At some point, our continued existence on this planet will have to start revolving around new, more sustainable products. Products like Ooho!, an edible, biodegradable water package made from seaweed.
In 1898, polyethylene was synthesized by accident but it didn’t really catch on. Thirty-five years later, British chemists Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett developed the first practical method to mass produce PE and thus a new era for mankind began. Plastic paved the way towards our modern world, there’s no denying that.
Additionally, it’s been flipping mother nature off ever since. According to ecowatch, 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away each year in the United States alone. The worldwide figure is much, much bigger. Even if we decide to put this information out of sight and out of mind, the plastic waste itself is going to stick around for at least another 5 centuries.
Our “use once, throw away, repeat” policy has given rise to majestic structures like the Great Pacific garbage patch, the world’s largest landfill. Well, technically it’s more of a seafill but you catch my drift. The most conservative estimates suggest it’s around the size of Texas while other reports claim it covers up to twice the size of the continental United States. Either way, it’s big. And it’s ever-growing.
Most of us choose to ignore the issue because human life thrives on convenience. We like doing things the easy way.
The guys and gal over at Skipping Rocks Lab aren’t like most of us. They created Ooho! hoping it might show us an alternative path.
“The consumption of non-renewable resources for single use bottles and the amount of waste generated is profoundly unsustainable. The aim of Ooho! is to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting the environmental impact.”
This transparent container is dirt cheap and easy to produce. Through a process called spherification, a given volume of water is encapsulated in a double-layered edible membrane made from calcium chloride (E-509) and sodium alginate (E-401). The final product costs around 2 cents a pop to produce. Calcium chloride can be derived directly from limestone (we’ve got enough of that lying around) while sodium alginate is extracted from brown algae.
In an interview with The Guardian, Ooho! designer Pierre Paslier described his brainchild as a versatile “man-made fruit.” He’s convinced we’re going to love it:
“At the end of the day you don’t have to eat it. But the edible part shows how natural it is. People are really enthusiastic about the fact that you can create a material for packaging matter that is so harmless that you can eat it.”
The company that created Ooho! recently won the first prize and a €20,000 grant in a competition run by Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest public-private innovation partnership focused on climate change. They were also presented with WTN’s World Technology Award for Environment.
You’ll have to agree with me that $22,500 is peanut money compared to the potential benefits this idea has to offer. Fortunately, there are investors interested in clean technologies, the most notable of them being Kim Kardashian.
In June, Microsoft founder and business magnate Bill Gates promised he’d invest $2 billion in renewable technologies initiatives, perhaps out of guilt of having already invested $1.4 billion in fossil fuel companies, BP included.
Bill, please invest some of you gold into Ooho! and, if it helps I will gladly put these balls in my mouth.