It’s about time we move past the plastic water bottle. Thanks to a small London design lab, we may finally be able to do it. Skipping Rocks Lab has created a plant-based alternative to the plastic bottle. The Ooho is a small orb of water in a membrane of brown algae. It fits in the palm of your hand.
A little bigger than an egg yolk, the Ooho holds together in a similar way. During production, the water is frozen into a sphere and then encased in algae-based membrane. The membrane is clear, but can be dyed or flavored. The result is a wobbly clear blob that is portable, strong, and eco-friendly. You can peel it, or even swallow it whole, making it perfect for on the go hydration.
Brightly Designed Ooho
The Ooho started as a project by three industrial design students at Imperial College London: Rodrigo García González, Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche. It won the Lexus Design Award in 2014, and now the team are crowdfunding an effort to mass market the product and bring it to consumers.
An American company called WikiFoods tried something similar with the edible WikiPearl, a bite sized frozen yogurt in edible wrapping. But when they launched the WikiPearl at Whole Foods a few years ago, they had to put their edible packaging in a plastic package anyway. This kept them clean, but defeated the purpose.
The Ooho skin is edible, but it peels off. “The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive,” González said in an interview with Fast Company. In the interest of hygiene, you can throw the peel away. It biodegrades in 4-6 weeks, so we won’t feel the need to say “Sorry, turtles!” like when we chuck out single use plastic.
Pass The Plastic
Americans use millions of water bottles every hour. Only an estimated 27% of them are recycled. These might become fiberfill for stuffed animals or sleeping bags. The rest mostly go to landfills to hang out for the next thousand years. Many eventually migrate to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where instead of biodegrading, they break apart until the plastic particles are small enough to enter the food chain.
As we’ve seen with previous efforts to replace plastic, the trick is to find an alternative that sells. Skipping Rocks is making the Ooho for only two cents each, making them cheaper to produce than plastic bottles. And if their Crowdcube campaign is any indication, the Ooho seems to be hitting the right notes with the public. The campaign has nearly doubled its goal of £400,000 with contributions from over 950 investors worldwide. If the Ooho catches consumer attention, we may finally be able to wean ourselves off the bottle.