Stop Hating on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

If you’re wondering why there are videos on the news and social media of people dumping buckets of ice water over their head, they’re doing it to raise awareness about ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea is that, if challenged, you either dump a bucket of ice water over your head, or you donate money to ALS research. Considering ALS has raised $17 million during the same period where last year they raised $1.3 million, I’d call this a rousing success.

But of course there are haters. Check this piece in The Washington Post:

The Ice Bucket Challenge – the charitable cause to raise money for ALS – is the current rage chilling American spines. The challenge offers participants two choices: 1) Donate $100 to help fight Lou Gehrig’s disease or 2) Dump a bucket of cold ice water over their heads. Many participants do both.

According to the New York Times, more than 1.2 million videos of people dumping water on their head have been posted to Facebook. I decided to calculate how much water has been consumed in the process.

If an average bucket contains 4 gallons of water, about 5 million gallons of water have dunked heads from coast to coast. That’s the equivalent of about 120,000 baths or, in weather terms, over half an inch of rain falling on a 300 acre slab of land. Think of a summer downpour dousing the National Mall, or for west-coasters, Disneyland.

Four gallons of water poured over one’s head does not exactly equal a national emergency, although if you live in California where there’s a drought, it should probably get you beaten to a pulp. Per the Washington Sanitary Commission, here are some common activities and how many gallons of water they cost:


So basically, the water cost is easily recaptured in shortening shower times, reducing the amount of times you flush (I know, yucky), or using the dishwasher or laundry machines less. These, honestly, are all things we should be doing because fresh water is a precious resource and we need to treat it as such. In this case, I just find it difficult to get worked up about.

1 thought on “Stop Hating on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

  1. I completely agree. A shower uses about 50 gallons of water (for a short shower!)*. How many people – who take daily showers, sometimes lingering longer than 5 whole minutes in the shower – are suddenly complaining about wasting water?? I find it disingenuous to get upset about people “wasting” water (and in the process raising $17M!?) when I’m quite sure all these same people take showers, flush every time, use a machine to wash their laundry, etc etc etc…

    *for cold hard numbery stats:

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