As Japan is facing rolling blackouts, I cannot help but reflect on my use of electricity. Just sitting here, I have my computer plugged in, my lights on, and my cell phone charging. As I am hooked on electricity, one in four people in the world are without electricity.
It is a disparity that I find alarming.
If living in the dark wasn’t enough of a challenge, two million people die annually from smoke inhalation from costly, carbon-monoxide emitting, kerosene lamps. And the real stinger, the majority of these deaths are under the age of 14, according to the World Health Organization.
These facts were like a blinding light, waking me up. People dying because of their lighting option did not sit well. Especially since a safe, renewable solution, which is becoming more cost competitive, exists – solar lanterns.
A Bright Alternative
You see, I am one of those people who is completely sun struck and overcome with the belief that we should be harnessing the power of the sun and using it as one of our primary energy sources. Upon moving to San Francisco, joining SPG Solar, dreaming daily of solar power and commuting across the Golden Gate Bridge, a whimsical idea for my 30th birthday took root – parade across the Golden Gate at night with solar charged lanterns.
The idea evolved and gained traction after learning about the 2 billion people globally who are off-grid with no access to power and coming across D.Light, a company designing and manufacturing solar powered LED lanterns.
Solar lanterns have revolutionary potential with triple benefits – improve health, education and wealth. By replacing kerosene lamps with solar lanterns, respiratory illnesses will decline and 150 million tons of carbon will be removed from our air annually. Additionally, with safe, reliable light children can study after dark, improving their test scores and reaching higher education. Finally, the solar lanterns allow work at night – from extending store hours to repairing items – improving an average poor family’s income by over 30 percent, according the United Nations Development Programme.
My dreamy 30th birthday idea took hold and the mission to raise awareness, make an impact and celebrate the power of solar light materialized.
The World’s First Solar Lantern Parade – April 9th, 2011
On the morning of Saturday, April 9th, 100 D.Light Kiran solar lanterns will be lined up at Crissy Field, in San Francisco, pulling in a full charge. Once the California sunshine has been bottled, and the sun sets, the community will gather and release the rays at night and parade across the Golden Gate Bridge. Together, we will Light the Night.
We will then pass it forward. Each participant will donate at least one solar lantern to residents in East Timor – a country that has been levelized by war and is without electricity. We will be beaming them bright, safe, reliable, light, a luxury that we get to enjoy daily.
What if we could Light the Night? What if we could help bring power to rural locations? What if we could flip the switch to a safe, renewable option?
We can. Join the World’s First Solar Lantern parade April 9th in San Francisco. Visit www.sunstruck.org to sign-up. Together, let’s become SunStruck and Shine On.
Article by Marissa Muller, founder SunStruck.org