Jrs V11 I15


Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 11, Issue 15

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OK, settle in for this one and get your prep lists and pencils out: this JRS is a chock-full-of-links-and-tips Environmental Post from the Earth Guardians about ways to plan and strive to leave no trace at Burning Man.  Burners old and new, take heed to the wisdom of years on the playa…we’re turning your screens over to the EG’s this evening.

PLEASE NOTE: we are in the process of doing some updating, improving, normalizing and migration of every piece of LNT/Environmental/Preparation content on our site.  This effort spans across several sections, and we’re still hard at work on making it great for you.  Some links included in the below text have been very freshly updated or moved.  If you see duplication of info as you navigate the site, please know that we’re swinging hammers behind the scenes to streamline and improve ALL of our environmental content for your preparation pleasure.

Big thanks to the Earth Guardians for sharing their massive wealth of knowledge and information with the community!



Once you’ve passed the Gate and the Greeters, you are already a participant and a contributor to a very large artwork: the wonderful disappearing city.  Leaving no trace of Black Rock City is enormously significant – that’s what gets us the OK to return to the playa every year – and it’s also a matter of simple details, one step at a time.  Being Green is not just associated with this year’s theme, but is the right thing to do to spread positive impacts beyond the playa.  If you put some these planning tips into your camp, your days on the playa will likely be easier, cleaner, happier and healthier.

The Earth Guardians have been collecting and recording LNT and Green tips for playa living.  Visit their website at: http://earthguardians.burningman.com

Here are the EG’s top ten LNT and Green reminders













It takes thousands of people to create a disappearing city, and the how-to lore keeps growing.  The Earth Guardians collect good ideas from camps and citizens, mix in Leave No Trace principles, and pass them along.  Not only will you reduce the Matter Out Of Place (“MOOP”), you’ll make your camp life easier and more pleasant.

Leave No Trace Principles – We have embraced these seven LNT principles as the largest LNT event in the world.  The Leave No Trace Organization has more information on their website: http://www.lnt.org .

1.  Plan Ahead and Prepare
2.  Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3.  Dispose of Waste Properly
4.  Minimize Campfire Impacts
5.  Be Considerate of Other Visitors
6.  Leave What You Find
7.  Respect Wildlife


We have developed some Green Principles to help you bring Green thinking into your event planning.  Taking “green” into consideration means thinking about the effect each of your decisions has on the environment beyond the playa and choosing the least harmful option.

1.  Rethink and Reduce What We Purchase & Bring
2.  Conserve Energy & Reduce the Use of Fossil Fuels
3.  Reuse What We Can From Year to Year
4.  Recycle Everything Else – Aim for Zero Waste
5.  Coordinate With Our Neighbors to Share Resources
6.  Respect the Environment


LNT Principle 1 – Plan Ahead and Prepare

Pick a Leave No Trace team for your camp and develop a LNT plan.  These folks will work LNT into your planning and preparing, help set up the camp so that it doesn’t blow away, help to plan your camp’s cleanup and break-down ahead of time, figure out how to reduce waste (especially stinky trash), design gray water disposal, and identify what NOT to burn.  If you plan and ahead and prepare to LNT, you’ll have less to haul up to the playa, have a happier playa life and have less to clean-up at the end of the week


Minimize kitchen waste and clean-up by planning simple, low-dishwashing meals, repackaging and preparing food in advance.  Bring two-thirds the food you think you’ll need.  Repackage and prepare food in advance. Bring water in a big reusable plastic container and bring reusable cups, utensils, bowls or plates, not Styrofoam that will blow all over the playa.  Ask visitors to your camp to BYOM (bring your own mug) and take your own mug to the Center Camp Cafe.  A carabiner or shower hook easily secures it for transport around the City.  Many fashionable bars also appreciate BYOMers!

Separate and sort trash in your kitchen, including compost and recycling.  Collect food waste in a mesh bag.  The food will dry up, becoming light and nearly odorless.  Easy! Plan on burning paper and wood in a community burn platform.  Here’s food wisdom from a decade on the playa:


Plan your camp to minimize clean-up efforts.  Don’t wait until the end of the week to pick stuff up.  Clean as you go.  This will help you from getting overwhelmed by the mess and help keep trash from blowing out of reach.  Plan to seal the small amount of trash you have left in big plastic bags, or in five-gallon buckets with lids, to take home, or, if you must, drop off some trash in local landfills.



Green Principle 1 -Rethink and Reduce What We Purchase & Bring

What are you going to do to be sustainable at/to/from BRC in 2007 with your camp, in the camp’s art projects, in transportation, etc.? Taking “green” into consideration means thinking about the effect each of your decisions has on the environment and choosing the least harmful option. Things to take into consideration include the type and the materials being used, waste produced and energy consumed.

