The edible water making races greener – we speak to Ooho about their water pods

ooho water

If you haven’t heard of Ooho, the best way to describe them is pods of edible water that have been popping up at races all over the country. Made from plants and seaweed materials, these pods  are biodegradable, edible and better for the environment than single use plastic. You can treat them like a gel, make a tear and suck the water out, with the outer shell breaking down in four to six weeks, or pop the pod in your mouth and eat it.

But how did they come about and will these pods be popping up at bigger races anytime soon, we had a chat with Ooho to find out more –

There’s no ifs or buts about it, single-use plastic is damaging the planet, and stats show that if nothing changes, by 2050 they’ll be more plastic in our oceans than fish. Ooho is definitely striving the way to making races greener – how long did it take you and the team at Skipping Rocks Lab to develop the product?

The Ooho pods have been in development for about four years now. The pods are made from seaweed which is biodegradable, home compostable and even edible – that’s how natural it is!

Ooho have been popping up at races all over the country, which is great, but being so natural, they have a very short shelf life. How difficult would it be to produce them for a major event, for example the London Marathon?

In terms of scaling up the production process, we’ve developed a machine to make Oohos automatically, so we do have the ability to produce a lot of the pods. That said, London Marathon would, for sure, be a huge task, but it’s definitely not impossible. At the moment we’re still trialling the pods at smaller scale races.

How much water fits in each pod?

At the moment we are making the pods 70mls in size, which seems to be enough for a few gulps. We’re also experimenting with producing larger pods, so you can expect to see us testing the bigger size at events next year.

Is it just water, or could you add gels to the pods?

Yes, in fact we tried this recently with Lucozade sports gels and they worked quite well. We can put a really wide range of liquids into an Ooho pod – from juice to ketchup to cocktails!

Related: This half marathon was the first in London to go single-use-plastic free

How durable are the pods, could runners, for example, pick up a couple of Ooho gels at the beginning of a race and run with them in their belts?

We haven’t actually tried this, but at the moment I’d say this probably isn’t possible and couldn’t promise they would survive that impact.

Is the seaweed used to make the pods the kind of seaweed you find on a beach, or does it need to be farmed?

We use brown seaweed which grows all over the world in temperature zones. It can be harvested or farmed and it’s definitely a growing industry. The great thing is that seaweed is very abundant, it grows fast and doesn’t need arable land or fresh water to do so.

What can we expect to see next from Ooho?

In terms of running events, we’re really looking to find a sponsor to bring Ooho to more races across the country next year. So far feedback from runners has been great and we really want to roll it out across as many events as possible, but it’s a bit more expensive per unit than bottled water, so we do need some financial support to really explode across the market (pun intended)! We’re also working with Lucozade to see if Ooho can be used to replace their plastic bottles in races which is really exciting – we have already done two mini trials, so watch this space for 2019!