Musician and actor Jaden Smith is helping to bring clean water to Flint, Michigan, the Associated Press reports.
The 20-year-old entrepreneur's company JUST Water announced on Friday it is collaborating with First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church to release a mobile filtration system they designed called the "Water Box." Residents still affected by the Flint water crisis can use the device to remove lead and other poisons from contaminated water. The device will produce up to 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute.
“This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally," Smith said.
Jaden Smith is only 20 years old and had the goodwill to provide clean water to the residents of Flint. What’s taking the federal government so long? 👀— Jared Sawyer Jr. (@JaredSawyerJr) March 3, 2019
The church has already distributed over 5 million bottles of water to residents, but bottled water donations are on the decline. Other organizations, including The Last Kilometer, Rethink H20, Black Millennials for Flint, and 501CTHREE, are also supporting the initiative.
Lead piping has caused a deadly water crisis since 2014 in Flint. Nearly 100,000 residents of the majority-black city were exposed to dangerously high lead levels in the water. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights blames the government’s negligence on systemic environmental racism. The contamination has been responsible for at least 12 deaths, and more than 80 people were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.
Jaden Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith visit Flint for the debut of a new portable water filtration system. They say the device could be a model for other communities to purify water.#Flint#Michigan#FlintWaterCrisispic.twitter.com/1u6KQ7zOzy— Ron Hilliard (@RonHilliardTV) March 3, 2019
Local residents are still advised to only drink filtered and bottled water, but many residents can’t afford to buy it themselves. The city stopped giving out free bottled water in April 2018, declaring the water clean, but residents and experts aren’t convinced. Flint isn’t expected to replace its pipe system until 2020.
Smith’s mother, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, also announced on Friday that she’ll be donating money to assist the effort to find a long-term solution to the Flint crisis, according to Jezebel.
Inspired by seeing plastic bottles floating in the water while surfing at the age of 10, Smith co-founded JUST in 2015. The eco-friendly bottled water company specializes in making water packaging from renewable resources to offer an alternative to the nearly half a trillion plastic water bottles that are purchased and consumed each year (less than 7% of which is recycled into new water bottles). Hundreds of billions of water bottles are pushed into waste streams annually, and a percentage of this ends up in the world’s oceans, where it poses a major threat to marine life.
"Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and design[ing] something to help them has been a journey I will never forget,” Smith said. “We are planning to deploy more water boxes in Flint and other communities facing similar challenges.”