Thirty years ago the idea of getting your drinking water out of a bottle instead of the faucet in your home seemed preposterous.
Today, bottled water is a $13 billion industry. It is the second largest commercial beverage category by volume in the United States, second only to carbonated soft drinks, with an average consumption of 34 gallons per person. Back in 1976, every American drank 1.6 gallons of bottled water.
If you would like to read a fascinating account of why there has been such an increase in sales of bottled water, check out this interview with Elizabeth Royte, author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.
A lot of it has to do with the 1989 introduction of PET plastic (polyethylene terephthalate). PET was clear, lightweight, and cheap, which made it easy to put a lot of water into bottles. After the advent of PET plastic, Coke and Pepsi got into the business in the ’90s, and the rest is history.
So it really should come as no surprise that a new product is being marketed that has many of the same characteristics that water once did.
Two entrepreneurs from Sydney, Australia, John Dickinson and Theo Ruygrok, are betting that people are willing to pay for a product that you can get for free, everywhere you go.
They have devised a way to bottle the air we breathe freely and are selling cans of pure Yarra Valley atmosphere for $18.80 each (about $14.00 U.S. dollars). Each container holds in excess of 130 deep breaths of clean pure air.
From the company’s (Green & Clean) web site:
Sadly due to pollution many people do not have access to clean air and their health can suffer as a result. While people can do much to improve their health such as exercise more, improve their diet and take supplements, if they live in an area with poor air quality they are continually exposed to potentially harmful toxins which can have a disastrous effect on their health and wellbeing. We all know that great feeling of taking in a deep breath of clean air from a beautiful beach or pristine forest, you feel alive and invigorated. We believe we’ve captured this feeling for our clients to enjoy anywhere at any time.
So much like bottled water created a market for its product by making claims that it was healthier than what comes out of your tap, it seems as if Green & Clean is taking the same approach.
And this isn’t the first time canned air has been sold in China. Last year, a Canadian company selling air from the Rockies reportedly was selling out in smog-heavy Chinese cities.
It all seems crazy to me, but I don’t live in a heavily polluted city, and my tap water is just fine.
I’m wondering if this will catch on.
Will experts (hired by the bottled air companies) report on research studies that indicate people need 100 breaths of pure air each day, similar to the claims about people needing eight cups of water per day?
One of the stories mentioned above shared this great clip from Mel Brooks’ 1987 Star Wars parody Spaceballs, which now seems eerily ahead of its time.
Who knows, in 30 years this clip may not seem funny any more, much like this classic clip (in my mind at least) from Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run.
It was my favorite line from the movie, since the idea of someone having a computer in their home back in 1969 seemed preposterous.
Today, the iPad 2, which went on the market in 2011 for $400 and fits in your lap, had more computing power than the world’s most powerful supercomputer in the 1980s, a device called the Cray 2 that was about the size of an industrial washing machine and would cost more than $15 million today.
All this goes to show you never know what the future may hold. But there’s money to be made if you make the right bet and get in on the ground floor of these changes in consumer buying habits.
Our middle son lives in Hilo, Hawaii, which is less than an hour away from the easternmost point of the Big Island, which scientists insist has the world’s freshest air. If he and his friends can figure out a way to bottle that stuff, maybe he’ll make enough money to provide his parents with a lifetime supply of Big Air.
Yes, I’ve already given a name to the product; it would give new meaning to the word vaporware.