China is such a polluted mess that the wealthy are actually buying bottles of fresh air from Canada.
If it seems almost too ridiculous to believe, it’s because it happened first in a slapstick comedy: the 1987 Mel Brooks film, Spaceballs, featured a similar concept, where the villain planet, running out of oxygen, was reduced to sniffing air out of cans.
But Vitality Air, a startup based out of Edmonton, Canada, has made a business doing just that—and they’re making a fortune.
“Our first shipment of 500 bottles of fresh air were sold in four days,” said Vitality Air’s co-founder, Moses Lam, to the Telegraph.
His next shipment of fresh Canadian air contains 4,000 additional bottles—and, according to Lam, almost all of those have already been sold via pre-order.
Vitality Air’s bottles of air are all filled by hand–think about a couple Canadians waving bottles on a mountaintop, which he says makes the process “labor intensive” but is key to making their luxury air a “very unique and fun product.”
Considering a two gallon jug of Vitality Air’s Canadian Rocky Mountain air sells for about $15, that means this next shipment alone will bring Lam and his business $60,000 in revenue. Not bad for a few hours of waving around a bottle outside your house.
Fresh air is, ludicrously, considered a luxury item in fast-industrializing Chinese cities, like Beijing. It’s a common sight to see people walking around with surgical masks, so they don’t breathe the toxic air—and, often, the city’s skyline is shrouded in what looks like a dense fog, but is actually just visible pollution from the massive city’s cars and factories.
And somehow, things are getting worse, not better: Beijing has recently issued its first “red alert” for pollution—meaning that pollution has just about as bad as its ever been—and banned half the cars from using the roads until the situation’s under control.
Until China literally cleans up its act, it may be up to enterprising Westerners like Vitality Air to supply a lifeline to China’s wealthy.