British billionaire promotes solar bulbs

david de rothschild
By Helen Flores/The Philippine Star – A British billionaire and a local organization have launched a nationwide campaign aimed at helping poor Filipino families cope with the rising costs of electricity through the use of solar bulbs made out of recycled plastic bottles.

Billionaire and world renowned explorer David de Rothschild together with Illac Diaz, founder of My Shelter Foundation, promoted the use of plastic bottles cum solar light bulbs.

De Rothschild, 35, is the youngest of three children of Victoria Lou Schott and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking family of England.

Diaz, who made waves in the world of sustainable development through his Liter of Light project, said the campaign aims to rally Filipinos to do their part in addressing pressing environmental issues.

“Creating sustainable solutions to help ourselves and others around the world is not out of our reach. Filipinos can do it,” Diaz said in a statement.

Initially some 150 families will benefit from free lighting using solar power, he said.

Hundreds of bulbs made out of repurposed plastic bottles will be distributed in several poor communities in Tondo, Manila.

Diaz hopes that his project would help families cope with the rising costs of electricity.

While the Philippines is one of the countries best suited for solar power – being second in Southeast Asia in terms of irradiation and insolation – solar devices are expensive and therefore inaccessible to the poor.

Solar bulbs, for example, cost P600 each, the foundation said.

My Shelter Foundation is training Filipinos on how to do the contraption themselves.

De Rothschild and Diaz recently opened the first Solar Pavilion in the Philippines at the Rizal Park in Manila.

The solar-powered pavilion used recycled plastic bottles placed inside plastic crates supported by strong plastic ties and scaffoldings.

South African environmentalist/designer Stephen Lamb designed the interior of the pavilion using hydroponics that allowed plants to grow without the use of soil and using only mineral nutrient solutions in water.

Since it was launched in 2010, the Liter of Light project has lighted 120,000 homes in the Philippines and 350,000 globally.

The idea has since been shared with other nations such as India, Indonesia, Peru, and Switzerland.

In late 2010, de Rothschild launched his boat called the “Plastiki,” built from approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and a unique recyclable technology called Seretex.

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