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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid