Tuesday, May 22, 2007
About a third of the world's population -- roughly 2 billion people -- go without adequate affordable light. That's right: Light. When the sun goes down, they're in the dark or dependent upon smoky kerosene lamps, wood or charcoal fires or perhaps intermittent power from noisy diesel generators. Enter Mark Bent, ex-Marine and former State Department diplomat. Bent started BoGo Light, which sells solar flashlights that use highly efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes) to provide as much as five hours of illumination on a 10-hour charge. BoGo means Buy One Give One. While the lights generally retail at $20, for $25 plus shipping you can get one for yourself and have one donated. Recipients include groups as diverse as the UN Refugee Agency and the troops in Iraq. You get to choose. While the program may seem more humanitarian than environmental in nature, in reality it's both; the eco-upside is significant, as the lights have the potential to reduce carbon emissions, contamination from discarded batteries and deforestation. It's one of those simple, potentially world-changing ideas.