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Can you eat your water bottle?

Inspired by elBulli chef Ferran Adrià, a group of students in London have come up with an edible water bottle you can create at home

Can you eat your water bottle?

Rodrigo García González is an ideas man. Over the years the trained architect has designed a suitcase that follows its owner, a furniture collection to be made at home using food waste, a suit bag that “irons” clothes, and architectural spaces constructed from newspapers, Ikea bags and used water bottles. His latest idea – an edible “water bottle” called Ooho – might just be his biggest yet.

García González came up with the concept for Ooho as part of a project for the Innovation Design Engineering course at London’s Royal College of Art, in which students come up with new ideas to help the world.

“I was actually developing another project,” says García González. “It was an artificial cloud – a big balloon that would collect water from the sea, desalinate it and turn the water into steam that would allow the balloon to float and deliver the water inland. The problem was how to deliver the water without using plastic, so I started to experiment with different techniques.” He then teamed up with engineering students Guillaume Couche and Pierre Yves, who both have experience in packaging design, to develop the concept. The solution to the problem proved more promising than the original project and the Ooho was born.

The answer was found in spherification, a culinary process originally developed to create fake caviar and popularised by elBulli chef Ferran Adrià in the 1990s. The process works by taking a liquid and putting it in a solution of calcium and brown algae to create a gelatinous membrane that supports the liquid – kind of like an edible balloon. And, you can easily make one at home. “We strongly believe in sharing creativity,” says García González. “We can do some of the work, but if it spreads around the world and everyone is making them and giving feedback, it will be improved as a product much faster.”

Then there’s the interest from big companies – from flavour and water companies to packaging developers. “It’s too early to say whether we will work with any of them. At the moment, we are working out what we actually have and what we could offer them,” he says. “I’m good at coming up with ideas and I have fun doing it, but I’m terrible at business and management – it’s something I try to avoid as much as possible!”
García González acknowledges that Ooho isn’t necessarily a viable everyday alternative to plastic bottles – you can’t, for example, open and close an Ooho, and it’s far more fragile than a plastic bottle – but he does hope the project gets people thinking.

“This is a small project, but I think it can push more people to think about the issues of plastic waste,” he says. “It is a problem that needs to be faced.”


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