|May 04, 2016|
Entrepreneurs are selling Australia's fresh air in a can to China
|In what may be the most ingenious money-making idea since bottled water, two entrepreneurs have set up a business selling fresh Australian air to China. |
John Dickinson and Theo Ruygrok are the co-founders of Green and Clean Air, a business based in Australia that puts air in cans and sells it to people struggling with pollution in Asia.
They came up with the idea one year ago, after Ruygrok looked at the sky and mused about the difference in air quality when he arrived home from China to Australia. "Wouldn't it be great if we can take a bit of this air over to China?" he asked Dickinson.
Soon after they began working to their goal of collecting air from iconic Australian locations. Today, the company collects air from multiple beautiful sites including the Blue Mountains, Bondi Beach, Tasmania and the Gold Coast. You can also get a can of pure New Zealand air. A can costs just less than A$20 a pop.
Speaking to Mashable Australia, Dickinson said he wanted to share his piece of paradise --- Australia --- with those not as lucky. "We live here, and we love it. You don't have to travel too far in the world to realise we live in paradise here," he said.
"What we are really trying to accomplish is: you know when you go to a pristine location early in the morning and you take that deep, first breath of air and you get that really alive and invigorating feeling? That is what we think we have captured and that is the excitement of it."
The duo suck the air into disposable cans using what they call "mobile air-farming" technology, with each can holding 130 to 140 deep breaths. You simply use the attached plastic face mask to breathe in the fresh air through your nose and mouth.
"We can take those units anywhere we want and pump air from any location," Dickinson explained. "It isn't just a $300 compressor from [hardware store] Bunnings, it is actually a specially-built machine. The challenge is that we want to pull actual ambient air from where we are and capture it the same as it actually is, the same air we are breathing where we are at that time."
He said the process to do this is much harder than first appears. "It sounds easy --- get fresh air into a can --- but it isn't actually that easy at all. We had mechanical engineer working with us for several months to actually crack the code of how to physically do it," Dickinson said.
The style of the air varies from location to location, apparently, with the beach air tasting of sea breeze and the mountain air being influenced by Eucalyptus trees. It is targeted at either people who live in polluted areas or tourists taking a piece of Australia home with them.
"Some people say they can actually detect Eucalyptus when they breathe it, others not, it just depends your sense of taste and smell is," Dickinson said, "but there is no doubt each location has its own set of characteristics which is really cool. Eucalyptus absolutely has health qualities so it is being able to capture that and contain it, that's great."
It is no surprise that China, with terrible pollution levels in some cities like Beijing, is the target for this strange product. Late last year, Beijing's pollution alert level was raised to orange, the highest level in history. Residents of the city were literally choking on the hazardous, grey smog.
Dickinson said due to this the product is targeted at the emerging middle class in China, as these customers are very interested in any products which may improve their health and wellbeing.
"They are all becoming very health conscious, they are all exercising, they are all taking supplements, but the reality is: they can't change the air they breathe," Dickinson explained. "That is really one of the reasons we were interested in that market because of that real awareness of health and wellbeing, and it is fair to say that whatever products that they can get their hands on that they associate with health and wellbeing they are quite receptive to."
A Chinese personal shopper Vivian Zhou told Seven News her clients were fans of the product. Dickinson said there was a huge movement towards shoppers like Zhou sending the products back to China and the company had tapped into this market.
"The air pollution is very heavy now in China so we all love the pure air from Australia," Zhou said. "I buy the air from Australia for my clients and I post it back to them."
The phenomenon isn't unique to Australia, creative entrepreneurs in the mountain regions of China recently started selling plastic bags of air to city dwellers. In Canada, some other geniuses also hit on the gold mine. Vitality Air started selling canned air from Banff in Alberta and Lake Louise in Banff National Park to China in 2015, with its first shipment selling out.
With pollution levels in many cities well above the World Health Organization's standard level for healthy air, it makes sense that people would pay top dollar for just a breath of fresh air. "There is no shortage of possible destinations for this product," Dickinson added.