China’s air pollution is so bad that many of its wealthier citizens have turned what was once a gag gift into serious business for the Canadian startup behind it.
The one-year-old Vitality Air company only began selling their bottled air in China less than two months ago but has already seen its first shipment of 500 bottles sell out in four days, founder Moses Lam told the Telegraph in an interview.
According to Lam, another 4,000 bottles are en route to China but most of that shipment has already been purchased.
Lam’s Edmonton-based company sells aluminum cans containing either 3 or 7.7-liters’ worth of hand-collected, fresh Canadian air. The company’s 7.7-liter can containing air taken from Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains sells for 100 yuan ($15.45), which is more than the cost of 50 bottles of mineral water combined in China, according to the Telegraph.
Lam isn’t the first to sell air in China. In 2013, multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao famously sold cans of fresh air for 5 yuan (75 cents) apiece.
Although Vitality Air is selling briskly nowadays, Lam admits it first began as a joke. He and co-founder Troy Paquette first sold air when they sold a plastic bag full of it on Ebay for less than 75 cents. Their second bag of air on the site, however, sold for a whopping $160.
“That’s when we realized there is a market for this,” Lam said.
While the company sells its cans in several countries, most of Vitality Air’s customers are wealthy women from heavily polluted northeastern and southern China.
“In China fresh air is a luxury, something so precious,” Harrison Wang, the company’s China representative, said.
Lam believes the concept of bottled air, which raises many people’s eyebrows, will take off the way bottled water, once also mocked, did. Even though his company is doing well, however, he continues to work his bank job.
“My parents told me not to quit my daytime job,” he said.