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There have been an uplifting number of eco-friendly designs as of late—neatly focused projects with an intent to convenience our daily grind (both enjoyable and non). These concepts consciously and empathetically impact other people and the world at large. Most of these designers look towards one of our oldest sources of energy for their blueprint—The sun.

In the past decade the seemingly endless flow of ideas that come from harnessing the suns limitless energy continues to be a strong driving force towards creating a better, more sustainable future. We’ve made such vast improvements from the reduction of electronic waste, and recycling, to the reduction of burnt fossil fuels. We’ve funded roads powered by solar blocks, cities running on both solar and wind energy, and more. Just how much of an impact can these concepts have? What is the value in clean energy? For starters, bringing light to thousands in need.

Coming from city life, it’s hard not to take something as common as a night light for granted, and yet there are 1.6 billion people without electricity or clean light energy. Alice Min Soo Chun, a designer and professor at the Parsons New School for Design, and Stacey Kelly’s project; the SolarPuff started as a relief that would bring light to Haiti in the rise of the earthquake in 2010, nobly living up to their adequate moto; “Design + Functionality for Humanity.”  After graciously distributing light after the wake of said disaster, the duo have gone on to provide clean, sustainable light around the world as a replacement for kerosene lamps, which contribute to global warming, and contribute to unhealthy living conditions.

Notably the SolarPuff is an attractive alternative to indoor lamps, and is an amazing tool for camping, and backpacking. Its potential in home décor also lies in its aesthetically pleasing presentation.

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Small-scale solar panels promise many applications for renewable energy, and the SolarPuff (now with its cheaper alternative the Solar Helix made of another recyclable material) is a particularly elegant example. Inspired by origami, the solar-powered lantern folds flat and weighs just 2.3 ounces. It pops open easily to disperse the light from its ring of LEDs. It’s also waterproof. “My son uses it in the bathtub,” said Chun. It floats quite easily where other lanterns will sink.

The duo launched their project in April of 2015, and since have had received large scale media attention from CNN, the Huffington Post, and have even taken their invention to the U.N. This is the modern process, these kinds of projects seek funding and it goes to show that the modern consumer’s dollar is neither helpless nor small when it comes to making an impact. The difference comes simply by choosing how we spend it. Why not get the self-gratification of a product that has the added bonus of helping make a change?

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Their company continues to make an impact by donating 10% of their companies online sales throughout the world via NGO partners, organizations that deliver light to people in need.

 

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