Basel resident John Green’s fledgling online business, mountainairfromswitzerland.com, sells his Swiss air in branded bottles costing from $97 for 500ml, $167 for one litre and $247 for three litres, worldwide shipping included.
The initiative is partly for charity, with Green pledging 25 percent of profits to World Vision in support of a clean water programme in Africa.
The bottles come with a signed certificate of authenticity and the GPS coordinates of exactly where the air was collected.
Billed as “the ultimate present for the man or woman that has everything,” the website says it’s collected from secret locations in Switzerland and is “surely the best air in the world”.
“As you open your ice cold jar of air (it's recommended to chill in the freezer for full effect) you flick the latch open and there's a quick pfsst as the mountain pressure equalises and you can take a breath of genuine mountain air from Switzerland,” it says.
Green's 'Swiss air' comes with an authenticity certificate. Photo: mountainairfromswitzerland.com
Speaking to The Local on Monday, Green, originally from Kent in England, said: “We really do go to a secret location near Zermatt and bottle the air and bring it back, label it up and send it off.
“I know it’s a bit crazy but it’s a fun idea and it helps give some money to a charity that I think is deserving.”
Green acknowledges that his prices are steep for what is literally thin air, but says it’s a necessary price tag, and that he may increase the percentage given to World Vision if all goes well.
“There are expenses, we’ve got to send the stuff out worldwide. I want to try and make it sustainable, I don’t want it to be a five minute wonder and make a huge loss. If you try and charge the minimum price you won’t be sustainable and you’ll go out of business.”
“And also don’t forget, it’s Swiss air! Everything in Switzerland is expensive.”
Having lived in Basel for 20 years, Green, who also runs a wellness advice website, thinks there’s definitely something about being in the Swiss outdoors that makes you feel good – though he can’t definitively say it’s the air.
“On the weekends I quite often go the mountains and come back like a different person. I don’t really know what it is, whether it’s the skiing or the air, but there’s something, definitely, that makes you feel good.”
But it remains to be seen if anyone will actually deem his bottled Swiss air worth buying. Has he had any takers so far?
“It’s starting slowly, let’s put it like that!”