Money from thin air: British breezes sells for £80 a pop in China
Leo De Watts, 27, harvests fresh air from rural locations across the UK, including Dorset, Somerset, Wales, Wiltshire and Yorkshire.
His team use specially adapted fishing nets and run through fields to collect the breeze. The nets are left for 10 minutes to absorb the local aroma, before being bottled in 580ml containers.
De Watts, who is from Dorset but now lives in Hong Kong, described his product as the “Louis Vuitton or Gucci” of fresh air.
Commenting on the difference between the areas where English air is harvested, 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 its 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 hilltop, for example, and collect all the products there which are all packaged and bottled up, sent to Dorset and then directly to China.”
De Watts said the Chinese demand for Great British gusts stems from the country’s terrible pollution problem, especially in urban areas.
“Our customers all have high disposal incomes and want to buy gifts for someone or someone wants to use it,” he said.
“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.”
De Watts’ company Aethaer – the Greek word for pure fresh air – is one of at least two companies selling bottled air to China. A company from Canada is already selling bottled Rocky Mountain air to smog sufferers in Beijing and elsewhere.
De Watts admits he originally dismissed the idea as ridiculous.
“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,” he said.
“When someone bottled water everyone thought it was ridiculous, now you have Evian and Volvic – why not bottle air?”