A simple idea that originated in Philippines is now the inspiration behind Liter of Light Mumbai that is already providing a cost-effective method to light homes in the city where electricity is a problem. It deals with a very simple concept a 1.5 litre soft drink bottle, filled with water and liquid bleach, suspended from a roof, gives out (white) light equal to a 55-watt electricity bulb.
The Liter of Light Mumbai chapter was started in November last year by a group of like-minded people including Priyanka Bhosale, Akilesh Subramanian, Amar Kharate and Karan Pathak who form the core team. Their partnering group, Liter of Light Switzerland was in Mumbai during that period to train students and professionals so they could prepare and install these bottles.
The idea here was to reach out to homes in and around the city, who are compelled to use artificial light (electricity) even in the day as their homes are built closely together due to lack of space. The result: plummeting electricity bills and some contribution towards reducing global warming.
The Mumbai Chapter
“As part of our training with the Swiss team, we have installed between 10-15 bottles at Reay Road, Worli Koliwada, Backbay and Santacruz. People living in these areas have asked to install more such bottles, at the earliest. We have also conducted a workshop at RA Poddar College, Matunga, talking to students about this project,” says Subramanian.
Currently, the Mumbai chapter of the initiative has tied up with Sanskar India Foundation (NGO) and Labour Education and Research Network (LEARN, an NGO based in Dharavi), which are helping them reach their areas of work. “For now, Sanskar India Foundation and Liter of Light, Mumbai are undertaking a detailed profiling and mapping of those bottles installed at Worli Koliwada. The idea is to attempt to quantify the impact of installation of solar bottles on the electricity consumption within a household.
Liter of Light, Mumbai and LEARN are in talks to make this project so that it promotes social entrepreneurship among local residents in the slums. The idea is to train local craftsmen in installing bottles; the process is very simple, such that they can earn a living through this as well,” informs Bhosale
Practical all the way
The cost of installing a solar bottle in a home is zero. However, for the team, making each bottle and sticking it to the roof costs between Rs 400-Rs 500 because of the glue needed to stick the bottle.
“However, Sika, a German company has agreed to sponsor this glue for us. In addition, we have our toolbox sponsored by BTI (Befestigungstechnik Ingelfingen, makers of industrial equipments) that help us to install these bottles. Apart from the glue, we also need some resources for the bottles. We have been encouraging people to get in touch with us and ‘donate’ empty plastic bottles,” adds Kharate.
This Republic Day, the team accomplished a successful pilot project in Nashik, where they installed a bottle in one home, which will be closely monitored, and conducted two workshops. “We have a few workshops in the pipeline with a college in South Mumbai (name cannot be disclosed as the details are yet to be finalised), tie-ups with NGOs across Mumbai and more installations,” reveals Pathak.
How it works
The bottle, is sealed shut with glue, is stuck onto a corrugated plastic sheet and again stuck on the roof, with about 1/4th of the bottle above the roof. When sunlight falls on the upper part of the bottle, water detracts the light and the water is illuminated. The bottle lasts for 5 years. Interestingly, the bleach has nothing to do with lighting up the water. It is used to ensure no moss or algae grow in the water. Apart from being eco-friendly, this bottle helps reduce electricity consumption, which is a very costly affair in a city like Mumbai, especially for slum dwellers.
How you can help
>> Store empty 1.5 litre soft drink bottles. The team will drop by your homes to pick these.
>> You could also organise collection drives in your school/college/locality.
>> If you see homes that do not have a source of natural light during the day, inform the team. They will come over and help you in adopting your neighbourhood so that some homes can be lit up.
>> You may also organise workshops at your college/organisation if you wish to do some installations yourself.
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