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Ditch the bottle: “Ooho” aims to make bottle-free water available to the masses

| April 10, 2014

In the U.S., we only recycle 9 percent of our plastic. Plastic water bottles are a major contributor to that statistic. In fact, it has been estimated that Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

Let that sink in for a moment.

We’ve heard — and written about — of a lot of efforts to address the problem with plastic water bottles, but perhaps no other approach has been quite as inventive — and bewildering — as the edible water blob.

ohoo

The Ooho water blob. From Co.Exist.

The blob, named the Ooho, is the brainchild of three industrial design students based in London. It’s somewhat akin to an egg yolk, with an edible membrane surrounding the liquid interior. Break the membrane, and the water is released. Visually, the Ooho is reminiscent of the water we might see in a zero-gravity environment.

The idea behind the Ooho was designed to be a water container that disappears along with its contents, leaving no waste behind. The membrane is actually a gel, produced from a combination of brown algae and calcium chloride. In addition to being edible, the gel is described as strong, hygienic, and biodegradable.

The design has already generated quite a bit of attention, including the second annual Lexus Design Award.

However, the Ooho is not without its drawbacks. For one thing, it’s messy. A video demonstration reveals that when breaking the membrane, the Ooho gets a bit unwieldy and is likely to result in water leaking on the user’s face, hands, and table.

Another dilemma: the Ooho provides a sanitary barrier to the encased water, but since consumers actually eat the package, it follows that the package should be sanitary as well. As of right now, they haven’t quite figured out that element.

Those barriers to use are considerable, but so is the potential payoff of eliminating plastic water bottles. Adele Peters from Fast Company’s Co.Exist reports that the Ooho “can be made for just two cents” each. Given that most of the cost involved with producing bottled water is in the bottle production, a product like the Ooho could reduce costs for both producers and consumers.

So will the Ooho revolutionize the bottled water industry? That remains to be seen. It appears that a few kinks still need to be worked out, but the idea is inspiring. Designers Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez, Pierre Paslier, and Guillaume COuche experimented with a variety of “spherification” techniques before landing on the recipe that can be seen in the current iteratio of the Ooho. The designers insist that the process is one that can be easily replicated. In fact, one of the main functions of their research is to encourage people to replicate the recipe in their own homes and create their very own Oohos.

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Category: Plastic, Recycling programs

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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