It wasn’t long ago that I thought bottled NYC tap water was the most ridiculous I would ever see sold, but now a Chinese entrepreneur is selling fresh air in a can.
Unlike New York’s finest, who was trying to make a quick buck, Chen Guangbiao is trying to make a point about pollution in China. The air quality in some Chinese cities makes the smog in LA look like a beautiful mist. To draw attention to this, as if most no one had noticed, he decided to start canning and selling fresh air.
He concedes that his canned-air effort is tongue in cheek, but says it’s a way to awaken people to the importance of environmental protection. His campaign is attracting bemusement but also plaudits from the media and from people desperate to escape the smog.
The cans of air were free on Wednesday, but usually sell for 5 yuan (80 cents) with proceeds going to poor regions of China, and places of historic revolutionary importance.
Sales, which had been moderate, took off after the recent streak of bad air days, with 8 million cans sold in the last 10 days, Chen said.
I’ve never been more thankful to have unlimited access to decent air. Chicago is by no means country fresh, but I’ve never considered picking up a Michael Jackson mask just to walk the streets. You can be damn sure I won’t by tying a bag around my head and cracking open an empty can.