Recycle Camp had another fantastic year at Burning Man 2002! In fact some people have described it as our best year ever. We set up camp on prime real estate, right across from the Center Camp Café. We had six hard-core Recyclenauts on the playa by the morning of Tuesday, August 20. More Recyclenauts camped and worked with us in 2002 than in any other year, 22 total. At least 12 of the volunteers were first-timers. We had camp set up on schedule and started collecting and CRUSHING cans at 10 am on Monday, August 26. As usual, hundreds of Black Rock citizens stopped by each day and volunteered to help collect and CRUSH the cans. The week went by without incident, and fun was had by all.

By Monday, September 2, we had collected, CRUSHED, and bagged over 80,000 aluminum cans, which we delivered to Gerlach School. That donation provided about $675 for the school. Also, fewer participants left us their garbage than in years past. This misunderstanding of our role has always been a serious problem for our camp and a hard one to get people to understand.

Recycle Camp, like almost all of Black Rock City, is driven completely by volunteers. The 2002 event brought some new energy to the camp in the form of a new Project Manager. A volunteer from 2001, he had recycling in his blood. Teamed up with a veteran Volunteer Coordinator, he was ready to help perpetuate the primary goal of Recycle Camp: To educate participants in proper waste disposal. Oh, and to CRUSH the cans. A new Recycled Music Lounge was added to the camp for 2002, featuring an underwater theme and Recycled live performances: captured in time, from such artists as Jerry Garcia, The Grateful Dead, Phish, The Who, Pearl Jam, The Indigo Girls, and The String Cheese Incident. The lounge added a new environment for our volunteers to get out of the sun, enjoy a beverage, listen to some good music, and relax.

Recycle Camp’s plan for the future includes building another crushing machine, maybe even two. Other plans call for spending some time at the DPW work ranch in the early spring to work on organizing our containers and their contents and to work on a new design for the bike-carts. All volunteers are welcome to join us, of course. Recycle Camp still plans to spread the word among participants to sort their recycling and bring the cans to us, we feel that the bike-carts are such an integral part of our theme and its history that we need to have a dozen or so good, functional carts to help spread that word.

Also on the drawing board is a plan that has grown from roots in the Earth Guardians. It is a simple idea-to visit all registered theme camps, and as many as possible nonregistered camps, and talk with residents about their recycling and waste-reduction efforts. These visits would educate participants if necessary, congratulate them if warranted, and award the outstanding camps with Recycle Camp stickers to show off their green status. We are still looking for a dedicated bike mechanic to join our volunteer ranks. No worries, though, because we still have a tight relationship with RE:Cycle Camp, also known as BRC Bike Repair & Bait Shop. We were again neighbors this year, and it worked out well as usual.

Be sure to visit Recycle Camp on the playa next year and read here for some tips on recycling and reducing trash in Black Rock City.

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