Plastic bottles: From scourge to saviour

Used plastic bottles, long the scourge of landfills and waste bins, could take on a second life as light sources if a green-energy company has its way.

The ‘Litter of Light’, a movement started in Phillipines by the My Shelter Foundation uses plastic bottles to provide light, but using only water and sunlight.

Illac Diaz, the Executive Director of the Foundation, who recently visited Bangalore for a conference, said that Green technology is not only an option but it is essential.

“Bottles, which otherwise go into the trash can be saved and be put to good use. A bottle filled with water and chlorine, cemented through a hole in the roof refracts sunlight during the day time and gives out light equivalent to a 55 watt bulb. The chlorine prevents germs from clouding the water, allowing it to last for almost five years,” he explained.

A hit among students

The idea was originally the brainchild of Alfredo Moser, a mechanic who used water bulbs in his shop to save electricity. It later proved popular with several students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Diaz said that the idea is a win-win solution, considering its low costs and because it does not use resources such as electricity.

“For these reasons, it is an effective way to light up schools and villages located in lower socio-economic backgrounds. The device takes only five minutes to make and five minutes to instal.

We have volunteers worldwide to help us with this mission and we hope to spread the idea to various countries,” he told Deccan Herald. Diaz also hopes to push other ‘green’ technologies using Moser’s original ideas.

“We are constantly looking to innovate using simple materials and simple skills which have big benefits,” he said and explained that hydroponics is another area where water bulbs can be used.

Using bamboo shoots and drip irrigation in a room with these water-filled bulbs to refract the sun's rays, plants can be grown, he said.

This could benefit agriculturists because the plants are well-protected against excess rain and require lesser space — all the while being exposed to sunlight — through bulbs.
“We also specialise in alternative architecture. We have built schools, water harvesting systems and so on using materials like bottles, cans and bamboo in many places, including Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Africa,” he said.

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