It’s April, but Fools’ Day has passed. So it’s perfectly true that a company is selling – at £80 a jar – North Yorkshire’s finest ... AIR!
The company, called Aethaer, is totally straight-faced when it boasts of “farming” and bottling “perfect, pollutant-free air”, and selling it worldwide, especially to China.
Clearly, it’s an idea not to be sneezed at.
The company, based in Dorset, is the brainchild of former public schoolboy Leo De Watts, who says Aethaer was developed “as a luxury alternative to compressed air being sold at a fraction of the price in polluted cities such as Beijing in China.”
It seems smog-bound China, and other places worldwide, are lapping up good old British fresh air, from the Yorkshire Dales and Moors, Dorset, Somerset and Wales.
Leo and his team use adapted fishing nets to run around the countryside, “harvesting” the air in bottles before sealing them. The wealthy clients in Beijing or Shanghai have a few seconds to breathe in the type of air that Moors residents, for example, take for granted.
Aethaer (pronounced eath-air) comes from the ancient Greek word for pure, fresh air, which, according to legend, was only accessible to the gods, who inhaled it as a healthier and superior alternative to air available for mortals.
On its website the company says: “The process involves travelling to some of the most beautiful, pristine areas of countryside, far away from industrial pollutants, motorways, and impurities, in search of the most immaculate quality of air.”
Leo told The Scarborough News: “Naturally, Yorkshire was at the top of our list, given its rise to take the title of The Garden of England over Kent in 2006, and the North York Moors were a perfect location from which to bottle our product.” He declined to say exactly where the air comes from – “it’s difficult to give specific locations, it depends on the wind, it can’t be blowing from a direction that carries any potential threat of contamination. Also we wouldn’t want to make mention of them in case we accidentally made known a hotspot for potential air farming voyeurs to congregate – some of our air farmers are quite shy and prefer to be left alone while collecting the precious, pure, clean air.”
He says between January 1 – when marketing began – and Chinese New Year in early February, around 150 jars had been sold, at £80 plus post and packaging. “We have stopped giving out figures so as not to attract competitors to the market, as we have a seen a few copy-cat individuals attempt to compete.”
The jars are labelled with the location of the air, with a certificate of authenticity.
“We send our products globally. While Yorkshire does do quite well, we have found that the Southern areas seem to do just a tiny bit better, but perhaps that will change as people look to expand their horizons and see what the North has to offer. Not all of our sales are to China – we had one the other day from someone in New York. Since our products can be thought of as a series of art works and are collectable, our customer base is comprised mainly of the financial elite, so if they do want air collected from other locations we will try to accommodate their requests. We may get requests for air from a valley, or by the sea shore.”
A Canadian company is already sending bottled Rocky Mountain air to China, but Leo is leading the British charge.
He 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?
“Think of us as being the equivalent of Louis Vuitton or Gucci, so we are not likely to appeal to a mass market.”