Many companies are cashing on this near-absurd business of selling canned, bottled or even bagged air.
The notion – maybe best known for being a gag in the 1987 movie Spaceballs – is finding a market in China, a country with a crisis-level pollution problem and growing upper and middle classes willing to spend on the finer things in life.
More so, when winter is approaching. Thick hazardous smog has returned to Beijing and parts of northern China which still rely heavily on coal-fuelled heating systems. So far, there have been three periods of "hazardous" air quality since the start of autumn, and meteorological departments have warned the situation could only get worse in the coming months.
Bottled air. Photo credit: PNA/Xinhua
One of these companies sells bottled air collected exclusively from a primitive forest in Inner Mongolia, China.
Chen Zhiquan, Global Outlook Biotech’s managing director said of his Senlin Baobei canisters: "The cans contain air from the Greater Khingan Mountains".
Indeed, he has seen a sharp spike in his company’s sales. From fewer than 100 units in August and increasing to about 400 in September – his company has already sold more than 1,000 in the first 20 days of October.
Most purchases were made online by people in Beijing and cities in Shandong province, Chen had said. He also added that the canisters, which are priced at 58 yuan ($8.50) and come with a breathing mask, are designed to provide 30 minutes of "natural fresh air".
Feedback from customers has been mixed.
A man who tried the product at a fair in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, described inhaling the contents of the canister as "fresh and comfortable", while others said they had no reaction. Ma Rutao, a college student in Beijing, said, "I'd rather spend more money on an air purifier than a temporary fix".
On Tuesday, Daniel Sturridge struck twice as Liverpool overcame Tottenham 2-1 to reach the EFL Cup quarter-finals. The Reds are 10 matches unbeaten in all competitions and have won eight games in that run.
One day later, Celtic hammered Ross County 4-0 in a Scottish Premiership game. Patrick Roberts put Celtic ahead after only three minutes. And then Stuart Armstrong coolly slotted home to double Celtic's lead on 83 minutes. Substitutes Scott Sinclair (90+1) and Moussa Dembele (90+3) added two more to the scoreline.
I am reminded of a student's gratitude. Today, she gifted me with Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts because I had spent time to tutor her as she studied for her resit. Of course, she passed the paper.
I am grateful.
Yesterday, I was in Bangsar South to attend the MIA Toastmasters meeting. The Malaysian Institute of Accountants has moved to a brand-new premise at Unit 33-01, Level 33 in Tower A @ The Vertical in KL’s Jalan Kerinchi.
My maiden visit to the venue. There, I took up dual roles, as a Toastmaster-of-the-Evening as well as an assignment speaker – my CC #7 speech titled “Crime Does Pay”.