2006/05/16

What A Gas

From the "Stranger Than Science Fiction" department, comes this news:

"Sales of canned oxygen to create
fresh market for Seven-Eleven Japan"


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Japanese convenience store operator Seven-Eleven Japan announced it will add cans of oxygen to its shelves. Each can will contain enough oxygen for 35 two second inhalations.

The oxygen comes in two flavors: "strong mint" and "grapefruit" and will cost 600 yen (that's about US$5.45) a can, including consumption tax.

Before you laugh yourself silly think about this: 25 years ago, if I had told you that in the 21st century, people would buy their drinking water in 1 liter bottles shipped by sea or even airplane from the other side of the planet, you would have laughed me out of the room. Today, 154 billion liters per year are consumed, most of which is shipped from one country to another. Most of the emptied bottles - 2.7 million tons of plastic - can be seen on any ocean, beach, or roadside in the world and will take 400 to 1000 years to degrade.

I'm all for drinking and breathing clean water and air, but I prefer to achieve that by not allowing either to become polluted in the first place.

16 comments:

agus said...

a troubling trend indeed. And about the water thing, just last week someone mentioned about the 'joke' that was selling drinking water in bottles. "Many years ago, people would laugh if you say you're starting a business selling drinking water. Unheard of. But now some would only drink bottled water."

And yeah, the accumulating amount of plastic bottles is disturbing.

Robin said...

Hey, this is exactly what I need for my next trip to Tibet!

In China, Canned Oxygen is sold at least twice the price!

Pandabonium said...

Agus - I wonder what the firefighters and emergency medical people think about this. It won't be long before kids make rockets or bombs with this stuff and some who smokes burns his or her self. Didn't these people have a chemistry class where they experimented with pure oxygen? But in general I just think it is another example of a trendy, wasteful, un-needed item which Japanese consumers will probably be happy to spend money on.

Robin - Maybe so, but go for a 'real' bottle of oxygen. As a pilot I appreciate the medical need for oxygen supplimentation at altitude. This is just marketing nonsense. China sells it for twice as much? There's a switch.

Don Snabulus said...

The oxygen company's motto:

There's a sucker born every minute.

;) [Sucking oxygen, that is]

The Moody Minstrel said...

This canned oxygen thing is actually the reemergence of a trend that came about (briefly) back in the '80s.

In my last years of college, while I was studying Japanese, there was a thing in the TV news talking about "oxygen bars" which were popping up in Tokyo. They were literally salons were you could go into a cubicle and listen to relaxing music while holding a tube in front of your face and breathing the scented oxygen that blew out. The program said that the salon owners were confident it was a "chic", new trend that would catch on and last for some time as Tokyoites became more health conscious. By the time I arrived in Japan (in 1990), they had all but disappeared.

Trends are a very fickle thing in Japan.

Liza said...

Nothing in this world could shock me nowadays. E.g. New Water created in Singapore. That shows how desparate we are baring the consequences of our own actions. Interesting blog you have here. Will need sometime to catch up :)

Anonymous said...

New business trend . Is there any side-effect for that?

Natural air is needed indeed.

Pandabonium said...

Yes indeed, Snabby.

MM - I have a friend on Maui who still operates an oxygen bar as part of his restraurant business. I always associated O2 with being in the hospital, so it didn't interest me to try it.

Thanks for stopping by Liza. I like your blog.

Anonymous - no side effects, but hopefully no one will try this while lighting a cigarette or with any oil based skin products on - one could get burned.

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Anything with excessive amount in our body prone to bring troubles (READ). Hope it's not new tragedy in the making.

Pandabonium said...

Low,

While there may be hazards to treatments which involved getting into a hyperbaric chamber of pure oxygen, pilots have used oxygen for years while at high altitudes without adverse effect. I don't think these cans which just contain enough for 35 breaths will do any harm in that way. I do think there are other dangers - fire hazards for one - and I also think it is a waste of aluminum, of people's money, and a new source of litter.

YD said...

oh dear... now they ARE selling commercially the used-to-be-public-good, or rather, used-to-be-free-mother-nature-resources. It is scary to think that in the future, only the rich can get "fresh" air, while others are deprived of this basis necessity for life.

ok. back to books now. :-P

@ロウ 。LOW@ said...

Hmm, 35 breaths? Hope everyone will put it through their mouth only (just joking) :p

Perhaps the level of development of your country depends on what can be found in your rubbish dump.

Oxygen can, uh-hu :)

Pandabonium said...

Good point, @Low@. No doubt rubbish dumps, err, "land fills" (sounds so much nicer), will provide a lot of information to the archaeologists of the future looking for clues as to what our culture was all about.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Nothing surprises me anymore about marketing strange objects, water, air!
How polluted are the cities in Japan?
I know the feeling when you are in smog and you really want to see a clean sky. Geelong is okay. Our son wanted some fresh air - I think the carpet in the lounge where he was sleeping - he was cold after coming from Fiji - was dusty and made him sneeze. He just jogged for five minutes to reach the Eastern Gardens and the Botanical Gardens and came back refreshed.
We are near the sea also so that's a bonus.
Oxygen! The real thing, thank you.
Wendy

The Moody Minstrel said...

How polluted are the cities in Japan?

It depends on the city. There are some that are actually rather clean, all things considered. Then there are places like Tokyo, where it's quite common to come home from your daily commute and find soot deposits under your nose and almost all the many bodies of water (yes, there are a few notable exceptions...it is a very big city) are officially toxic.

Even some of the smaller cities can be pretty scary. The city of Kamisu, which borders Kashima, sometimes gets so polluted by its sprawling petrochemical kombinat that the air smells like turpentine and it literally hurts to breathe. (I know because I used to live there.) The factories in the kombinat boast that their emissions are the cleanest in the world...but I know from direct, inside sources that that's only true during the day. At night they clean the filters by blasting compressed gas through them...right up the smokestacks.

What's really funny is that they don't even try to cover up what they're doing. They make it painfully obvious. Does the government care? No. At least specs are met during the day...and the bribes paid on time.

Pandabonium said...

Wendy - Such problems are common to all industrialized places in the world that I know of.

Where we live we get a fresh breeze off the ocean most of the time and passing rains as well, so the air quality is excellent. I am concerned about the well water as the farmers around here use herbicides and pesticides and I've seen what that does to farmers on Maui over time, so we filter it for cooking and drink purified water we get from a machine.