A recent innovation in the Philippines has brought waste plastic bottles into the spotlight. American university students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in conjunction with the MyShelter Foundation have been involved in a sustainable lighting initiative that has spurned on Isang Litrong Liwanag or the A Litre of Light project by turning old plastic drink bottles into solar bulbs without the need for any electricity.

The new lightbulbs use nothing but the sun’s energy. Plastic bottles are filled with water, add a few drops of household bleach, seal it and then install it on a roof which allows the sun’s rays to shine through the water filled bottle producing almost as much light as a 60w lightbulb. Its that simple.

The ambitious goals set by Isang Litrong Liwanag seek to light a million homes in the Philippines by the end of 2012. The need for such a project could not have been made any clearer:

According to statistics from the National Electrification Commission in 2009, 3 million households still remain powerless outside Metro Manila… MyShelter envisions sharing to underprivileged communities an economically- and ecologically-sustainable source of light that will provide an immediate solution to our fellowmen’s problems.

Here’s a clip of local champion Solar Demi in action as he transforms homes in Sitio Maligaya by bottling light for local residents – installing over 630 solar bottle bulbs since he started.

More information on the project partners (including Pepsi Cola), new countries that have been picking up on the idea (such as Uganda) and interactive maps can all be found on their website at http://isanglitrongliwanag.org/

Activity: Are you interested in building a solar bottle bulb as an activity for your class or the group that you work with? Here’s a short video guide explaining everything you need to know.

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Feel free to check out our sustainable development module for teacher resources on debating climate change, various Third World perspectives and reasons why sustainable development relates to every individual’s life and the reasons why change is needed.

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