No one would deny amount of positive awareness the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” has raised for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, but some are criticizing it for wasting water, especially in drought-stricken areas like California.
Jason Ruiz for the Long Beach Post drafted a quick breakdown of just how much fresh, potable water could be tossed in the challenge (emphasis added):
To put the waste this campaign has caused into simple terms, let’s just assume everyone is using a five gallon bucket. Now multiply that number by the more than 1.2 million videos shared on Facebook since June 1. Based on that assumption (5 x 1,200,000), over 6 million gallons of water have been poured out in the name of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The average American household uses 320 gallons per day, which means that based on this estimation, nearly 19,000 homes’ daily water usage has been wasted. And that’s not even taking into account that videos posted online often depict multiple people, sometimes even entire sororities or fraternities, taking part in the ice bucket challenge, often using more than one bucket per video.
Now some of these people take the challenge on grassy areas, which could benefit plants. Others took it to the next level to make sure no water was wasted. Songwriter Carole King, for example, stood in a creek and dumped a bucket of ice and stream water over her head so it would go straight back into its natural environment:
Others like actor Charlie Sheen took going “green” literally:
While a satirical article suggested that some Californians were getting fined for wasting water in the challenge (no, that’s not true), Ruiz asked “why not fine?”
“Raising money for disease research is a noble goal, and in a world where this sort of research is sadly under-funded, it’s an integral part of the process,” Ruiz wrote in the Long Beach Post. “People should be altruistic but not at the cost of contributing to the arrogant waste of a vital and diminishing natural resource. The fact that the ALS Association has reported a near $12 million dollar boost in donations is great, but whatever happened to being silently generous and putting the focus on the charity instead of the donor?
“Let’s continue to give to medical research but stop taking so thoughtlessly from nature. As much as human existence will depend on the improvement of modern medicine, it will also rely on our efforts to be rational about our natural resource consumption.”
The Los Angeles Times pointed out that the #droughtshaming hashtag used on Twitter, usually reserved for people with sprinklers that run onto concrete and similar cases, has been used to shame some Ice Bucket Challenge acceptors as well.
Matthew Herper for Forbes wrote that while, like most Internet memes, this challenge “naturally brings out the contrarians,” but he explained how in the end “they’re wrong” and highlighted how the Ice Bucket Challenge is working.
As of Tuesday, the ALS Association had received $22.9 million in donations in less than a month. During the same time period last year, the foundation raised less than $2 million.
“Our top priority right now is acknowledging all the gifts made by donors to The ALS Association,” Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of the ALS Association, said in a statement. “We want to be the best stewards of this incredible influx of support. To do that, we need to be strategic in our decision making as to how the funds will be spent so that when people look back on this event in ten and twenty years, the Ice Bucket Challenge will be seen as a real game-changer for ALS.”