Ideas they say rule the world, here’s another ridiculous but mind blowing innovation. A British former £34,000-a-year Sherborne public schoolboy now turned a multi-millionaire businessman, Leo De Watts, aged 27, makes nearly £16,000 selling bottles of British rural fresh-air to Chinese elite for a breath-taking £80 a pop.
Leo De Watts collects fresh air from the countryside and then sells it those living in pollution-plagued Beijing and Shanghai. He claims Britain boasts of the “Louis Vuitton” and “Gucci” of finest fresh air from Dorset, Somerset, Wales, Wiltshire and Yorkshire, saying said each area has its own unique aroma.
200 of his 580ml decanters of British air called “Aethaer” (which is from the ancient Greek word for pure fresh air) have been sold in just a few weeks of launching. Leo sends friends and relatives out into the countryside – as far away from pollution as possible – to bottle fresh air.
Leo’s team of air-gricultural workers put bottles in specially adapted nets and run through fields to ‘harvest’ the product. They then leave the bottles open for up to 10 minutes to mature and entrap the area’s natural aroma to ensure no grass or bugs get into the “organic” product.
Once unbottled, the “experience” of inhaling the fresh-air for the consumer lasts just a few seconds. People are also buying the breeze as a novelty gift that will never be opened.
Leo, who runs an events company as his day job is from Dorset but now lives in Hong Kong, asks friends to target land that is as far away from pollution as possible to farm the air.
He said: “I would say on the whole that Dorset air seems to pick up a few more scents of the ocean as the breeze flows up the Jurassic Coast and over the lush pastures.”
“Whereas air from the Yorkshire dales tends to filter it’s way through much more flora, so the scent captures the subtle tones of the surrounding fields, giving different qualities to the collection.”
“We go up to a hill top, for example, and collect all the products there which are all packaged and bottled up, sent to Dorset and then directly to China.”
“Our customers all have high disposal incomes and want to buy gifts for someone or someone wants to use it.”
“There is a serious point to this though as Beijing, Zhuhai, and Shanghai are the major places where pollution is quite bad, whether it is the fault of the rest of the world or its China’s responsibility, we have a case of people living in smog.”
Although a Canadian company is already sending bottled Rocky Mountain air to China, Mr De Watts is leading the British charge.
Leo said: “I saw a few reports of people importing bottles of air and thought it was a bit ridiculous myself, and then I thought about it.”
“When someone bottled water everyone thought it was ridiculous, now you have Evian and Volvic – why not bottle air?”
“We are priced as a luxury item – it is not for every-day customers. If they want something that is cheaper they can buy it.
“Think of us as being the equivalent of Louis Vuitton or Gucci, we are not likely to appeal to a mass market.”
“It is really a cottage industry at the moment – we have got a few people around the country who go out and bottle it.”
“It doesn’t require that many people and you can collect quite a lot in one go and you don’t have to pay for it.”
In December 2015, the Chinese government issued an environmental red alert, the highest level in a four-tier warning scale, over 2,000 factories in and around Beijing were ordered to either reduce production or shut down entirely as part of an emergency response plan to reduce a thick haze of toxic smog over the city which also prompted school closures and traffic restrictions.
Beijing’s air was “severely” polluted while Shanghai was “heavily” polluted, environmental authorities said. According to data from Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, concentration of harmful particulate matter — known as PM2.5 — reached 340 micrograms per cubic meter near Tiananmen Square.
The World Health Organization’s maximum recommended limit for PM 2.5 particles is 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period.