A Canadian start-up company has started selling bottles of air to Chinese following the latest smog alert in Beijing.
Vitality Air bottles the air in the Rocky Mountains and then ships the bottles from Alberta to China.
The two entrepreneurs behind the company have actually been selling the bottled air in China for over a year, but sales have increased dramatically after officials issued a red alert that lasted three days starting on December 7.
On their website, Moses Lam and Troy Paquette say that Vitality provides their customers “with the best and the freshest necessity of life–fresh clean air & oxygen.”
They say bottles air is “the next bottled water.”
Harrison Wang, Vitality Air’s China representative, told the Daily Mail that almost immediately after putting the product on Tabao, a website similar to eBay, it sold out, although Lam told the Telegraph that the first 500 bottles sold out in four days.
Another shipment of 4,000 more bottles is currently on its way to China, but most of that shipment has also been bought.
“We have sold everything, and we now have a bunch of customers and a people wanting to be our distributors,” Wang said.
“We know the demand is big so we are being reactive instead of proactive, and doing our best to accommodate for the market needs and demands.”
Lam and Paquette started out by putting air into sealed mountain bags and selling them on eBay for $0.99 each. Now the air is put into bottles and sold for up to $46, depending on the size.
“In China fresh air is a luxury, something so precious,” Wang said.
The biggest problem now is the effort needed to produce the bottles, since each one is filled by hand. In the Rocky Mountains, Vitality workers fill cans “through clean compression, locking in the pure air without any contamination,” according to the website.
“It’s very labor intensive but we also wanted to make it a very unique and fun product,” Lam said. “We may have bit off more than we can chew.”
Not everyone is sold on the idea though.
Wallace Leung, a professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, told CNN that buying bottles of air was not a practical solution to China’s air pollution.
“We need to filter out the particles, the invisible killers, from the air,” said Leung, who conducts research on the effectiveness of face masks. “One bottle of air wouldn’t help. I would be very cautious.”