harm to our environment. This abundance of benefits would explain why 10,000 bulbs have already been installed since April, 2011. 

This refreshingly simple, yet greatly impactful innovation seems quite deserving of the term “bright idea.”