Use Greener Materials.  Consider using materials that can be reused or repurposed at home or at next year’s event.  Plan to use nontoxic, biodegradable, renewable and salvageable materials.  Select materials and decorations for your camp that lessen waste and are recyclable or reusable.  You’ll have less cost and less disposal headaches at the end of the event.  You’ll also save money when preparing for next year.

More on materials: http://burningman.com/environment/resources/materials.html

Plan to Reduce energy use, consider alternative sources and off-set carbon emissions.  Incorporate energy-efficient power and lighting.  Use alternative energy sources such as human, solar, wind, or biodiesel fuel.  Carpool and/or offset carbon emissions associated with transportation and energy (generators) and coordinate with sister camps to share transportation and energy generation.


LNT Principle 2 -Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Winter rains help erase our tracks on the playa, but dust from driving affects people right away.  Keep auto speeds under 5 mph in Black Rock City when you travel to your camp upon arrival, and drive only on obvious, marked roads.

Do not consider taking a dip in the Hot Springs during the event.  These delicate ecosystems cannot handle the volume of visitors that use during the event would create.

Design your Camp Structures and Shelters to be LNT.  Plan your structure to be able to withstand the extreme conditions on the playa and be reusable.  Stake your tents and structures so they will stay secure in the heavy wind, rain, and dust storms that are sudden and usual on the playa.  Recycle Your Structure: Plan your camp around reusing your structure each year.  If you reuse and repurpose the basic framework for your camp’s structure, you can still reconfigure it to give your camp a new look and feel each year and save money!

Do not dig holes in the playa.  Small postholes used for structural support are the sole exception and must be properly tamped and tilled when you are finished with them.  Larger holes easily erode within a year’s time even when carefully backfilled.  They leave a visible mark and create a serious safety hazard.

Keep your vehicle from dripping oil or other fluids on to the playa. BLM did a study on this a few years ago and asked burners to use pans or other barriers under their cars, especially older cars/RV’s, to prevent drips.

Always use a potty for your body waste – not the playa.  Having a pee jug near your bed will cut down on trips to the potties.


Green Principle 2 -Conserve Energy & Reduce the Use of Fossil Fuels

Plan to conserve energy.  Reduce energy use and incorporate energy- efficient power and lighting.  Illuminate you camp with energy efficient light bulbs, LED’s or EL wire.  Use rechargeable batteries.  There are also many handy garden and tool lights that include solar cells.

New page on lighting at http://burningman.com/environment/resources/lighting.html

Use alternative energy sources (human, solar, wind, biodiesel).  The folks at the Alternative Energy Zone (http://www.aez.org ) have been living generator free for many playa years! If you must use a generator, consider biodiesel fuels instead of gasoline.

Get your car’s maintenance done on a regular basis.  A well maintained car produces lower emissions and is more dependable on the way to Black Rock City.  After you reduce, consider purchasing carbon off-sets from http://www.Coolingman.org to offset what remaining emissions you produce with transportation and energy (generators).  Their web site contains a handy spreadsheet you can use to calculate your carbon emissions.


LNT Principle 3 -Dispose of Waste Properly

If it doesn’t come out of your body it doesn’t go into the potty.

Only single-ply toilet paper and human waste can go in the potties.  Anything else can cause a clog when the toilet vendor empties the tank through a two-inch hose.  Otherwise we have unserviced potties, and that means trouble.

How will you dispose of your grey water from your kitchen and shower? Our permit from BLM does NOT allow us to dump grey water directly on the playa.  Camps can collect grey water and contract with the potty vendor, or take it to one of the RV dump stations along Interstate 80 after the event.  You could use a variety of techniques to evaporate and reduce grey water, or if you’re in a very small camp, with minimal dish and body-washing water, you might choose to treat your grey water: pour it through a filter (like a paint sieve), disinfect it with bleach, then, since it is treated, sprinkle it on your street to keep down dust. Learn more at: http://earthguardians.burningman.com/lnt_practices_water.htm

There are no trash cans in Black Rock City – so be prepared to take any trash you generate home with you and beware of the Hungry Wind.  Bring tethers, anchors, containers, and covers, to keep light stuff from blowing away.

When leaving Black Rock City, secure your load, especially your trash.  Don’t let your trash fly off your vehicle, and do not dump it on the side of the road or at a rest stop on the way home! Use an approved dumping facility or take or home with you.  Plan ahead before you even pack for the playa so you leave with a minimal amount of trash. Starting home, take a rest stop early; at the entrance gate, at a wide pullout, or maybe at the Empire store.  Check your load.  It is most likely to fail early in the trip.


Green Principle 3 -Reuse What We Can From Year to Year

Design your camp structures for reuse, easy deconstruction, storage and salvage.  Use screws instead of nails, reclaimed wood, and metal when possible.  If someone in your camp volunteers to store the structure and associated shade-cloth, you can spend more time and energy on a structure that will last for years.

