pat stewart

#icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge – these hasthags look familiar? Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no internet, or contact with the outside world, chances are, you know exactly what these are. And the fact that you know is wonderful. It’s wonderful for all the ALS charities, and no doubt particularly meaningful for those that have been diagnosed with ALS. It means that the campaign is working and awareness is being raised.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells/motor neurons in the brain and the spinal cord. Also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” it’s a progressive degeneration of motor neurons that eventually leads to the atrophy of muscles in hands, arms, legs, as well as muscles that are used for swallowing and breathing. There is no middle ground for ALS. Best case, you’re completely paralyzed, and unable to breathe on your own. Worst case, is well, fatal. It’s a terrifying thought – the loss of muscle and living with inevitable paralysis. And so far, no cure has been found, nor a cause identified. That’s why donations and awareness are so imperative to furthering research for ALS.

Then along comes the Ice Bucket Challenge. And everyone is doing it. It’s a brilliant campaign, and an extremely successful one. In fact, all charities should have a campaign like this. So far, the ALS Association has received $79.7 million in donations compared to $2.5 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 25). The donations have come from existing donors and 1.7 million new donors. No doubt a direct effect of the ice bucket challenge. Despite criticisms that it’s become an over-glamorized “sensation,” that water is being wasted amidst a shortage of clean water in developing countries, and for those in California, that water is being used in the face of the drought — videos continues to flood our feeds and the donations keep flowing. Again, all superb news.

Initially, the videos I watched were great, until I started noticing that so many people were doing the challenge in front of their pools, on driveways next to their lawns, standing on a deck, etc., and it started to bother me why people aren’t trying to re-purpose the water. Especially when 780 million people lack access to clean water worldwide. Now, I’m no environmental warrior and I’m far from crunchy. I don’t cloth diaper my baby, and we don’t shy away from using paper plates around the house (especially since the birth of our baby). But we still try to be an eco-mindful household and we live our lives trying our best to minimize our carbon footprints. So when I see cycles of people pouring water over themselves, without any visible efforts to re-purpose, it bothers me.

There is nothing wrong with the challenge. In fact, if you go on the ALS Association’s website, it clearly states:

 ALS pic

I believe that the usage of water is clearly the responsibility of user. If you’re thinking about pouring a bucketful of ice water over yourself and you are standing in front of your pool, try standing IN the pool. You don’t need to submerge yourself, because (I get it), that would defeat the purpose of the challenge’s shock factor, but just stand ankle deep in the water so that your ice water at least lands in your pool. For the people that stand in driveways, next to their lawns, move over a few inches and stand ON the lawn. Or do the challenge standing in your flowerbed. Or stand in a plastic kiddie pool so you can catch the water and then re-purpose it (water some plants perhaps)? Or, go to the beach and ice yourself with sea water. The possibilities are endless, and it’s so easy.

Here’s a classy one by Sir Patrick Stewart:

And a thoughtful one by Matt Damon:

I’m far from posturing that saving a bucket of ice water can help solve the world’s water issue, or miraculously resolve California’s drought. I am, however, suggesting that there are ways we can make this challenge more eco-friendly, and good for the environment. Get creative, or simply, use some common sense. I know that I, for one, would definitely watch more videos if they were done with more eco-awareness and creativity. You could even raise awareness for both ALS and water shortage in the same video. Talk about efficiency.

So here you go ice bucketeers – keep on icing (and donating!!!), but I challenge YOU to make a good video, one that’s good for the environment. Do it in the most eco-friendly way possible and hashtag it #ecoalsicebucketchallenge. Let’s continue to raise awareness for ALS without detracting from other different, but equally important, issues.

P.S. Above all, whether or not you agree with my POV, please continue to help spread the word about ALS and donate! No amount is too little. Don’t wait until it hits too close to home…

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