Innovations for a better world

1. Drinkable Book

Article by Kristina Barvo. She is a Los Angeles–based writer and a fellow at TakePart.

In the age of e-readers, print books have a certain old-time charm, but there’s more to this tome than meets the eye. The souped-up hardback holds the latest in a lifesaving technology that could help millions of people around the world—and you don’t have to press a single button.

WaterisLife teamed up with scientists and engineers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia to produce the Drinkable Book, a tome that has a water filter for pages. The card stock, which is coated with silver nanoparticles, works like a “scientific coffee filter.” It reduces bacteria by 99.9 percent, a level comparable to tap water in the United States. This new application can be of especial aid in developing countries, where more than 3 million people die every year from waterborne diseases such as cholera, E. coli, and typhoid.


But a book wouldn’t be a book if it didn’t impart some wisdom. According to WaterisLife, teaching proper hygiene is just as critical as distributing clean water. So each page not only filters enough water for 30 days but also relays information about safe drinking practices through text printed with food-grade ink.


The first run, printed in English and Swahili, will make its way to Kenya. WaterisLife plans to expand distribution to 33 countries and to work out production so that each page will cost pennies to make. Sustainable and toxin-free, an entire book can produce four years’ worth of safe drinking water.


2. Creating light using Plastic Bottle

Article by Liz Klimas from The Blaze

Alfred Moser, a Brazilian mechanic, had a simple idea in 2002 that helped light his home during blackouts. Now this idea is being spread to poor communities without electricity — or those who can’t afford electricity — to provide light like that of up to a 60-watt bulb using only a plastic bottle, water and the power of the sun.

BBC reported that Moser’s idea is expected to help light one million homes by next year. When he thinks of how many people his idea is benefiting, BBC described him as “shaking with emotion.”

“I’d have never imagined it, no,” Moser said. ”It gives you goose-bumps to think about it.”

Moser came up with the idea to drill a hole in his roof and stick a clear bottle filled with water and a little bleach (to keep algae at bay) when there were widespread power outages in Uberaba a decade ago.

The bottle sticking out of the roof — the hole sealed to prevent any leaks in wet weather — refracts the light downward into a dwelling, improving the inhabitants’ the ability to see as they to perform tasks during the day.

“It’s a divine light. God gave the sun to everyone, and light is for everyone,” Moser told BBC. “Whoever wants it saves money. You can’t get an electric shock from it, and it doesn’t cost a penny.”

BBC explained that in some countries, it’s not a lack of available electricity that’s the problem, it’s the cost. Moser’s lighting system helped a family in his community save enough to pay for essential items for their soon-to-be-born child.

“Can you imagine?” he said to BBC of the impact.

In the Philippines, the MyShelter Foundation received plastic bottle donations, which they started using to build walls and windows. Then BBC reported the foundation’s Executive Director Angelo Diaz recalling someone saying, “‘Hey, somebody has also done that in Brazil. Alfredo Moser is putting them on roofs.’”

The idea has spread throughout Manila and in about 15 other countries, according to BBC:

“Alfredo Moser has changed the lives of a tremendous number of people, I think forever,” [Diaz] says.

“Whether or not he gets the Nobel Prize, we want him to know that there are a great number of people who admire what he is doing.”

Diaz included that some people have been using the lights even to help them grow food from hydroponic plants.

BBC reported that people in some communities are being trained to make the lights as a profession.

Through the MyShelter Foundation, the plastic bottle light has taken on the formal name of “A Liter of Light.”