In an effort to help chip away at the large number of people on Earth without access to electricity for even basic needs, such as lighting, Panasonic is going to donate 100,000 solar lanterns in honor of their company's 100th anniversary.
When you have access to cheap and abundant electricity, like so many of us do, it's easy to forget that there are an estimated 1.3 billion people in our world who live without it every single day. For us, lighting up a room is as simple as flipping a switch, but for many of those people without electricity, a kerosene lantern is the only way they have to provide light for themselves after dark. And those kerosene lanterns have a number of drawbacks, including the risk of fire, the release of toxic fumes while burning, and the fact that they just aren't very bright or efficient.
A great solution for truly sustainable (and non-toxic) lighting in off-grid areas is solar-powered lights or lanterns, but if you're living at subsistence level, they aren't exactly cheap. A number of solar gadget initiatives have been launched that have buy-one-give-one models, enabling us to purchase a solar light for ourselves, while also funding one free light to be donated in needy areas. However, those projects still require that we purchase one or donate to them in order to get the lights distributed.
But the latest initiative from Panasonic is one that I think other big companies (especially tech and gadget companies) could really make an impact with, because they're straight-up donating 100,000 solar lanterns to people in regions without electricity.
"Panasonic Corporation has launched a 100 THOUSAND SOLAR LANTERN PROJECT. The aim of the project is to donate a total of 100,000 solar LED lanterns to people in regions of the world without electricity, by 2018, the 100th anniversary of the company's founding.
As the first stage in this effort, Panasonic is donating 8,000 compact solar lights to NPOs and NGOs helping to solve social problems in Myanmar(3,000 units), India(5,000 units) along with 2,000 lights to a refugee camp in Africa in FY2012" - Panasonic
While 100,000 lights doesn't sound like that many when compared to the 1.3 billion people in need, if this effort was compounded by other companies jumping on board with their own solar light or power system donations at this level, it could make a huge difference in the lives of the recipients.