Consider using materials that are reclaimed and can be reused or repurposed at home or at next year’s event.  You’ll save money before the event and have less cost and less disposal headaches at the end of the event.  You’ll also save money when preparing for next year.

Trashion is high fashion! Instead of going shopping, go to your closet or look to save items from going to the landfill for some styling playa fashions.  Check out trashion experts web site for inspiration : http://www.hautetrash.org/designers.html


LNT Principle 4 – Minimize Campfire Impacts – How do we burn responsibly and clean?

Burn Responsibly: Don’t Burn on the Unprotected Playa.  Burning directly on the alkaline playa BAKES the surface into a dark, hard brick-like material.  Use community burn barrels or a burn platform.

Reduce and Reuse: Fires are for celebration and spiritual connection, not places to dump garbage.  Low temperature burning produces toxic emissions, so minimize what you burn.  Recycle or reuse materials where you can.

Take reusable wood to a Burners with Borders recycle station instead of burning it! On Sunday and Monday, Burners Without Borders lumber recycling stations will be located near 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 at 100 feet from the Esplanade.  Full story: http://www.burningman.com/environment/blog/?p=22

Don’t Overload the Burn Platforms – Recycle Your Wood! Bring your extra wood and other camp building materials to re-use/salvage centers or to a Burners Wiithout Borders lumber recycling station, rather than burning or taking to a dump.  If you do burn, be sure the wood you place in the burn platform is well contained.  When the platforms are overloaded, burning wood can hit the playa and cause a burn scar.  Have tools on hand to break down and cut up larger pieces.

Burn Clean: Be careful to burn only clean (no paint) wood or paper! You can burn on one of the community burn platforms along the Esplanade, just don’t burn anything that is toxic! Carpets, cushioned furniture, PVC and other plastics release dioxins, formaldehyde, and other nasty stuff.  The community burn barrels and burn platforms are low to the ground, and produce smoke that is easily inhaled.  The low-temperature incomplete combustion emits toxic gases and particulates.  Do not put any trash into your burn barrels! Please check out http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/toxic.html for more information on the hazards associated with toxic fumes.

Participate – Each of us can play a part in protecting the health of our community and the incredible beauty of the playa.  Join the Toxic Avengers! If you want to volunteer to help educate our citizens about wood recycling and responsible ways to burn, email toxicavengers (at) burningman (dot) com, and please come by the Earth Guardians Pavilion at Esplanade and 5:45 during the event and sign up for our daily crusades or weekend citizen patrols.  We’ll be having a meeting on Friday at 1:00 to train new volunteers.


Green Principle 4 -Recycle Everything Else – Aim for Zero Waste

Plan to Recycle- Buy only aluminum cans and plan to dispose of the cans at Recycle Camp.  There are many good beers in cans (tip: several area stores in Reno/Sparks are stocking up big time on more kinds of canned beers this year so you can make the choice for cans over glass.  More info in future issues.) Check out http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/drinks.html to find some.  The more cans you can leave with Recycle camp, the less you have to take home! Be sure and separate any other recyclables (glass and plastic) at recycle centers near home.

Composting food waste not only reduces garbage but repurposes the waste to fertilizer.  Be sure and use a container with a tight lid for transporting the compost home.

Salvage, Reuse, and/or Recycling everything onsite, including camp construction and demolition waste.  Take the extra effort after Burning Man to bring your extra wood and other camp building materials to re-use/salvage centers, rather than burning or taking to a dump. Burners without Borders is planning to once again collect used, reusable, building materials at the end of the event at wood collection sites throughout the city.  Check the Green Map for locations.


Leave No Trace Principle 5 – Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Promote LNT neighborhoods.  Be proud of your neighborhood: work together with your neighbors to keep your part of the city clean.  Every year some camps get overwhelmed and need help.  The LNT principle, “Be considerate of Other Visitors,” in our city, includes helping neighbors to leave no trace.  Carry a MOOP bag with you everywhere – just like your water – as you walk around your part of the city.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran

Gifting in a LNT Community: We all enjoy the generosity and gifts of our theme camps, artists, and fellow citizens.  Instead of just bringing cheap trinkets for gifts that become MOOP, consider the gift of one’s self.  Look around and pitch in to help keep things clean: offer a tool, an extra hand, a gesture of thanks.  Try giving a smile, a helping hand or a joke.  Help a neighbor set up camp.  You are the best gift.

Devote Two Hours to General Cleanup in Black Rock City.  This means the streets, public spaces, and open playa where stuff may have been left behind.  Consider staying an extra day to help clean-up and avoid the Sunday and Monday traffic!

