One of the more interesting green design stories I heard while attending the Greener Gadgets Conference last week was from the founder of SunNight Solar, Mark Bent. His company makes the SunLight solar-powered flashlight, which they market in the U.S. as an emergency light, but in Africa, it serves a much greater purpose.
Bent sat on a panel called "Green Design for Good" and that really sums up what his flashlight is all about. While you and I probably take for granted the amount of things we accomplish once the sun goes down, aided by electric light, the parts of Africa where Bent distributes his flashlights still rely on kerosene lanterns, but the kerosene is expensive and not always available. His flashlight allows farmers to work and children to read or study after sunset, which they couldn't do before. The light also offers protection to women in refugee camps where sexual violence often happens after dark when the women can't identify their attackers.
Bent designed the flashlight to resemble the lanterns the users were accustomed to with three settings - the brightest able to illuminate an entire room. One side is covered in solar cells and the power is stored in batteries. The lights are LEDs so that they last as long as possible without needing replacement. The entire light is constructed to be tough and tested by scientists to withstand harsh conditions so that when they're left with a group of people in an isolated area, no one worries about them breaking anytime soon.
So while to us, a solar-powered flashlight seems like a great eco-friendly option for when the power goes out or we get a flat tire, Bent's target demographic in Africa see it as a way to a better life everyday. It's refreshing to hear every once in a while that designing things in a sustainable way can have just as great of a human benefit as an environmental one.
written by Solar Power, March 06, 2009
written by gmoke, March 06, 2009
written by wind up, March 07, 2009
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