Greening Your Burn

Table of Contents

Greening Your Camp

So you want to green your Burning Man camp? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you represent a massive village, a medium-sized theme camp, or stand alone as a camp of one, there are many ways that you can make your camping experience at Burning Man more environmentally friendly.

The most important thing you can do is to shift your perspective. We’ll give you all kinds of practical advice, tips and tricks, but the most valuable piece of advice is to look at everything in your planning process with a green perspective. The first step is to stop — and think. Learn and consider the 6 R’s – Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Restore.

With those in mind, how can you do things differently? Think about that question from the beginning through to the end of your playa experience.

Think about how you get to the playa, with all your stuff. Consider ride sharing to reduce the number of cars going to and from the playa. Got a lot of stuff in your camp? Coming from far away? Maybe you could band together with other folks near you who would want to go in on a truck. In the end, it saves you money, and reduces the gas you’ll use, and the emissions and pollution you’ll create. You can find likely candidates through your regional contact or on the eplaya.

We’ve compiled some transportation tips just for you.

Think about materials you use to build your camp. Rather than using materials you might use once and discard, consider designing camp structures and elements that can be assembled, disassembled and reused year after year.

Rather than buying new construction materials, consider using recycled, repurposed or reclaimed materials. Do some research and explore the options for obtaining repurposed materials in your area. Or seek out somebody on the ePlaya or elsewhere that might have a dome or other infrastructure they’re dying to get rid of.

If you must burn elements of your camp, do not paint or treat them with toxic materials that would be released into the atmosphere when burned. And, if you must burn, consider purchasing carbon offsets to counter what you’re putting into the atmosphere.

At the very least, don’t bring anything to the playa that you aren’t able to take back with you. Consider inflatable furniture, or a metal-framed futon, which can be disassembled to fit compactly in a car and reused next year. Every year, tons of couches are left behind on the playa. Some people try to burn them, which is about the worst playa offenses you can commit. Please don’t do it.

Energy and Lighting
Power and light are an integral part of almost every camp. Many people take it for granted that you have to run a generator and lights to illuminate your space. Consider a bio-fuel generator rather than a gas one. Share generator power with your neighbors!

If you do just one thing with regard to lighting, please don’t use glowsticks! They’re one-time use, they don’t last long, they aren’t recyclable and they add toxic materials to landfills. If you need to illuminate yourself on the playa, consider a battery or solar-powered LED light string, EL wire, or reflective tape.

Gray Water, Composting and Recycling
Reducing waste starts at home. Whether it’s food and product packaging, tags, labels, boxes or whatever, get rid of as much packaging as possible before you leave for the playa.

Bring perishables sparingly and use them at the beginning of your stay on the playa so they don’t go bad. Learn more about composting and better ways to handle your garbage on playa, including how to reduce the overall amount of trash you generate.

Finally, dumping grey water (any water that contains or is mixed with anything other than pure water) on the playa is not only bad for the environment, and bad form, but it’s illegal. Learn about techniques for easily managing and getting rid of gray water.

Leave No Trace!
Contrary to popular belief, Leave No Trace is NOT something you do at the end of your stay on the playa. In fact, it starts before you leave for the playa, because that’s when you develop your plan, pick up supplies like magnet rakes and other LNT supplies, and set your end-of-event line sweep plan and schedule. It’s also when you carefully consider any items you’re bringing that could become MOOP.

It continues when you hit the playa, before you drive in your first rebar stake, because that’s when you place objects such that they’ll stay out of and/or resist the wind. It continues into your construction process, when you place tarps below construction projects to catch stray nails, wood chips, metal shavings and sawdust.

Leave No Trace takes place every moment of the event, when you never let it hit the ground, you MOOP as you go, and you even pick up other people’s MOOP. And you always carry a MOOP bag with you, so that you can play your collective part of this community, helping to keep it the largest Leave No Trace event in the world.


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