In conversation with actor, rapper, singer, songwriter, and founder of 501cTHREE, a non-profit focused on driving positive social and environmental impact in everyday items while creating awareness around energy, food, and water. Jaden has been an outspoken leader around water conservation, and one of his most famous initiatives is The Water Box program that is on a mission to deliver clean water to disenfranchised communities.
We had the chance to chat with Jaden about his plans, point of view, and how to drive action in a changing world.
“My main goal with everything that I'm doing is to help people improve their lives, make people feel good, make them feel like they belong”
- JADEN SMITH
What does leaving behind a better planet mean to you?
My main goal with everything that I'm doing is to help people improve their lives, make people feel good, make them feel like they belong. And then also to just decarbonize the atmosphere. We want to make the world better and the problem that we're dealing with global warming is greenhouse gasses are heating up the planet and making it unstable for the life here. We want to keep the temperature where it’s at, maybe one degree lower than where it is. As the youth right now in the environmental movement, we want to demonstrate solutions that radically decarbonize the atmosphere. But, yeah, that's, that's what I mean when I say, I want to make the world better, and I love that because it's specific.
How do you feel about overconsumption?
We over consume a lot. I feel like the world that we live in, people constantly feel that they need the newest thing. They want this specific product but they also need it to be the most current version of that specific product. And that gets caught in people's heads so much to where we're always going to buy this and then the next day we're going to buy that same thing but just slightly different because you know everybody else is going to have that slight variation so we're going to buy. Then somebody else did have it so you're going to have to buy the next one or the next one and the next thing. And the way that we produce things is not conducive to the way that we buy them, because it requires so much energy to produce them and it contaminates the water.
It puts us into this really bad cycle where we fall into over consumption, and it's a sad thing that happens, but I also feel like when people are aware of how difficult it is to make that product that you're over consuming, then it gives us the proper information to think, “okay, I'm not going to buy this a million times for this reason.”
“I feel like the world that we live in, people constantly feel that they need the newest thing”
- JADEN SMITH
When talking about clothes, do you feel the same?
Totally, for example, I've had these jeans for a very long time. I printed on them and made them new for me. And then I was wearing something that the other kids at school didn’t have, but I took something that I already had and altered it. I feel like that's something that we can all do together.
You know what I mean that's something that I used to do, I would take my old Levi's® and I would stitch them. And then I would make some new pants that no one's ever seen. You know what I mean? And I have this new swag, but it's really just all about old swag caught up and stitched together. So, that's what I like to do. Just wear things that are thrifted. And some of my favorite Levi's® are thrifted and probably older than me. It's cool to thrift, it's cool to wear the same clothes and is cool to be sustainable.
How can we create awareness about what it takes to make products?
I'd love to talk about that. I feel like for our generation right now transparency is the most important thing, and that’s just another reason that I love this Levi's® campaign saying: “we need to buy and make less clothes.” I personally really love that, you know? I think that's a message that is really important because it's true.
What should we ask ourselves when we’re about to buy something?
What's the carbon footprint of this product? Is there a carbon footprint on this product? And is there anything on the shelf, that has a lower carbon footprint? That is the most important thing. If it's a no, then the question will become: “Is there another store that has this product that has a lower carbon footprint than this?” If that’s also a no, then don't buy, and just use whatever you have at home, or buy it, and know you tried your hardest to find a T-shirt that is carbon negative. Then, there is also the opportunity if you can't find a carbon negative T-shirt, that you make the carbon negative T-shirt. And you take action.
You talk a lot about decarbonizing the atmosphere, but it seems distant from our day-to-day. Can you walk us through some examples of how people can help create this change through fashion?
If you want to have the lowest carbon footprint when it comes to what you wear and what you're buying, just wear the same clothes every single day. That is the easiest way. Don't buy new clothes and then drag it back to your house, just for you to wear it once, and then throw it away.
“I want to let people know that it's cool to thrift, it's cool to wear the same clothes and is cool to be sustainable”
- JADEN SMITH