Liter of Light uses plastic bottles to make lights in developing communities

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Don’t just recycle that old plastic bottle — turn it into a lantern. At least, that’s what the folks over at Liter of Light are doing. The organization is helping developing communities the world over create their own light sources using nothing more than old plastic bottles, demonstrating just how far you can go when you reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Described as a global, grassroots movement whose aim is to provide affordable, sustainable solar light to those with limited or no access to electricity, Liter of Light depends upon a vast network of partnerships the world over to teach communities how to use their waste to light up their lives. The organization says that it’s been teaching “green skills to empower grassroots entrepreneurs” since its founding back in 2012, and its open-source technology has been lauded by the UN and applied in some UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) camps.

By filling plastic bottles with water and bleach, the organization is able to create day lights — the bottles are attached to roofs and refract sunlight during the day. And when nightfall arrives, a micro solar panel added to the plastic bottle enables a night light powered by the sun.

Best of all, all the parts Liter of Light uses are available to the local community, which means that residents are empowered to create light of their own.

The initiative began just five years ago in the Philippines, and already, has a presence in more than 15 countries. But the goal is far more ambitious — Liter of Light hopes to reach 1 million homes in 2018 (thus far, it has already reached 850,000 homes).

If you’re interested in taking part in Liter of Light, you can either donate directly to the cause, or learn how to create one of these lights yourself.