The Inquisitive Olive

TIO: CJ Pennington

TIO: CJ Pennington

The Inquisitive Olive: CJ Pennington

I’ve been so impressed to learn about Proud Source Water – a brand that’s responsibly sourcing natural spring water and bringing it to consumers in aluminum bottles that are infinitely recyclable. This week for our Inquisitive Olive series, we caught up with Proud Source Water’s President and co-founder, CJ Pennington. CJ is clearly passionate about protecting our planet and can teach us about the power of being in nature. Based in Idaho, he enjoys the great outdoors as a source of self-care. CJ shared with us that he works with several members of his family on the Proud Source brand. He also knows how to make one of our favorite Greek desserts - loukoumades - and he's actually a 1/4 Greek! We know that the high percentage of centenarians living in the 5 Blue Zones (like Ikaria, Greece) tend to have strong families and communities around them. Maybe CJ is destined for longevity!

CJ Pennington is the Co-Founder + President of Proud Source. He is also an architect and engineer with a passion for solving problems through sustainable design.

Father, Husband, DIY Enthusiast, and Musician

Find CJ Online: @proudsourcewater @proud_source


Favorite food?  A simple breakfast made up of eggs over medium, potatoes, toast, decaf coffee.

Favorite self-care treatment?  Road trip.

Favorite place to travel?  In the states- Moab, UT. Internationally - Greece.

Favorite part of your day?  Every day, getting my son out of his crib in the morning. Pure happiness.


What’s your passion? What makes you feel most alive?

I feel most alive venturing off the beaten track. There is something thrilling about being deep in the outdoors. The feeling of knowing you are on your own with no connection to the outside world forces you to be present and to really enjoy every moment. The other day, I was 45 minutes north of our bottling plant staying in what most would consider an extremely remote cabin. It was around midnight on a super cold clear Wednesday night and the stars were breathtaking. I sat there for 30 minutes in the cold 15 degree temperature taking in the moment. I walked away reminded of why I am passionate about fighting for our planet.

Where do you live, and what do you love about your home/hometown?

Boise, Idaho is home. The big draw is being surrounded by the beautiful outdoors. Yet, the people are also really special. The community has a special buzz, and I love that the people are kind to one another. It’s been a joy launching a mission-based business in Idaho.

You’re an expert—that’s why we’re interviewing you. Tell us about your wellness journey and credentials. 

I started my career as a practicing architect and engineer. In college, I discovered a passion for sustainability and problem solving. This led me to live a more thoughtful life. I began to think about my footprint / impact on a daily basis and how I could use good design to solve for simple environmental issues. This led me to building Proud Source. I was originally hired to design the bottling facility and offices. After visiting the small mountain town where the water was to be bottled, I felt like I could make a true difference in people’s lives by solving a local economic problem while addressing plastic pollution globally. The challenge was perfect.

What inspired you to pursue your area of expertise? 

I have a big and lively family. Without question, they deserve credit for providing the original source of inspiration.

Drop us with some knowledge. What’s the one fact, insight, or story about your area of expertise you’d like to share?

I have three to share that I found very sobering when I was started Proud Source:

    • 3% of the world’s water is freshwater
    • 64% of bottled water is just tap water bottled
    • 8% of plastic gets collected and recycled in the world


What values did the people you consider family instill in you?

There are many! But if I had to choose - love, tradition, and hard work.

Who do you call family?

I have a pretty small circle; therefore, I consider all that are close to me family.

How do you stay connected with loved ones?

We work together, spend weekends together, take vacations together, etc. I am fortunate enough to get to work with my brother, sister-in-law, mother and father.


What’s your favorite place to unwind?

I enjoy road trips. On the road you will find a good mix of outdoor scenery, conversation, music, etc. It’s one of those activities that demands you to be 100% present. They are best spent with friends and/or family. Also, it’s fun to discover fun stops along the way- it might be a funny town name, state welcome sign, or a harvest moon sitting on the horizon. I highly recommend a road trip these days, especially since the pandemic makes other forms of travel tough.

Tell us about a time when you didn’t feel well—physically, emotionally, or spiritually. What action steps did you take to heal?

Earlier in my life, I had two go through a few surgeries over a two-year period, forcing me to miss out on all of the outdoor activities I had been used to enjoying. It was a tough time physically, emotionally, spiritually because I lost a big part of my identity – enjoying outdoor sports. I had to find a way to fill this gaping hole in my life with something that wasn’t physically taxing. I have always been passionate about music, so I picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play. I still play today and it remains a wonderful escape for me.


Have you been to Greece?

Yes! I am ¼ Greek. My great grandma and grandpa on my father’s side of the family came to America from the island of Samos!

If so – did you find a product, dish or drink you loved? Tell us about it!

I was raised on my Nana’s Moussaka and Pastitsio. From a young age, I would work over a hot pan of oil crafting Loukoumades by hand – the secret is keeping the spoon clean and using just enough water. I am very proud of my Greek heritage.