Today’s Solutions: May 28, 2023

Although the Ooho looks a lot like a water balloon, it’s not meant to be thrown. This water bubble is the latest solution to the growing pile of plastic waste. By packaging water in a compostable and even eatable membrane the plastic bottle becomes redundant.
The designers of the Ooho, Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez from Spain, and Pierre Paslier and Guillaume Couche from France, won the Lexus Design Award in 2014. The water bowl is formed by a process called ‘spherification’, a technique also used in molecular cooking to naturally create a barrier around a liquid – a sort of membrane. The chemistry process in which algae reacts with calcium exist in nature too, like with egg yolks and caviar. The membrane of an Ooho consists of brown algae and calcium carbonate.
The developers of Ooho hope that in the future this type of packaging will be embraced by the consumer, as well as the packaging industry, by making the recipe for the membrane available so anyone can make it at home. In an interview with The Optimist the creators of the Ooho told us about their plans for this futuristic water–bag.
Where did the idea for the Ooho come from?
The idea for Ooho came from another project about water transportation at a much bigger scale. We were looking at creating large balloons that could carry water in the desert. When we were facing the issue of delivering water avoiding plastic, we started to play with the technique of spherification and found a potential way to solve the problem we had identified, but on a different scale.
What were the challenges in designing Ooho?
None of us have chemistry degrees so working out the best formula and process was done empirically and still a lot to do. But the big challenges are ahead of us. Changing people’s perception on bottled water is much harder than gathering a team of experts to improve the process.
How do you drink it without getting wet?
If you take the image of orange, you’ve got a big packaging containing smaller “sip” size elements. The idea is that a pack of small eatable Ooho comes in a bigger Ooho container with thicker and more resistant membrane.
What does the name, Ooho, mean/stand for?
It comes from the spherical shape and the surprise that generates.
What do you expect of Ooho in the future, is it going to replace water bottles? 
Everyone agrees that we can’t continue to throw away 10 grams of plastic every time we are thirsty. We’re getting so much feedback, and it’s very encouraging to see that more and more people are starting to imagine that in the future you might drink from a container closer to a fruit than a plastic bottle. Our first achievement was to start this public debate, offer an alternative way of thinking and hopefully trigger a reaction within the packaging industry.
Is the gelatinous membrane also suitable to pack other products in the future?
In theory, the spherification technique can be used to create a membrane around pretty much anything that is liquid. The next step would be to look at the life span of the product inside the Ooho and probably keep engineering the membrane to optimize the protection.
I read this at ‘The main idea of “Ooho!” is that everyone could make them in their kitchen, modifying and innovating the “recipe”.’ How does this work?
We’re still working on the recipe… We’ve started some interesting collaborations and hopefully we’ll be able to publish the recipe to make it at home before the summer. Water is a huge issue, keeping your innovations for yourself is counter productive, and from the beginning the idea was that the Ooho recipe would be open source. It’s a collaborative project and everyone’s help is welcome.
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