Wednesday, April 23, 2014

And how about a Nobel Prize for the Ooho guys…

I haven’t done any sort of real analysis here, but my gut instinct – and the fact that I do pick up trash when I’m out and about – is that discarded water bottles (and around here, that’s mostly Poland Springs) are in the Top Four when it comes to sidewalk trash. (Starbucks paper cups, Dunkin styro, and McDonald’s wrappers account for the rest. If there’s a fifth, it’s probably parking tickets.)

Since I do pick up a fair amount of trash, I find myself completely irked by people who have no problem carrying a bottle or cup when it’s got something in it, but who –once a vessel’s empty – can’t bear to hang on to it for a couple of minutes until they find a trash can. Or, heaven forbid, just tuck the empty into their pocket or pocketbook and take it home with them.

So I am completely in love with the fellows at Skipping Rocks Lab who’ve come up with Ooho.

Ooho is a green, homemade alternative to the tens of billions of disposable water bottles produced annually. The flexible, watertight container has the texture of a gel and, although tasteless, is easy to bite into. (Source: Business Week.)Ooho

We have Rodrigo Garcia, Pierre Paslier, and Guillaume Couche – all 30 years old or under – for this idea, which has won the Lexus Design Award for 2014.

Of course, this isn’t the first example of the fully edible foodstuff, in which the packaging can be consumed. Think ice cream cone.

But in general we have a mania for over-packaging everything. Remember the olden days when we used to survive and manage to hydrate without plastic water bottles? We were able to do so because there were bubblers everywhere. (Aside to non-New Englanders: bubbler = water fountain.) Well, those bubblers have gone the way of the payphone. Whenever I see one – there’s still one in the Boston Public Garden and, quaintly, it has a bit of mossy slime in its stone bowl – I take a swig (fingers crossed that no germy kid has just stuck his mouth all over it: probably not; I think today’s moms are way too germ-averse).

Here, in the designers’ own words (apparently translated by someone with English-as-a-second-language) is how Ooho works:

"Ooho!" replicates this behavior, encircle the water in a eatable membrane of algae. It is new way of packaging that propose an alternative to the plastic bottle. Using the culinary technique of sphereification, the water is encapsulated in a double gelatinous membrane. The technique consist into apply sodium alginate (E-401) from the brown algae and calcium chloride (E-509) in a concrete proportions in order to generate a gelification on the exterior of the liquid. The final package is simple, cheap (2ct/unit), resistant, hygienic, biodegradable and even eatable.

…After experimenting the spherification technique with different ingredients, proportions and dimensions, a “recipe” was found to create “Ooho!” with a double gelatinous membrane and in different sizes. The double membrane protects hygienically the inside and allows to locate between the two layers identification labels with out any adhesive. …The main idea of “Ooho!” is that everyone could make them at their kitchen, modifying and innovating the “recipe”. From DIY to CIY (Cook It Yourself).(Source: Design Boom.)

I may never be one of the folks using the open source recipe to brew my own Ooho, let alone improve on it. But what a great idea!

The number of plastic bottles that are thrown away each year by Americans is 35 billion. Of the plastic produced in the United States only about 25 percent is recycled. (Source: Ask)

Even if it can save us from a mere one percent of these tossed- away bottles, Ooho will make a phenomenal contribution to the world we live in.

Bless you, boys. I hope you win the Nobel Prize in something or other. Chemistry, Economics, Peace. Something or other should apply.

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