Making A Difference

Water for the World

Jon Olafsson (OPM 24, 1996)

Jon Olafsson (OPM 24, 1996), a former music industry executive and media mogul, is chairman and cofounder of Icelandic Glacial, the world’s first certified carbon-neutral manufacturer of natural spring water. In this video, he talks about the company’s goal to both sell their product responsibly but also to give it away in times of critical need.

“I think I can say that most Icelanders are people who really think about the environment. I’m working with a bottled water company, and a lot of people might say ‘bottled water is not that good for the environment.’ That’s why we decided, when we started the company, to make a difference, to make sure that we would start the company from day one as a green company.

“We were the first beverage company in the world to be certified carbon neutral, and we have a 100 percent sustainable source that we work from.

“Icelandic Glacial is now available in 24 countries around the world. Our distributor here in the United States is Anheuser Busch; we have been working with them since 2007. We also do very well up in Canada and in Asia and the Middle East.

“We don’t only want to sell water to the world, but we also want to give water to the world. And it’s important that we take the responsibility that we have, because we have a lot of water; and when you have a lot of water, you have to be able to give as you can also sell. For example, when the earthquake hit Haiti, we were the first water on the ground. We were there within 24 hours and we gave over $1 million worth of water to them at the time. I think we were the biggest donator of water at the time.

“At Harvard, it was probably the best time of my life. I learned a lot and I realized how important the work we do is, not only to ourselves but also to the environment and to the communities that we work in.”

(Published January 2016)