Air pollution is a real problem in cities throughout the world. Los Angeles, Beijing, New Delhi, and numerous other cities have had major problems with smog in the past. Sometimes it seems like even a whiff of fresh air is hard to come by, and you might feel like the only way to fill your lungs with fresh, pure, untainted air is to drive to the middle of nowhere, stop your car and take a few breaths.
But driving a long distance will cost you a hefty sum in gas money. Plus, the trip itself will add to air pollution (that’s kind of counter productive). What if you could just buy a can of fresh air? How much would you be willing to pay for that? A British ex-pat living in Switzerland named John Green thinks you’d be willing to pay £200 British Pounds (roughly $246 dollars). Yes, almost $250 dollars for a can of air. This seems strangely familiar to the plot of Spaceballs.
Jokes aside, air pollution is a real problem. According to The Guardian, most people really have no clue how bad the air they are breathing really is. In the United Kingdom, where Green is from, 38 of the biggest cities (there are 42) were over the legal limit for air pollution.
If the air is that bad in the UK, how bad is it in some of the bigger US cities? “Often you can’t see it or smell it, but it’s there – and air pollution is risking the health of an entire generation of children,” Oliver Hayes, a Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner told The Guardian.
With that said, are we willing the shell out large sums of money to drink ‘pure’ air? Green, who has lived in Switzerland for 20 years says he procures the air at a secret location in the Swiss Alps (so he claims). He believes his idea will catch on and people will be ordering his air all over the world. And if you’re not sold yet, Green will also include a certificate of authenticity and the GPS coordinates of where your air came from.
This isn’t the first time someone tried to sell canned fresh air. Two years ago, a company called Vitality Air launched its fresh, Canadian canned air in China (for $30 US dollars per can) and sold out instantly. In 2013, a Chinese millionaire made major bank selling cans of air in Beijing.
Green claims that he travels to at least 10,000 feet to “fetch” the air. “I don’t go into a car park to get it, honest,” he told The Mirror. “I have lived here for 20 years, and the Swiss don’t know what they’ve got. The air really is something special.” He said “honest,” so I guess we have to believe him.
Green’s air comes in three different sizes: £200 for three liters, £135 for one liter, and £78 for a pint. He thinks people will shell out their hard earned money to breath in air from such high, un-polluted altitude. “All I can say is it is collected near a babbling mountain stream, fed by melt water from a famous glacier, near a very famous mountain.” And you don’t even have to breathe it. Green says that if you’re not ready to inhale that cool mountain air when it’s delivered, you can stick it in the fridge (which he recommends you do anyway) and keep it as a “collector’s item” to “remind you of the good life.” If this doesn’t sound like the beginning of a bestselling YA series about a dystopian wasteland, I don’t know what does!
Why would people pay this pretty crazy sum of money for something they can’t even prove is real? Green claims he collects the air high up in the alps, but does he really? Also, how does he extract the air anyway? It all seems pretty vague and there are a lot of questions that Green’s “honest” doesn’t even begin to cover.
According to Health.com, the cities with the freshest air in the US include: Cheyenne (Wyoming), Santa Fe (New Mexico) and Bismarck (North Dakota). A flight from Los Angeles to Santa Fe will set you back a few hundred dollars and at least you get to visit New Mexico. Or, you can have a jar full of air to breath in your cluttered apartment. You decide. We’ll wait here.