Jaden Smith, the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and star of After Earth, just last week received the Male Futures Award by the Environmental Media Association (EMA). That's right, the young actor, millennial fashion maven, and friend of Kid Cudi, is something of an environmentalist.
Smith's cause is JUST Water, a company that he helped to found that works to create an ecologically sound package for bottled water. An average of 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills each year, and an estimated 17 million barrels of oil is required to produce them. The solution, according to JUST, is to redesign the package — make it from 100% recyclable plant-based plastic, fill it with spring water, and work to lower the carbon footprint at every step in the processing.
The cause might feel a bit Hollywood itself. (When is the last time you saw an actor or actress walking around in public without a plastic water bottle?) But it's a growing environmental problem, and at just 18 years old, Jaden Smith has put a lot of work and, yes, celebrity weight into the project. “He is the catalyst behind the whole idea. It has been a dream of his to cut down on plastic pollution since he was 10 years old,” says Grace Jeon CEO of JUST Water. “When the company was founded in 2013 they had been working on the idea for several years with a few other individuals.”
The EMA award recognizes young individuals who are taking an active role in combating environmental issues, and are leading the way forward with innovative new ideas. Past recipients include Justin Timberlake, Hayden Panettiere, and Rosario Dawson. Shailene Woodley, of The Descendants fame, is being honored with the female award for, among other causes, lending her voice to protests over a new oil pipeline in North Dakota.
“It’s important for everyone to know that you can make a difference no matter what obstacles you think are in your way,” said Smith in a release. “After seeing the amount of ocean pollution and the effect it was having on marine wildlife, I couldn’t stand there and do nothing about it — I knew I had to take action... With the Male EMA Futures Award, our voices are being amplified and we’re making a difference. Having the support from an organization that shares the same values as me makes the future more optimistic than ever.”
JUST is now in the process of rolling out nationally in most major retail locations with a plan to be in 25,000 stores by the end of this year. The best way to get a sneak peek of the product is to bump into Jaden Smith on the street — he's rarely seen without a carton in hand.