Conscious Consumerism and the Origami Inspired Solar-Powered Solight Lanterns

Solight Providing light to children after a disaster

The chaotic times we live in continually push us to use our purchasing power for good and seek out new ways of doing things.

From its inception, Solight has been focused on bringing light to the world in a clean and sustainable way. Alice Min Soo Chun, an inventor, entrepreneur and former professor of Architecture and Material Technology at Columbia University, saw the power of light — and the potential to harness and provide it to others in a conscious way.

solight Tent Strung UpShe studied architecture at Penn State where she obtained her undergraduate and went on to earn her Masters in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. With emerging trends in material technology resulting in smarter, lighter, faster, sustainable fabrication, Alice started to sew solar panels to fabric as early experiments for harnessing solar energy with softer, malleable material. She became focused on solar technology and finding ways to create clean energy solutions. But the journey to developing Solight interestingly began in New York City, after her son was diagnosed with Asthma. As they visited many doctor’s offices around the city, she discovered that one-in-four New York City children has Asthma. The tragedy that is the toxic effect of the NYC air-quality struck her in a new way.

She became dedicated to making more eco-friendly and sustainable choices, not just for her child, but for children everywhere — from the Bahamas, to Nepal, Cambodia, Cameroon, Dominica, Ecuador, The Florida Keys, Ghana, Miami, Greece, Haiti, Mozambique, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Venezuela and more.

She created early prototypes of solar lights with a grant from the Brunner Foundation. Still not satisfied but fueled by her passion for helping the underserved, Alice invented the world’s only self-inflatable, portable solar light, eliminating the need for a mouth nozzle. This ensured a healthy, sanitary method to inflate. Alice named this invention the SolarPuff and conducted three years of field testing in Haiti. In 2015 she launched Solight Design and initiated a Kickstarter program with unprecedented results. She went on to win numerous awards including the US Patent Award for Humanity and her products have been exhibited at MOMA, the Modern Museum of Art in New York City. Alice was also recently featured as one of Hillary Rodham and Chelsea Clinton’s “Gutsy Women” in their recent book The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.

Still reeling from her discovery that masses of people are affected by poor air quality, and on a mission to find sustainable solutions, another issue caught Alice’s attention. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake rocked an entire country, and left millions of people struggling for their most basic needs. Alice was moved by the catastrophe being faced by the Haitian people. As she dove into ways to help, she discovered how vital light and electricity are to the safety of so many.

According to the World Health Organization, there is a direct connection between loss of light after a natural disaster — and a rise in assault on women and children. Shockingly, just having light in refugee tent camps creates a 20 percent decrease in assault cases. It was this realization that inspired Min Soo Chun to focus on a sustainable product that provides light to those who truly need it. The WHO also reports roughly 3.8 million people a year die from toxic kerosene fumes; and 100,000 preventable dwelling fires in South Africa.

Throughout her upbringing in Seoul, South Korea, and in Upstate New York, her mother taught her Origami and how to sew. It was from her understanding of how a simple fold can create structure, her creative eye for architectural design, and experimentation with sewing solar panels onto fabric, that the SolarPuff was born. The SolarPuff was then field tested for three years in Haiti, followed by the 2015 launch of Solight Design.

Solight Design lanterns are self inflating, solar powered, light weight, waterproof, non-toxic, recyclable, durable, and charitable.

solight house lanternEffective in your home, backyard, on camping and backpacking trips, and emergencies, and every purchase contributes to giving light to the 1.6 billion people who live without electricity.

Solight now offers the Twilight Solar Lantern, Helix Solar Lantern, QWNN Solar Lantern and Mobile Charger, and the original SolarPuff LS Solar Lantern.

In addition to the 10 percent of all profit going to someone in need of light, the Solight Design website prominently offers a Give A Light option, where customers can purchase lights that go directly to Solight’s NGO partners who distribute them to the population currently most in need.

solight child reads by solar powered lanternAlice has received a number of awards and much recognition for the humanitarian efforts behind Solight, and today Min Soo Chun and Solight Design are at the forefront of creating highly functional products that truly improve the world we live in and the lives of many.

Conscious consumerism begins with companies like this: making choices at every turn that protect the planet and the people who inhabit it.