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Who started the ice bucket challenge?

September 05, 2014 at 5:19 PM

You will have seen, via social networks, people apparently randomly, and entirely voluntarily, pouring buckets of ice water over themselves.  You may have wondered what on earth they were doing.  Alternatively, you may know what they are doing.  Further, you might know what they are doing and, in fact, been asked to do the same.  Crumbs, you may even be reading this completely drenched, with a discarded and now empty bucket lying nearby; in which case... towel yourself down, you’ll catch a cold!

Pouring_bucket_of_water_over_head.jpgAs the one constant in this – along with the water and the rather soggy victim – is the plastic bucket, we thought we would take this opportunity to explain what this is all about.  Further, if this is something you have been asked to do, we will add some things that might be worth considering.

So, the stunt started in America (where else!) as a way of raising funds for motor neurone disease, specifically amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  The idea is that you are nominated to undertake the challenge, you raise money - as well as awareness - in completing that challenge (which you will no doubt post on Facebook), and you can then nominate the next person you would like to see covered in ice cold water.  And so on and so on.   The challenge has gone viral, spreading all around the world and taking in people such as Justin Bieber, Benedict Cumberbatch... even Kermit The Frog!

One such celebrity is the American actor Matt Damon, who was nominated by the actor Ben Affleck, (supposedly!) a good friend of his.  Damon actually took the dare one step further, and in so doing highlighted one of the inherent problems with the challenge.  Some participants have used the challenge to highlight the lack of adequate clean water for an estimated 800 million people in deprived areas of the planet.  And this, of course, raises an interesting point... in the process of highlighting the lack of drinking water you actually waste perfectly good drinking water, which only serves to raise irony, rather than awareness.

Damon, always known for his charitable endeavours (and suffering ridicule for it, for instance in the “Team America” movie), circumvented such criticism by commandeering water from each and every toilet in his house.  If the notion of drenching yourself in ice cold water leaves you cold (as it were)... and the thought of that water coming from the toilet even more so... Damon makes the very important point that even toilet water in the west is more sanitary than everyday water for many people around the world.

What's been in that bucket?!

We would also like to make a further point, if you have been lucky enough to be nominated - or are thinking of getting involved - with this viral phenomenon sweeping the world.  If the thought of toilet water is bad enough, that is possibly nothing compared to what might have previously been in the bucket you choose to use.  If asked, please don’t grab any old bucket from your shed and garage, pour out whatever chemicals or liquids have been stored there, then proceed to pour water into it and chuck that heady brew over your own head. 

Rather, if you are going to indulge in this icy experiment, please do ensure the water you use is clean and more importantly, that the bucket itself is in a good state, and hasn't been used for storing any dangerous chemicals.  You want to make your friends laugh, not cringe at the fact your hair has turned green.

The ALS challenge is a wonderful idea.  And of course there is a pay off.  Matt Damon paid the favour on to George Clooney, Bono and American footballer Tom Brady.  Who would you choose?

Category: plastics news

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