Earth Guardians

LNT Training, Bandana Screenings, MOOP Bag Sewing Bees and Evapotron Workshops

Our 2013 LNT annual training included many participants including staff, theme camp LNT leads and volunteers. We engaged many non-Burners at San Francisco Earth Day to try their hand at fabric painting on MOOP bags and explained how the bags are used at the event. In addition, we had three combined bandana and MOOP bag creation events with Grey-B-Gone Evapatron workshops. These events allow us to produce many MOOP bags, bandanas and butt holders to provide to participants collecting MOOP during the event and work on camp projects. Our grey water guru pre-bought all of the supplies, and led the participants though the steps they needed to make their own Gray-B-Gon. The increased supply of MOOP bags provided an excellent example of reuse (as well as a clean-up tool) since all of our bags were made from old pants and neckties which we collected throughout the year, cut and sewed and screened into bags. We are already collecting pants and ties for 2014.

Internet Outreach / Blog /Facebook

In addition to our continued web and email outreach on LNT practices, this year we supplied edits to the grey water section of the Burning Man web site and created a new Earth Guardian Blog page ( The blog linked to our Facebook page, which continued to grow with postings on ways to incorporating LNT and green practices in our “friends” daily lives and photos of many of our events.

Outreach In Black Rock CiTY

Earth Guardian Pavilion Activities

Activities this year included plastic reduction and chemistry, geology and LNT, sustainability and Black Rock NCA talks, MOOP-free fashion, yoga classes and ongoing games of Man-opoly. All of the activities were fun and offered the opportunity for visitors to check out our displays on Black Rock and LNT/green practices. Our well-stocked (thanks to donations) water bar continues to be a draw and refuge for camp members, volunteers, and casual visitors, while presenting an opportunity to explain LNT practices.

BLM LNT Compliance Outreach

In 2013, we geared up and supported a daily on-the-ground LNT compliance outreach effort with BLM, friends of Black Rock, Rangers and ESD on playa. This effort allowed volunteers to pair up with BLM staff and cooperatively engage participants in dialogs concerning burn barrels, grey and black water spills and oil spills. These discussions confirmed to participants that both Burning Man and BLM value compliance around these issues and served to demonstrate to BLM the level of participant understanding. The effort also allowed BLM to collect data to quantify the compliance efforts and the many additional LNT contacts we had through this successful outreach coordination.

Plastic Footprint Project

This year we began a new outreach focused reduction of waste, with an emphasis on reduction of disposable plastic. We engaged Beth Terry, author of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too to help us develop blog posts and tips to reduce participants use of disposable plastic. To further support these efforts, our volunteers created a large plastic foot made out of plastic bottles and bags to communicate the concept of a plastic footprint. We placed this in front of the pavilion during the event and it has continued to travel to towns around Lake Tahoe to raise awareness of plastic pollution and alternatives since the event. We also created a new poster and had Beth and Rebecca Braslau give talks and workshops on playa on plastic reduction and chemistry.

Nature Walks

Earth Guardians have been leading groups of participants on nature walks out on the wilderness areas outside of the playa during the event for many years. Again this year we did not have any nature walks and instead did pavilion talks on the NCA and area history, biology and geology. We are considering bringing back the nature walks in 2014 since they are a great introduction to the area for participants and help to instill a strong appreciation for the area. However, we must balance this with the cost of renting a van for the effort and the significant volunteer time needed to coordinate and lead the walks. We continue to creatively work to instill a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural surroundings in participants to encourage participants to become environmental stewards. We hope to engage Friends of Black Rock to brainstorm ideas to support these goals in 2014.

Model Camp Contest / Theme Camp Outreach

This Earth Guardian LNT/green Model Camp contest recognizes the best examples of Leave No Trace and Green Camping practices throughout the city. Overall, there continues to be strong support for LNT and sustainable practices for our core green theme camps. Winning camps earn two tickets to Burning Man 2014 and special recognition in the Earth Guardian web pages. The 2013 Camp of the Day winners are ….. In 2014, we intent to take a year off of the Model Camp contest to re-evaluate the contest and determine how to modify the contest to reach a larger portion of theme camps with positive reinforcement.


Earth Guardians continued our efforts to deMoop the trash fence daily and continue to enjoy the effort and connections we make with other Burners doing their part. We noticed a significant increase in the use of feathers this year, with many participants referencing the JRS as indicating that “feathers were OK this year”. Other MOOP we continue to collect were mostly things that are blowable and easy to lose, like plastic bags, sheets of paper and string, plastic drink cups. We can continue to address this issue by reviewing the Survival Guide so the LNT messages don’t get lost in the avalanche of other advice and rules.

Hot Spring Patrols

We did not experience any problems with violators at the hot springs in 2013. Again this year we had great synergy working with the Black Rock Rangers on hot spring patrols with the drivers organizing their shifts, leading the onsite driver training and installing shade structures at each hot spring after our initial pre-event coordination. We assisted with driver training and signed up volunteers for each of the morning, afternoon and overnight shifts. We continue to work with drivers over the year on radio training and certification. We are very grateful for the Ranger’s continued assistance with this joint effort since we rely on drivers specially trained to drive the complicated route on playa, coordinate with Gate and Perimeter staff and must be able to communicate and educate the hot springs volunteers on their duties as they are transported to their shifts.

Submitted by,

Karina O’Connor