A Calgary company is bottling air from Banff for people around the world to consume. The company, Vitality Air, owned by Moses Lam and Troy Paquette began bottling back in November 2014, and say their product is great for people who do not have access to fresh air, the way we do in North America.
"I wanted to do something really cool, something that could help people as well so we decided to see if we could sell fresh air because countries like India, China and Dubai (Editor's note: Not a country), they're very heavily polluted and they don't have the luxury of fresh air," Lam told VICE. "We were like, 'Hey, we should be the next bottled water and sell some bottled air.'"
The average 7.7 liter bottle comes filled with either air or oxygen. The bottle itself comes with a 2-in-1 cap that turns into a mask when you open the bottle (unlike the primitive crack-and-sniff packaging of "Perri-air" from the movie Spaceballs). During the past three months, Lam says that they have averaged 300 bottles per month in sales. Bottles of air go for about $15 while the oxygen is closer to $20.
The Banff Air 3 states that it's "Filled With 3 Liters of Banff Air, Provides Approximately 80 Breaths Of Fresh Banff Air," according to their site. While the Twin Pack of Premium Oxygen 10 is a "Package of two of our 10L bottles of 97% Pure Premium Oxygen. Provides Upwards Of 200 Inhalations!"
The two friends first sold a bag of air to test the market, and found that there was demand for their product.
"We started selling one bag on eBay for 99 cents to see if there was any demand. It sold and then we listed it again. The next time around it sold for $168 US," he said. It was then that the idea for their company really took off.
In terms of health benefits, Lam claims it's good for people in countries like India and China to get some fresh air since some cities are so polluted, also for athletes and breathing in high altitudes.
"[It's] great for clubbing, it helps reduce hanovers and stuff like that," Lam also claims. "The oxygen along with liquids will help you get rehydrated again and help those blood vessels not shrink as fast, therefore reducing your headaches."
Alternatively, you could have an oxygen party with all your friends where everyone has to bring their own oxygen (BYOO).
As of now, the only testimonial on Vitality Air's site reads "IT TASTE LIKE AIR VERY GOOD THANK U."
While he told us that it is both mentally and physically straining being in the elements and collecting the air, he said that he couldn't explain it all in detail.
"The process is kind of a trade secret, but it's long and tedious: it takes us about 10 hours just to capture the air, and then we bring it back to our place here and put it into these little bottles," he said, claiming that the process yields around 3,000 bottles. "Machinery-wise it's all very very expensive, so all our credit cards and lines of credit are maxed out. So there's definitely no turning back."
The last time they went out to secretly capture air was before the wildfires began to affect air quality, said Lam. Before they go to collect air again, they said they would have to test the air and make sure it is OK to sell.
"Right now, no, I would not go out there to bottle air to sell it into these cans. For sure not just because of all the forest fires and everything," he said.
As for the future of the company, they have plans on expanding and hope to gather air from other fresh resources around the world, but for now will continue to sell their homemade products online and in local stores.
From now until November 30, Vitality Air will donate a portion of their sales to help fight BC Wildfires, through the Red Cross—he just doesn't know how much they will be donating yet, as it depends on how many sales they make.
It's perhaps a savvy act of goodwill, especially if any of the western provinces decide they want in on all that abundant air-money, the same way BC has finally decided to charge companies for bottling its water. Beware air bottlers, you could be next.
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