Located in Center Camp, Recycle Camp collects thousands of aluminum cans, crushes them, recycles them and donates the proceeds to the Gerlach School. Recycle Camp is run completely by volunteers who share their eco vibe – Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Restore – with all the participants in Black Rock City.
Burning Man 2007, The Green Man- this was definitely our year. Once again, returning Recyclenauts made it happen. Early on in the set-up week, those of us on-site were challenged with key players not showing up. By Friday we had an energetic set-up crew ready to get it together. We were able to erect all three of our domes in one afternoon, a record for Recycle Camp. An unfortunate set of circumstances caused our two scheduled carpenters to not show up, and as a result the core team was faced with the challenge of finding a carpenter on-site that could step in and help us get our structures built.
It turns out that we could not ask for a better community to be a part of when faced with such a challenge. Within 24 hours of the start of our search, we found a genuine hero from the Cafe team. He worked on his Café duties during the day and came to Recycle Camp in the evenings. Without his help we would have never completed the structures in time. We were able to complete our first ever Recycle Camp deck, a 20 x 24 foot deck that spanned between our two shipping containers. Atop the deck we placed the 17-foot chill space dome, using human power to raise the dome to the 10-foot high platform. We were also able to build the newly designed structure for our can-crushing workspace. A set of four, 7-foot tall “Gates”, was erected, and the 24-foot workspace dome was lifted into place- again using only human power. It was a completely new look for Recycle Camp and we had the hottest looking workspace on the playa. We raised our kitchen structure and the community dome, where we all meet and eat at Recycle Camp. The community kitchen ran smoothly once again. Our kitchen manager was able to step back a bit and let others contribute as more volunteers signed up to cook meals for everyone, and we all enjoyed some good eats.
We were up and running right on schedule, Monday morning. Our first participant delivered a bag of cans just before 9 AM. She was an adorable little burner; she couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. She really liked the old tricycles that we have out in front of the camp as decoration and to define our front border. We let her take one with a little trailer to ride around and collect cans. This is the future of Burning Man in action, folks.
Recycle Camp represented again as a Leave No Trace Model Theme Camp on the ‘Green’ Tour 2007, organized by BRC Earth Guardians. This is of course, an honor for Recycle Camp, and is a goal for us each year. In 2007, we not only had examples of reusable structures and rock star recycling & waste management to show off, we also became the very first BM infrastructure camp to voluntarily remove itself from the Center Camp power grid. Thanks to a generous gift from a fantastic group of first time volunteers to Recycle Camp, we had a small solar array, mounted on a trailer, set up in our camp and it was providing power for the entire camp the entire week. This included our community kitchen, our sound system & all of our lighting. One small step for Recycle Camp, one major step for the Burning Man Project.
Recycle Camp did what we do best, collecting and crushing aluminum cans. And though it felt like we had a slower start than in previous years we once again collected over 120,000 cans to be donated to the Gerlach High School at the close of the event — approximately two tons of aluminum that fetches about $800 for the school after expenses. This has been said before but is worth mentioning again, this donation funds the High School Prom each year and the kids really do appreciate it. The Recycle Camp Manager was reminded of this when the School was looking for the bags of cans behind the Principal’s house in Gerlach, and they never saw them arrive. This was because he tried to do something special this year. The whole BM project really stepped up recycling collection in 2007 and Recycle Camp stepped up at the close of the event, and helped load a large portion of what was collected into a semi trailer. There was additional room in the trailer so he decided that we would put all of the cans in the trailer and recycle them for the school this year. It was the Green Man year after all, and I thought it would be ‘greener’ to transport all of the recycling together. Due to some crazy circumstances beyond our control, two months after the event, the trailer still had not been transported to Reno and the cans were still inside. When he received the call from the school asking about the cans; plan B went into effect and the students and parents organized as in previous years and pulled all the bags of cans out of the trailer and took care of getting them to the recycling center. We are proud to give back to the local community and help fund the High School Prom, all while being a voice for ‘greening’ in Black Rock City.
The Green Man theme has come and gone and now it is time for looking forward. Recycle Camp will always be ‘greening the burn’ and working hard to be leaders in the new, ‘greener’, Black Rock City. If this resonates with you at all, we strongly urge you to come find us in cyberspace and out on the playa to see how you can get involved and play a role in this exciting community.
Optimistically Submitted by,
Paul Schreer AKA Blue
Recycle Camp project manager