A brother and sister in the Philippines invented a lamp that runs entirely on metal and saltwater.
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How do you light your home when you don't have electricity and you can't afford gas?

You use this.


Photo by SALt/Facebook.

It's an ordinary handheld lamp, with one big difference: It requires no fuel.

Instead it's powered by a few strips of metal. And saltwater.

The lamp was designed by brother-sister team Raphael and Aisa Mijeno.

Aisa and Raphael Mijeno with the oversized check they received for winning the IdeaSpace Philippines start-up competition. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

The Mijenos live in the Philippines, where many rural communities don't have access to electricity.

When Aisa embedded with one such community while working for Greenpeace, she realized there was a major problem that needed solving:

Living without electricity forces residents to use kerosene-powered lanterns as their primary light source. But acquiring kerosene can be a huge challenge if you don't have access to transportation, as many in those communities don't.

"What the people do is, they walk for 12 hours just to buy a bottle of kerosene," Raphael told Upworthy. "And that's good for two days."

Saltwater, however, is as cheap and plentiful.

"In the Philippines, even in [low-income households], you will surely find three things: water, rice, and salt," said Raphael.

The lamp can run for eight hours at a time on one glass of water and two teaspoons of salt.

Two different types of metal are submerged in the saltwater. This throws off excess electrons, which then travel from one metal to the other via a wire, producing electricity that powers the LEDs.

According to Raphael and Aisa's company Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt), unlike kerosene lanterns, the saltwater lamps are not a fire hazard and can safely be set up inside the home.

The lanterns are also versatile. People living in inland villages can use homemade saline solution to power the lamps. Those in coastal communities can simply use ocean water.

The electrode rods in the lamps have to be replaced roughly twice a year, but the Mijenos expect that to prove more convenient and cost-effective for families in rural areas than buying gas for a traditional fuel lamp.

Raphael says the lamps are generating lots of interest around Southeast Asia and India.

SALt has big goals. Aisa and Raphael hope to eventually build a saltwater-powered generator that can power a whole house.

After that, perhaps a saltwater power plant.

Not a saltwater power plant. Photo by Wknight94/Wikimedia Commons.

But for now, they're getting ready to (hopefully) put the lamps into mass production.

According to Raphael, they're already getting major support from start-up incubators across East Asia as well as grants from organizations like USAID.

"We're looking to get the final prototype out before the year ends," Raphael said.

If they do, thousands in the Philippines, and potentially around the world, could benefit tremendously.

Aisa Mijeno with residents of un-electrified Barangay Gabi and a prototype lamp. Photo by SALt/Facebook.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.