Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Changing Lives, One Light at a Time

The children of Rizal, Philippines, gather around their solar lantern. Photo credit: One Million Lights website

Did you know that over 1.6 billion people around the world depend on burning kerosene to light their homes at night? This is responsible for 1.5 million deaths from burns and respiratory illnesses each YEAR, 62% of which are children. If you know this, you are most likely not one of those 1.6 billion people. This highly toxic and flammable substance is the only source of lighting for many areas around the world, and a very expensive one at that, contributing to the extreme poverty that these areas are facing. Well, what if YOU could help offer an alternative to put an end to this vicious cycle?

One Million Lights is a non-profit with a mission of improving lives all over the world by providing emissions-free and efficient lighting to homes. Their goal is to distribute one million solar lights to replace the burning of kerosene, and their partnerships, ambassadors, and international distribution programs are helping to make this goal happen. Not only are these lights sustainable, but they give those who are less fortunate the ability to utilize the sun even after it goes down. Lighting can allow children to continue their studies throughout the evening, and parents to continue their household chores and even relax after a long day of work. They offer a healthy and safe living environment, improving the all-around household experience. These lights utilize the sun's gift to brighten peoples' futures all over the world!

One Million Lights has had a tremendous amount of support in helping reach their goal! They have teamed up with World of Color's public charity, whose mission is very similar to their own. In addition, Energizer became a partner and started sponsoring night races around the world to raise awareness of the importance of safe and healthy lighting. Through the money raised at the races, Energizer pledged to donate 11 million hours of solar light to communities without electricity! EBay has also shown support through their donation of 15,000 solar lights to school children in India and Africa. College students around the world are even showing support by volunteering as ambassadors! They are working towards raising enough solar lights to deliver them to a selected location with the help of international distributors. Through the help of partnerships, ambassadors, and international distribution programs, One Million Lights has been able to brighten peoples’ futures all around the world, and has gotten many steps closer towards reaching their goal!

Brighten someone's night by giving the gift of light this holiday season!  Click here to buy or donate a solar light! Everyone deserves an opportunity for a bright future. 

Restituta Glino, a light recipient in Borongan Village, checks on his dinner. Photo credit: One Million Lights website

Distribution to Kenya, April 2012. Photo credit: Michael Goode

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tips for a Sustainable Holiday: Take 2 – Winter Holidays

The holiday season never stops! Just as we finish the stress of planning and cooking a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, the festivities of the month of December sneak up on us. To ensure you have a sustainable winter holiday season, try to incorporate these tips into your planning and spending:

  • Save wrapping paper (especially foil backed and tissue) and ribbons - these items are not recyclable - to wrap future gifts.
  • Use fronts of old cards to create postcards or gift tags.
  • If you get a cut tree, be sure to recycle it
  • Reuse the packing peanuts to mail your next package, or if you don’t want them laying around take them to your nearby UPS store!
  • Keep burned out holiday lights out of the landfill; they are recyclable at Lowe's
If every American family wrapped three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields! So why not skip out on buying new wrapping paper and use anything you can find, saves money and trees or try and give presents in reusable bags. This will allow for your gift receiver to continue using this bag during their grocery trips further reducing the amount of plastic bags used.

Gift Giving: Splurging during the holiday season has become a custom—the more gifts the better. Try having a Secret Santa, where each person’s name gets put into a hat and everyone draws a person for whom they buy a present for. This decreases the amount of gifts bought and lets you make each gift more personal. When you buy presents, support your local merchants which will help you reduce your carbon footprint and pump dollars into the local economy.

Cooking and entertaining:
  • Send email invites instead of paper invitations.
  • When planning a menu, choose local foods that are in season.  
Finally, don’t feel like a Charlie Brown Christmas is a bad one! Go for a smaller tree and (if you’re like my family) reuse those decorations each year. There’s no need to constantly buy new lights, ornaments, and tree skirts, right?

But most importantly, keep in mind that the holidays are not about the gifts, the errands, the trimmings; they're about celebrating with your family and friends.