Illac Diaz displays solar lights made from discarded plastic bottles at the Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival.
Residents and tourists who have not yet seen the inaugural Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival are encouraged to visit Expo City Dubai this weekend.
Not only will they be amazed by the impressive light art installations, but they will also be able to learn and participate in a simple, environmentally friendly solution that could literally light up an entire community.
Philippine-based civic organization Liter of Light is demonstrating how discarded one-liter plastic bottles can be turned into low-cost tubes that can illuminate the floating villages of the Manobo tribe in Agusan Marsh in the Philippines.
Several families and individuals have already collaborated to create hand-built lights that could last five years. Liter of Light was founded in 2014 and, for a decade, has provided lighting to around one million homes in various underserved communities in 32 countries, including Latin America, Africa and Asia.
“The Philippine ‘Liter of Light’ movement wants to be a bright spot in the fight against global energy poverty,” founder Illac Diaz told Khaleej Times.
“We use recycled plastic bottles and locally sourced materials to illuminate homes, and our lights spark hope and create new, happy memories. It is a profound experience to empower people to build something that can help other people in need.
“Liter of Light is one of the strategic partners of the Dhai Dubai Light Festival. “We would like to invite everyone to experience the magic of light through solar lighting workshops with Litro de Luz,” he added.
Spark of a movement
The civic organization initially began as a disaster response initiative before becoming a movement. Now, Litro de Luz also offers livelihood opportunities. Solar reading lights, street lights and mobile charging systems made from recycled plastic bottles, ceramics and bamboo have helped communities learn green skills and engage in green jobs.
Díaz said they had worked with 600 women’s cooperatives and thousands of volunteers to assemble solar lights using readily available and repairable materials.
With its grassroots movement, Liter of Light was awarded the 2016 St. Andrews Environment Prize, the 2014-2015 World Habitat Prize and the $1.5 million Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015.
Yousuf Caires, CEO of the Expo Live Innovation Program at Expo City Dubai, added: “Liter of Light was the first organization to win an Expo Live Innovation Grant during our seed round in 2016. We were clear that this global movement would make an impact. significant not only through its solar lighting programs, but also its commitment to advocating for change and raising awareness about the challenges arising from climate change.
Residents can learn about the Liter of Light movement by visiting the Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival.
“Your commitment program is a great opportunity for us all to be part of the solution and make it possible to bring light to someone’s life,” he stressed.
Díaz said that directly involving people is a tangible solution to climate change. “By engaging people, especially young people, we hope to inspire them to reduce their carbon footprint while tangibly contributing to reducing energy poverty in the places where we operate across the region,” he explained.
The founder of Litro de Luz has a simple calculation. “Each of the hand-built lights lasts five years, reducing carbon emissions by 1,000kg by replacing traditional forms of lighting, especially kerosene, with clean energy,” he said.
“At a time when climate anxiety, especially among young people, is at an all-time high, we believe it is essential to work together, take action, change the narrative and inspire action,” Díaz said.
Dhai Dubai will be open until Sunday and will showcase selected works by seven Emirati artists taking visitors on a visual and artistic journey of light.