BANGALORE: For the most part of their lives, a family living in Ejipura did not have access to electricity, making it hard for them to work indoors, even during the day. Early this year, an NGO named Liter of Light visited them and installed a device on their premises - a device which, they assured, would provide electricity during the day. The NGO used a 2.25-litre pet bottle, a plastic waste which is often discarded, and filled it with water and liquid bleach. Then they stuck it to a plastic/galvanic sheet in the house with one-thirds of it above the roof. When sunlight fell on the upper part of the bottle, water refracted the light and the solar bottle illuminated, providing light as good as a 65-70-watt bulb.
Liter of Light is a global movement with an aim to provide ecological and free-of-cost lighting solutions to houses. The idea was developed in 2002 by Alfredo Moser from Brazil. Then Illac Diaz from Philippines introduced it as a social enterprise in 2011 under MyShelter Foundation. Based on this model, the Bangalore chapter, spearheaded by Tripti Aggarwal and Pankaj Dixit, started its operations in November, 2013.
Tripti says, “A team of volunteers from Liter of Light Europe and Liter of Light Mumbai had visited Bangalore. They conducted an initial workshop and installations in Laxmanram Nagar, a slum in Ejipura over a week, and helped start the chapter in the city.”
Their first installation as a full-fledged organisation was in January this year. Tripti recalls, “Incidentally, it was around Pongal. We visited a poorly-lit classroom of a government school in Banashankari I Stage and installed these bottles there.” And the outcome, she says, was stupendous which encouraged them to continue with the work in other parts of the city. So far they have installed over 21 daylight bottles and 1 night light bottle in Ejipura, MRS Palaya in Benson Town, Naganahalli in Hebbal and Nandidurg Road.
How cost-effective is this approach? Tripti responds, “The glue which is used to hold the bottle ensures that the unit is leak and crack-proof. The bleach used in the bottle keeps the water clean and prevents algae, moss etc., from growing in it. So a bottle once installed will last up to a five years with almost no maintenance costs.”
So far, they have been able to sustain the project with a little help from the society. They work with SIKA, manufacturer of speciality chemicals to procure industrial glue. They also reach out to caterers and restaurants, students and corporates and rag pickers to get good quality pet bottles.
The only downside to this method is that these bottles only work when the sun is shining bright. “The bottle will be a little dim on a cloudy day, producing upto 30 watts of electricity. Also, so far our solution works only during the day.”
But Tripti says they are working on an equally simple and affordable way to harness solar energy using solar panels to light up the bottles at night.
Going forward, they will also be scaling up their activities - moving to many more parts in Bangalore and subsequently in Karnataka by introducing sub-chapters.
“We are eager to touch many more lives and lighten up the city in collaboration with like-minded organisations who want to take up this green movement with us,” Tripti concludes.