2001 was a memorable year for Recycle Camp. The camp was able to cope with the massive amount of aluminum — approximately 70,000 cans were collected and CRUSHED! More importantly, the local high school was impressed with the amount of aluminum that Recycle Camp donated to them to help finance their prom. Approximately $650 worth of RECYCLED aluminum cans were donated to the high school to be cashed in.

Burning Man Recycle Camp is a completely volunteer-driven camp. In past years there were not enough people to make recycling run smoothly, and much of the work fell onto the shoulders of a very few. Between 2000 and 2001 some strategic moves were made to improve this. The position of Volunteer Coordinator (VC) was added. This allowed the Project Manager to focus on preparation and the big picture while the VC wrangled the workforce.

The Lamplighters cross-pollinated with the recyclers to help bolster their workforce. Monthly work parties were held from March to August pre-event to prepare the fleet of basket-clad art bikes for daily collection runs and brew the ever-important homemade beer, the hallmark of the camp. At the event Recycle Camp had more than one hundred volunteers help out. A philosophy of “volunteer reign” was created to help promote the idea of individual responsibility and increase the “fun factor” while crushing cans. The VC aggressively recruited, but once inspired let the volunteers (Recyclenauts) go at it, crushing those cans, making themselves at home and recruiting more people to join the effort while he chilled the mugs. Recyclenauts had fun playing with people on the street and interacting with burners who brought their cans.

Next year the Recyclenauts plan to evolve the public’s awareness about recycling aluminum to a point where burners bring their cans to the camp instead of Recyclenauts collecting from camps throughout the city. Although the Recycle Camp bike fleet is a huge draw for people and a major contributor to getting the word out about recycling, our dependency on the fleet must be minimized. The amount of maintenance on the bikes is an energy suck. We plan on recruiting a full time bike mechanic and improving our “can art” decor in camp. Recycle camp’s primary goal is to educate participants on proper garbage disposal at our event. Its secondary goal is to recycle aluminum cans and give the money to the local high school. The most important thing to know about Recycle Camp is we don’t want anyone’s garbage. Seriously. This is a is a problem every year. We don’t even really want your cans. The high schoolers want them. We just want to crush the buggers!

Read here for some tips on recycling and reducing trash at Burning Man.