CIRRUS was founded in January 2021 by brother-sister duo Ross Eyre and Cara Eyre. Schalk Kearney, CEO and co-founder of +earth interviewed the siblings for episode 5 of our founder feature interview series, Be Different.
The seemingly involuntary function of breathing is the most important thing our body does to keep us alive. Our lungs work tirelessly, day in and day out, to move life-giving oxygen through our bodies, and clean out waste gases like carbon dioxide into the environment. Plants, often referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’, draw in our expelled carbon dioxide – an essential part of their cycle of life – and breathe out oxygen.
And so it goes… again, and again, and again. The intelligent cycle of life and breath.
The lungs are the interface between our bodies and the external environment, and it goes without saying that for the best quality of life, the air we breathe should be clean. Pure air nourishes our lungs, blood, and the rest of our organs and without it, our immunity is compromised.
Since the global pandemic quite literally brought the entire planet to a standstill in 2020, health has been at the forefront of humanity’s concerns. Masks over our nose and mouth became commonplace as overwhelming scientific evidence pointed out that the COVID-19 virus was much likelier to spread through airborne transmissions than anything else.
Everybody started to become increasingly concerned about the air they were breathing.
“Safety is really important – actually feeling like your environment is safe to breathe,” says Cara Eyre, co-founder of CIRRUS. “I think COVID made us all quite aware of the air that we breathe – that arises for CIRRUS with us – choose the air that you breathe. Now we can have a bit of agency over that.”
Choose the air you breathe
“In basic terms, what we do is infuse the air with functional plant compounds,” explains Ross Eyre, co-founder of CIRRUS – a revolutionary new start-up investigating the application of functional plant compounds to human environments using air as its principal medium.
Brother and sister duo Ross and Cara Eyre were led to the idea through a shared interest in the evolutionary dynamics of living systems and the question of how to design solutions that shape them in new ways. The idea to use plant compounds to augment the human environment seemed a natural progression from this question.
“The adult lungs have a combined surface area of over 100m² (about the size of half a tennis court), and within them, a rapid exchange of gases and particles is continuously occurring,” explains Ross. “We look at the lungs as an interface between our environments and our bodies. And as a portal for entry through which we can deliver functional plant compounds and their associated benefits. We use the air as a delivery vehicle.”
The brilliance of botanicals
Looking to nature for answers to complex problems is a key driving force behind CIRRUS. Inspired by the evolutionary capacity of nature, plant-intelligent solutions could be the answer to some of our most pressing challenges. “We have to recognise the body as an intelligent system and finding ways to support that is a key question in health from a holistic perspective,” says Ross.
“We believe that plants and their derivative compounds have potential to address many health-related issues. In fact, if used responsibly, they may even take us beyond ‘baseline’ to reach more optimal states of mind and body.”
Working closely with leading phytopharmaceutical laboratories in the Western Cape to develop botanical compounds for aerosol delivery, CIRRUS is designed to improve health, mood, and productivity at home and in the workplace.
It does this through a specially designed Atmos Diffuser and a flagship plant formulation, CIRRUS Organic, which is an advanced microbial regulator and immune booster supported by decades of peer-reviewed research. According to CIRRUS, this particular plant formulation was originally used in agroecological farming due to its safety and efficacy as a natural pathogen inhibitor. The active compound present in the formulation has been reformulated for human use, enabling safe-yet-effective inhibition of airborne pathogens, including Coronavirus, while simultaneously supporting the human immune system.
“We’re learning from plants to create solutions,” says Cara. “They’re already a self-sustaining world out there, so why not learn from them? Why not learn how to bring it sustainably into our environments?”
Cirrus in the city
As the trend of urbanisation continues, and our lives become more and more entangled with urban blocks and cities, our detachment from nature is becoming increasingly more obvious. And dangerous to our health. “We have to observe our environments as living environments,” says Ross. “We see CIRRUS as a way to optimise these environments where there is a disconnection from nature. There’s decades of research to suggest that functional plant compounds have positive effects on our immune systems and our health in general. So maybe for people lacking a varied diet of organic veggies, aerosol plant compounds may provide that extra boost that can help our bodies regulate themselves.”
“This is something that people can use in their homes, in their workspaces, in the taxis they take, or wherever they go,” says Cara. “They can use it as a device to enhance their own way of life and immune system.”
To CIRRUS, it’s about cultivating a “more livable urbanism” and a sense of returning home to the Earth from whence we came, evolving in step with nature.
Cirrus and sustainability
By its very definition, environmental sustainability speaks about responsible interaction with the planet, ensuring quality of life for future generations. Over the years, this has been expanded to include our own needs and well-being including education, health and… clean air.
“It’s about raising quality of life, and not at the expense of the ecological systems that underlie everything including our economy,” says Ross. “And that’s where CIRRUS fits in. It’s in the health space. We’re also trying to provide a slight perspective shift on what it means to be human. We’re in relation to the world. And that includes acknowledging the microbial ecosystems that underlie us and give rise to us and are part of our bodies.”
CIRRUS epitomises the beautiful delicate dance of symbiosis and sustainability, representing an ideal that celebrates living organisms and people existing together in perfect harmony.