By now, you’ve probably witnessed your college roommate, your sister-in-law, your accountant, your best frenemy, your favorite celebrity
, and that guy/girl you went on one terribly awkward date with in 2010 but for some reason are still friends with on Facebook pour a bucket of icy cold water over their respective noggins in an effort to raise awareness — and, ideally, encourage research-earmarked donations — of motor neurone disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or, as it's better known in the United States, Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But have you seen any ALS Ice Bucket Challenge participants dump toilet water over their heads?
Leave it to indoor plumbing-eschewing
actor Matt Damon to not only accept the challenge (presented to him by Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Affleck) but also draw attention to his own cause: providing the residents of developing communities in Asia, Africa, Central America, and beyond with clean drinking water and safe means of sanitation. To achieve this, the Water.org
co-founder collected water from “various toilets” around his house before doing the deed.
What’s more Damon, who made a contribution to an ALS-related organization in addition to pouring (fresh) toilet water over his head, also acknowledges the H2O-centric feel-good campaign’s unfortunate timing
considering the getting-worse-and-worse drought situation in California.
“It posed kind of a problem for me, not only because there's a drought here in California," Damon explains in his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video t
hat was recently uploaded to Water.org’s YouTube channel. "But because I co-founded Water.org, and we envision the day when everybody has access to a clean drink of water — and there are about 800 million people in the world who don't — and so dumping a clean bucket of water on my head seemed a little crazy."
Damon continues: “For those of you, like my wife, who think this is really disgusting, keep in mind that the water in our toilets in the West is actually cleaner than the water that most people in the developing world have access to. So as disgusting as this may seem, hopefully it will highlight the fact that this is a problem, and together we can do something about it.”
Tom Brady, Bono and George Clooney — the ball, or bucket rather, is in your court.
A high-impact example of hashtag activism that marries social media-based look at me! look at me!
antics with old-fashioned charitable giving, the hugely viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has resulted in both increased public awareness of the debilitating, somewhat obscure disease and record-shattering contributions to organizations such as the ALS Association. It's also garnered some criticism
for, among other things, encouraging people to go buck wild with their kitchen taps and garden hoses. It’s tricky one — yes, by its very nature, the Ice Bucket Challenge is wasteful (but not as nearly as wasteful as neglecting to fix a leaky faucet or letting a sprinkler run 24/7). But it’s also wasteful for a worthy cause.
If you, like Damon, want to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge but feel conflicted about the whole “water thing,” the inimitable Umbra Fisk over at Grist has a few suggestions
. Why not drench yourself with water collected from the morning’s shower or stand in a kiddie pool and use the captured water to irrigate your vegetable garden? Heck, these statement-making gents
even used dirt instead of frigid water to get the point across. Or, of course, you could just skip the challenge altogether and quietly make a difference by donating
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