Light by plastic

Plastic bottles, water and bleach are working to bring light into the lives of people living in a Manila slum.

From the Series

In a Manila slum neighbourhood in the Philippines, one notices plastic bottles jutting from the roofs of the informal homes. But these plastic bottles serve a very particular purpose here – they bring light.

This plastic bottle/light initiative is part of a project called “Isang Litrong Liwanag”, which translates to “A Litre of Light”. That’s because the plastic bottles are filled with water and bleach, and then placed into a purpose-built hole in the roof of the slum home. Here the plastic bottle is able to reflect sunlight into the room below.

Literally bringing light in the homes and lives of some of the poorest people, this project is the brainchild of eco-entrepreneur Ilac Diaz, who is passionate about improving the standard of living of the bottom 90% of Manila’s population.

Some 10 000 bottle lights have been made and installed across Manila, with communities, local government and private partners working together. It helps that it takes less than an hour to build and install the light, while it is believed that the light will stay clear for about five years. The bleach in the water prevents the build-up of algae.