In the summer of 2014, the ice bucket challenge took social media by storm. Thousands of people dumped freezing cold water on themselves in the name of ALS awareness, posting the results in videos for all their friends to see. Now, there’s a new bucket challenge gaining traction among Louisiana fishers. It’s called the 5 gallon bucket challenge, and it aims to eliminate waste from local waters.
According to Fox affiliate WVUE, the challenge launched on Facebook just over a week ago. The idea came from Leonard Bergeron, a fisher based in Houma, Louisiana. Bergeron started bringing a 5 gallon bucket with him on fishing trips, filling the bucket with trash clustered around the water bank before he cast any lines. He wanted others to join him, so he posted a video to Facebook and YouTube explaining the basics.
“If you’re fishing on the bank [and] you see a lot of trash, pick it up, throw it in the bucket,” he said in the footage. “Post it. Make a video.”
Ryan McGittigan, a fisher from Chauvin, soon took up the challenge. He’s posted pictures of buckets brimming with plastic bottles and Styrofoam plates multiple times, earning the attention of local Louisiana media.
“The closer you get to populated areas, the worse it gets,” McGittigan told WVUE. “A lot of our food comes from our waters, we drink from it, kids play in the bayous and lake. We are Louisianans. A clean waterway looks better for our tourist industry.”
The challenge is now circulating on Facebook groups dedicated to Louisiana fishing. Over on LAFB Inshore, members are sharing videos and photos of their bucket expeditions. Some are even taking the challenge to the seas, canvassing the water with their boats and picking up floating debris, much like the “trash fishing” father and son who made headlines in Detroit.
“Quite frankly, most of the trash is ours,” Jason Toombs wrote on the LAFB Inshore group page. “It’s oil bottles, cleaning supplies, crab corks, trout line markers, drinks, and other trash that’s left behind by fishermen… This is a challenge, that I believe, we as sportsmen need to share the hell out of.” Toombs, along with his friend Travis Trosclair and a young boy, can be seen collecting plastic bottles out of the water with nets, grabbing soda cans off the nearby rocks, and pacing the parking lot for extra trash in a series of videos on Facebook.
But you don’t have to be a fisher to participate. The 5 gallon bucket challenge can be adapted to almost any outdoor activity, from hiking to picnicking in the park. The people who’ve created and popularized the challenge hope it encourages nature lovers to take a few minutes to clean the land they’re enjoying and leave it better than they found it.
“I know it doesn’t seem like a lot but if enough people take the challenge, we can make a difference,” McGittigan said in a Facebook post.