A new invention promises to be a cheap and edible alternative.
April 03, 2014 By Kristina Bravo (Kristina Bravo is a Los Angeles–based writer. She is a fellow at TakePart.)
Depending on the hipness of their chosen brand, Americans pay two to four times the cost of gasoline for bottled water. That's a lot of plastic. In the U.S. alone, about 38 billion of the commodity's plastic remnants end up in landfills every year. What if you could eat your bottle instead of tossing it in the garbage? Three industrial design students from Spain have come up with an edible alternative: the Ooho.
Rodrigo García González, Guillaume Couche, and Pierre Paslier took notes from molecular gastronomy, using a process called "spherification" to shape liquid into caviar-like orbs. In Ooho's case, brown algae and calcium chloride make up a thin membrane that can hold water. The weird, somewhat icky result resembles a big, transparent egg yolk.
"The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive," Garcia explained to Fast Company. Besides being strong, edible, and biodegradable, the Lexus Design Award–winning invention costs only 2 cents to make.
While the designers' plans for Ooho are still in progress, they've licensed the project under Creative Commons for free access. "Nowadays, only big companies have the infrastructure to manufacture packaging," said the designers. "The main idea of Ooho is that everyone could make them in their kitchen…from DIY to CIY—cook it yourself."
Ooho clearly poses portability problems—and drinking it can be messy, as you can see in the video—but innovations like this show promise. This month Whole Foods will start selling WikiPearls, bite-size, edible packaging that holds fruits, soup, cocktails, water, and other items.
We may need to hold our breath a little longer for tweaks to the Ooho or other plastic-free containers. But solving the world's bottled water problem? Nobody said it was going to be easy—and the wait will be worth it.