It may sound strange to the ears, but canned fresh air is taking off in a big way in China and many businesses are now booming because of it.
It wasn’t that long ago when people laughed at the idea of buying bottled water.
Now it’s the air we breathe for free that is being sold and the laughter is quickly fading to the surprise of many. What started out almost as a joke, has now taken China by storm in a way that few people could ever have predicted.
The answer of course is pollution. But not the type of pollution that Americans or Europeans are used to, but a smog of grey air that clings to the environment like a constant mist.
Described as an environmental crisis by the World Health Organisation, Beijing frequently receives red alerts for smog in which factories, schools and construction sites are closed and car limit policies are enforced.
Wearing a mask over your mouth is common place in a city of rising health concerns.
China’s air quality fluctuates dramatically from day to day and smog can come at any time. Whilst the pollution levels in China are measured frequently, it does not detract from the fact that pollution can severely harm the human body, often leading to heart and lung disease.
Pollution is measured PM2.5, or particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter and doctors state that a level of around PM2.5 level of 20 is healthy and over 300 is a serious health issue.
In Beijing the PM2.5 level frequently rise past 500 with the record being over 750! Walkers in the city often complain of sore throats and dizziness after a short time.
In such conditions, this new boom of importing fresh air makes a whole lot more sense and there are now more and more people getting into the canned fresh air business. When one considers that the only outward costs are the cans themselves and the distribution, it doesn’t take a genius to realise the potential for profits.
One of the biggest names in the fresh air business is Vitality Air which sold there first bag of air on eBay for $0.99 before selling a second for $168! The founder Harrison Wang quickly saw the potential for this new business and began exporting bottled oxygen from the Rocky Mountains shortly afterwards. Wang told the Mail Online that Vitality Air sold out almost instantly after marketing their product on China’s e-commerce website Taobao.
Several years ago, Chen Guangbiao, a multi-millionaire from china also sold over 10 million soda pop-sized cans of air, supposedly from far-flung regions of Asia such as Taiwan and Xinjiang in the northwest. Mr Guangbiao stated that he sold the 10 million cans in just over 10 days as the smog levels reached record highs.
Whilst the whole idea of paying for air almost sounds comical, the living conditions in Beijing are clearly not what others are used to.
In extreme conditions, it’s often extreme solutions that are presented.
Obviously no one can predict where this new boom in canned fresh air will go, but it certainly shows no sign of slowing down as pollution continues to grow in the swelling capital. A breath of fresh air may just be what the doctor orders in times to come.