May 14, 2010

Volcanic Ash Being Sold For Charity

An Internet company from Iceland has capitalized on the volcanic ash plume that led to Europe's biggest aerial shutdown since World War II by turning the crisis into a charity money-maker, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The online company,, which sells a variety of products from the north Atlantic island, is selling 5.5 ounce jars of the ash from the Eyjafjoell volcano for $29.90 (23.80 euros), with all proceeds going to charity.

Since the company began selling the ash 10 days ago, "the response has been enormous," said Sofus Gustavsson, whose company has sold the ash to 60 countries so far.

Nearly a million visitors have gone onto the website since the offer began. "It all started when one of our foreign clients, who is a collector, inquired if we could get him some ash from the volcano. I thought right away that this was a brilliant idea," the chief executive of the site told AFP.

"My father lives nearby the volcano and I asked him if he could get me some ash. He shoveled a whole lot and brought it to me," Gustavsson added.

Gustavsson's father has since made three more trips to collect the ash, and every time it has been different. "It is now much coarser than it was earlier," Gustavsson said.

Two more companies have started selling the ash as well, but both of those companies aim to make a profit.

Gustavsson said his company will donate the proceeds to Iceland's search and rescue services. "I thought there was something wrong about profiting from something that is ruining peoples' lives, the farmers near the volcano for example."