If you ever want to see prime examples of human ingenuity go for a walk through one of the many shanty towns which sits at the outskirts of nearly every major city in the developing world. There you will find entire neighborhoods constructed of trash, discarded materials, and just about anything that the occupants can find. It is amazing what structures people can make with only a sheet of corrugated metal, plastic sheeting, a stack of cinder blocks, milk crates, and miscellaneous pieces of plastic. But one of the most ingenuitive adaptions to these houses was referred to me by my friend Mike Mcquire, who sent me a video which shows a way to make natural interior light using only a plastic bottle, water, and bleach.
Photo credit: Gizmag
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The way this works is that daylight hits the soda bottle on the roof and the water refracts the rays through the hole, pouring light into the room below. the bleach keeps the insides of the bottles from molding.
As is shown in the video, this method is not only used by people without electrical lighting but by those who want to save money on electricity as well. The latter strategy will be of more use to people living above the slum line who want to knock down their electricity usage a little by using the forever free lighting of the sun.
Part of the value of travel is having the opportunity to see how other people do things, observe their ingenuity, and then copy their ideas in other settings. Although I have yet to observe these water bottle interior lights in person, I will take this idea and share in with others, and the next time I find myself building a structure without an electrical hook up I will be sure to cut well placed holes in the roof and stuff them with plastic bottles full of water and bleach for natural interior lighting.