News / Asia

Soda Bottle Solar Bulbs Bring Light to Thousands in the Philippines

Sheila Royeras admires the soda bottle solar bulbs that were installed in her shanty home. The bulbs are made out of a soda bottle, purified water and some bleach. San Juan City, Metropolitan Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2011.
Sheila Royeras admires the soda bottle solar bulbs that were installed in her shanty home. The bulbs are made out of a soda bottle, purified water and some bleach. San Juan City, Metropolitan Manila, Philippines, November 18, 2011.
Simone Orendain

Thousands of small houses in low-income areas of the Philippines’ capital region are receiving ultra cheap, energy-efficient light bulbs this week. The installations are part of a broader push to install the bulbs made from plastic soda bottles in one million homes by 2012. 

Sheila Royeras says she, her husband, her mother and two children spend much of their time in the dark - even during they day. Their tiny house sits less than a meter from a two-story building under construction and among close, cramped units. Natural light comes in only through the small front door. They cannot afford to use electric lights during the day.

On a recent morning, volunteer workers outfitted Royeras’ house with solar light bulbs made out of used plastic soda bottles, some purified water and bleach.

The workers cut a circle exactly the size of the bottle’s diameter into the corrugated metal roof. The one liter bottle, filled with water and two caps-full of bleach- to keep it clean and clear- is placed inside the hole, with half of the bottle poking through the roof to the inside of the house. The bottle stays in place with sealant - to keep rain out - and a small metal brace that is hammered into the roof. The liquid inside refracts sunlight and disperses about 55-watts of light into the house below. The bulbs have a five-year life.

At the end of the installation, the 15-to-20 square meter house is illuminated by three solar bulbs. Speaking in Tagalog, Royeras says having the free lights will bring a lot in savings.

Royeras says she is much happier because she expects the next electric bill to be quite a bit lower. She laughs and says she will be able to buy food for her family.

Illac Diaz, who heads the non-profit MyShelter Foundation, which is heading up this project, says in the tropics poor people live in cramped, darkened areas sealed off from rain and the searing sun. Diaz says residents should opt for this kind of bulb, instead of relying on candles or other potential fire hazards.

“It’s safer. It’s healthier," says Diaz. "It’s brighter and the funny thing is the light bulb actually comes from the place you’d least expect it, which is the trash bin. So it’s the cheapest light bulb in the world.”

Government officials say the Philippines has the highest electricity rates in Asia. Diaz says this low-tech alternative to energy efficient light bulbs will save customers an average of $10 per month on their electric bills.

The light bulb project is also set up to help poor people gain employment. The foundation currently pays a small fee to scavengers who collect the bottles and assemble and install the bulbs. Diaz says some are making a business of it.

“Once we give the technology to grassroots entrepreneurs to build it," said Diaz. "There is no limit to where it goes.”

Diaz says he has helped set up offices in Mexico, Columbia and India, where other non-government agencies have started the lighting project.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More