What can you do with air, water, and sunlight? For most people, the answer would be…not much. But Gregory Constantine and Stafford Sheehan are not most people.
By Hadassah Penn.
Constantine and Sheehan are co-founders of Air Co., a lifestyle company based in Brooklyn, New York that creates “goods that do good.” Their current innovation is an environmentally friendly vodka made not from grain, but from the aforementioned air, water, and sun. “The process uses the same principles as photosynthesis in trees,” says Constantine, “but does so more efficiently.”
The result is a vodka that has won Air Co. multiple awards and recognition, including a partnership with NASA. What NASA does for astronauts in space, Air Co. is trying to do for the rest of us: reduce waste, increase sustainability, and make sure that everything we use can be reused in other necessary ways. “The [alcohol] industry needs to be more conscious about the impact they are leaving,” says Constantine. “The global spirits industry omits over 350 billion pounds of CO2 per year.”
In light of this, Constantine was ready to make a change. “I felt there was a real lack of innovation across design, quality, and sustainability in the industry and wanted to pull together a product that validated those pillars.” The result? “A foundation centered around inspiring others upon those notions while showing the world that innovation can come in multiple forms and layers.”
Air Co. Carbon negative Vodka.
Constantine himself has previous experience working in the alcohol industry, and Sheehan handles the science and tech aspect of the company. “The idea was born after we became friends and bonded over our passion for innovating,” explains Constantine. “We both decided that our unique backgrounds would make for the perfect marriage to try to show the world what can be possible.” Together, as CEO and CTO, the two developed the vodka that is Air Co.’s crowning glory.
“We need to become aware of the challenges our planet (and humanity) is facing if we continue to neglect it by creating products that are wasteful and harmful,” says Constantine. While many companies are of the “do no harm” environmental mindset, Air Co. goes a step further. As the first carbon-negative alcohol beverage on the market, Air Co. vodka actually removes carbon dioxide from our environment– one pound of carbon dioxide per bottle, to be exact– in a vodka-making process that actively improves the environment. “We know that the best solutions aren’t always the most obvious, but smart executions of the right science can literally change the world,” adds Constantine.
And it’s not just the vodka itself that’s changing the world– from start to finish, Air Co. tries to be a model of sustainability. Once distilled (by a renewable electricity source, no less), the vodka is then bottled by hand. The labels are removable, so customers can reuse the bottles easily.
Air Co. bills itself as a “luxury” brand, and, as such, is committed to maintaining commercial integrity as well as environmental integrity. “There is something really beautiful about crafting a spirit, and the majesty and artistry that comes with the process of making amazing alcoholic beverages,” says Constantine. “We want to be able to educate consumers that you do not need to sacrifice quality to embody notions of sustainability and the environment.”
Air Co. Carbon negative hand sanitizer.
Until now, Constantine and Sheehan have been focused on Air Co.’s first product, the vodka, but they are also planning the company’s next move. “Our vodka shows people that making actionable steps to a better future can start with one product and should not end there,” says Constantine.
Recently, Air Co. had an early chance to prove that sentiment: on March 17, the company announced that it will be temporarily diverting all production from vodka to hand sanitizer, in an effort to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Like its vodka, Air Co. hand sanitizer is carbon-negative. “We will produce as many bottles as we can during this crisis,” the company promised in an Instagram post. “We are working closely with New York City officials to make sure that every bottle we create is donated to the communities and institutions that need it most.”
Constantine hopes that other companies will follow Air Co.’s responsible and eco-friendly example. “We want to…inspire other innovators, no matter what industry, to go out and try to do something that could help change and improve our future for the better.”
Banner photo of founders Gregory Constantine and Stafford Sheehan.
Photos courtesy of AIr Company.