Cringe-Worthy: Bottled Air For Sale (Joke or For Real?)

Bottled air? A few years ago, I noticed someone selling bags of air on Ebay. It had to be a joke, right? Or, it must be a novelty item, like “canned sunshine” from the state of Florida.

After all, who in their right mind would pay any amount of cash for such a widely available, completely free, and virtually unlimited commodity?

After all, who in their right mind would pay any amount of cash for such a widely available, completely free, and virtually unlimited commodity?

An Eye-Opening Revelation

As it turns out, what started as a joke has become a thriving business. Seems there are many people living in areas of extreme pollution who will gladly shell out good money for a little bit of fresh air.

Air Pollution in Beijing

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley, Flickr

It’s easy to take something so fundamental to life for granted. But we should appreciate and value the most basic of things like fresh air and clean water. Why? Because many people in the world are not so fortunate.

An Ever-Growing Problem

Pollution is an enormous worldwide problem. In parts of countries like China and India, air pollution is said to be 40-50 worse than it is in the most polluted cities in America.

Air pollution is likely China’s biggest threat to public health. Coal combustion, auto exhaust, and smokestack industries generate extremely high levels of particulate matter in many densely-populated areas.

Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Residents have been forced to do whatever they can to protect themselves from the evils in the air. Many wear protective masks when they have to venture out and stay inside as much as they can.

Those who can afford such luxuries are buying up air purifiers and filtration systems despite the fact that…

1) shipping to China is expensive and often voids any warranty…  and…

2) electrical outlets in China only accept 220-volt appliances. So an additional purchase (that of an adapter) is also required with most air purification equipment.

So an additional purchase (that of an adapter) is also required with most air purification equipment.

But that’s not all they’re doing. They’re also purchasing bottled air.

While it may be difficult for anyone living in North America – with its lush abundance of space, fresh water, and clean air  – to imagine, it’s a real concern for others.

Buying packaged air started in 2012 when Chinese businessman, Chen Guangbiao, began selling fresh air in cans that resembled soft drink containers.

However the successful multimillionaire and environmentalist seemed more interested in making a statement about just how bad the air quality was than in actually selling canned air.

But Edmonton, Canada-based Vitality Air is taking their packaged air business seriously.

They ship bottled air collected from Banff National Park to customers in China, mostly in the heavily-polluted cities in the northeast and southern areas of the country.

Fresh Rocky Mountain Bottled Air

Photo Credit: Day Donaldson, Flickr

The Cost of Breathable Air

A 7.7 liter tin of fresh Alberta air costs about $14.99 U.S. That makes it about 50 times more expensive than bottled water in China. Yet the product keeps on selling – shipment after shipment.

As it turns out, Vitality Air’s founders were among those early pioneers selling bags of air on eBay. What began mostly as a laughing matter turned into a business once they realized there was a market for this sort of thing.

A Growing Market

Today, Vitality Air sells both bottled air and oxygen. But China isn’t their only market. They also have customers in the Middle East, India – and even North America.

It seems that fresh air is becoming a luxury for more people. It’s a sad fact. Tragic, actually.

But when you’re surrounded by smog, with limited relocation options – what are you going to do? Just being able to breathe a little bit of fresh, clean air is something to be cherished. It’s not something any of Vitality Air’s customers take for granted.

It’s not something any of Vitality Air’s customers take for granted.

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