Prepare for the Hungry Wind – Secure your load, especially your trash.  Don’t let your trash fly off your vehicle, and do not dump it on the side of the road or at a rest stop on the way home! Use an approved dumping facility or take or home with you.  Plan ahead before you even pack for the playa so you leave with a minimal amount of trash.  When starting home, take a rest stop early; at the entrance gate, at a wide pullout, or maybe at the Empire store.  Check your load.  It is most likely to fail early in the trip.

Come back to the Black Rock Desert after the event and participate in restoration activities.  Helping the DPW clean the playa in September can be very satisfying.  The Earth Guardians participate in eco-restoration activities year-round.  For more information, check out our calendar at http://earthguardians.burningman.com/events_calendar.htm


Green Principle 5 -Coordinate With Our Neighbors to Share Resources

Coordinate with other participants to carpool, reduce your transportation costs and impacts and make new friends even before you get to the playa.  Note that many Regionals also coordinate to ship supplies to the playa.  Check with your local regional contact and test out the BM rideshare web page: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/resources/rideshare.html

Coordinate with other camps to share energy generation.  If you’re in a Village, you work with your village organizers to place camps so that sharing generators (or even better alternative power sources) can happen.

Discuss the possibility of sharing water and water treatment needs with others in your camp and village.  Many theme camps within villages take advantage of shared resources to use larger scale processes to store their drinking and shower water and treat their grey water.  Do not bring small plastic bottles of water to the playa.


Leave No Trace Principle 6 – Leave What You Find

On first reaching the playa, we encounter one of the profoundly barren and empty corners of the world.  That is exactly what we want to leave.

Clean As You Go and Grid Your Camp at the End! Don’t wait until the end of the week to pick stuff up, NEVER LET IT HIT THE GROUND and CLEAN AS YOU GO.  This will help you from getting overwhelmed by the mess and help keep trash from blowing out of reach.  Once you have taken down your camp, pack-up and load everything (including all trash) into your vehicles, and do a line sweep for every last bit of MOOP.  Use something like cones on the outside of your camp’s border to define your boundaries, break up any dunes that formed around vehicles or structures, then divide up your area and begin line sweeps.  Give everyone a plastic bag, line them up along one edge of camp, look down and slowly walk to the other side.  Cover your entire area looking for those last bits of trash- every wood chip, plastic piece, twist tie, cigarette butt, food scrap, carpet fiber, match, nut shell, scrap of plastic, everything.

You can’t hide a stuck stake by burying it.  Instead, its hazard is magnified.  Even when pounded below the surface, a stake will slowly, inevitably, emerge from the playa.  Vise-grips will almost always remove a stuck stake.  First, clamp on the vise-grips and rotate the stake back and forth, to break the playa’s grip.  Then continue rotating and also pull upwards.  Still stuck? Ask a neighbor for help.  Next year, remember that smooth stakes pull out much easier than ridged rebar.

Dedicate Two Hours to General Cleanup in Black Rock City! Each participant is asked to contribute two hours to community cleanup before departure.  This means streets, Center Camp, Center Cafe, all other public spaces, and open playa where stuff may have been left behind.  Pitch in with your fellow citizens and community service teams to restore the natural characteristics of the playa in your neighborhood, removing all burn scars, dunes, leftover debris, or other physical traces of our presence.  Stop by the Earth Guardian camp during the week and on Sunday and Monday — we’ll give you a beautiful MOOP bag and direct you to the areas of the City that needs the most attention.

Consider joining the DPW post-event restoration crews.  Help us clean and restore the playa, so that we can all return again.


Green Principle 6 -Respect the Environment & LNT Principle 7 – Respect Wildlife

At first glance, this principle may not seem as applicable to Burning Man.  However, as users of the Black Rock Desert, we share the Black Rock Desert NCA with many native species.  As home to Burning Man, the Black Rock High Rock NCA has importance to the Burning Man community.  Earth Guardians have partnered with BLM and other user groups to restore sensitive areas around the Black Rock Desert and have also taken on our own restoration projects.

Participate in Earth Guardians Eco-Restoration at Coyote Springs.  In honor of The Green Man, EG’s are expanding their efforts to take care of the desert environment with the Bureau of Land Management and Friends of Black Rock/High Rock.  Stop by the Earth Guardian pavilion at Esplanade near 5:45 to sign up for restoration work parties and naturalist-led desert walks throughout the week.

Let’s keep our beautiful desert home clean year round! See the EG pages for more details: http://earthguardians.burningman.com

Promote more sustainable practices at Burning Man with Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Precycle, Recycle and Restore, resulting in more awareness of conservation, ecological footprints, carbon equivalent offsets, and alternative energy sources, protecting our global habitat. Interested in helping, come to the Earth Guardians pavilion on Wednesday at to learn more about Greening Your Burn.

Also, don’t forget, The Desert is no place for dogs or other pets.  Burning Man is a no dog event.  For questions, contact dogs (at) burningman (dot) com


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