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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs