Will and Jaden Smith have vowed to donate water to the schools in Flint, Michigan, until the city’s water is drinkable again.
Their eco-friendly water company, JUST, has already given 9,200 bottles to Flint until lead levels in the water drop, making it potable water again. It was JUST CEO Ira Laufer who decided that the company should donate after reading about how the city’s water crisis affected public schools.
“This just makes sense for us to do,” Laufer told MLive. “After reading more about [Flint’s] challenges and the mayor objecting to pulling bottled water from the schools, we thought, ‘Let’s help these kids.’”
Will and Jaden Smith founded the water bottle company in 2015 as a green alternative to plastic bottles. A JUST bottle is 82 percent plant-based, with water sourced from Glens Falls, New York. The company has also made long-term investments in the city of Glens Falls.
The Flint water crisis became national news in 2014 when city officials started using the Flint River as the town’s main water source. It turns out the city’s pipes were extremely corroded and had polluted the water with toxic levels of lead. An Environmental Protection Agency study found that lead levels in Flint’s water were as high as 397 parts per billion, way above the federal limit of 15 ppb.
Twelve city residents have died from a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak, leading to city officials being charged with involuntary manslaughter. In 2017, the EPA gave Flint a $100 million grant to begin replacing water pipes, which should be completed by 2020. It has been over 1500 days since Flint has had drinkable water.
“This was a company born out of a child’s love for the ocean,” Will Smith told The Associated Press about his son’s environmentalism. “We did not want this to be a celebrity brand. We’re just about to launch our second product and we felt like there were enough people who already have accepted the brand and it wouldn’t look like celebrities trying to sell some water.”