This email contains a great deal of information about how to LEAVE NO
TRACE when camping. The techniques were gathered from years of
experience in camping in one of the most challenging environments: an
empty, windy, dusty northern Nevada desert. The email was sent to
folks in anticipation of the annual Burning Man Festival, which creates
a city of 40,000 people in the desert for one week per year and then
disappears completely. There are no facilities at this camping event
other than medical support, porta-potties and trucks that water down
the roads. I encourage you to share these techniques and incorporate
them into your own camping experiences.
P.S. Just ignore information that is specific to the event. For more
information on this experience in radical self-reliance see
-------- Original Message --------
Jack Rabbit Speaks
Volume 10, Issue 30
August 21, 2006
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE - PLEASE READ!
This one's quite possibly the most important JRS you'll read this year,
and we hope you will read it carefully, and think about it as you're
planning and packing this week. Veterans and new folks alike will
benefit from this information.
This issue's dedicated to information about the environment at Burning
Man. You're about to embark on a trip to one of the most beautiful and
remote locations you'll ever visit, and as you prepare, these are
important things to think about. The choices you make about how to live
in Black Rock City for a week have a very big impact, in how we leave
the desert, the future of Burning Man, how you deal with your trash on
the way home...AND how we must live with the decisions we make regarding
fuel, wood, recycling, and our portion of the global footprint after the
event. This JRS brings you important reminders about those topics, just
in time to pack the car. Regular issue up later this week...the event
starts in less than seven days.
MAKE A PLAN TO LEAVE NO TRACE AT BURNING MAN
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. If
you put some Leave No Trace planning into your camp, your week on the
playa will likely be easier, cleaner, and healthier.
The Earth Guardians have been collecting and recording LNT tips for
playa living. Visit their website at:
Here are our top ten LNT reminders
1) CAMP SMARTER, NOT HARDER, PREPARE A LEAVE NO TRACE PLAN
2) If it doesn't come out of your body it doesn't go into the Potty.
3) RESPECT, RETHINK, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYLE AND RESTORE!
4) NEVER LET IT HIT THE GROUND (INCLUDING GREY WATER)
5) CLEAN AS YOU GO! & SECURE ITEMS FROM THE WIND
6) CONSIDER whether your gift is more likely to become MOOP than a
keepsake. Give smart.
7) BE A LNT GOOD NEIGHOR, LEND A HAND, CARRY A MOOP BAG
8) GRID YOUR CAMP BEFORE YOU LEAVE
9) Prepare for the Hungry Wind - Secure your load, especially your trash
10) VOLUNTEER FOR CLEAN UP WITH DPW
THE PRINCIPLES OF LEAVE NO TRACE
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
LNT Principle 1 -Plan Ahead and Prepare
Plan Ahead with a LNT plan, like
Pick a Leave No Trace leader for your camp, a "MOOP czar". This person
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, handle the question of stinky trash, gray
water disposal, and what NOT to burn .
Plan to Reduce Kitchen Waste: Plan simple, easy-cooking, low-dishwashing
meals. Bring two-thirds the food you think you'll need. Prepare and
freeze meals in ziploc bags. Repackage and prepare food in advance.
Bring water in 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
Here's food wisdom from a decade on the playa:
Plan to Recycle- Buy only aluminum cans and plan to take aluminum cans
to Recycle Camp. There are many good beers in cans! Check out
Separate and sort kitchen trash. 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.
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.
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, and drive only on obvious, marked roads. Avoid the Hot Springs
during the event. These delicate ecosystems cannot handle the volume of
visitors that use during the event would create.
Camp Structures and Shelters. 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 (6 inches or less in
diameter) 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, to prevent drips.
Always use a potty for your body waste - not the playa.
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
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
- Camps can collect grey water and take it to one of the RV dump
stations along Interstate 80 after the event.
- If you want to construct an evaporation pond, check out the web site:
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.
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.
Don't Overload the Burn Platforms! 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. Please check out
for more information on the hazards associated with toxic fumes.
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. Bring reusable wood to Camp Katrina for donation instead of
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
responsible ways to burn, email email@example.com, and please
come by the Earth Guardians Pavilion at during the event and sign up for
our daily crusades or weekend citizen patrols. We'll be having a
meeting on Friday at 11:30 to train new volunteers.
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 and 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 oneself.
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. The Earth Guardians participate in restoration
activities year-round. For more information, check out our calendar at:
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. Before leaving do a line sweep
across your camp. Give everyone a ziploc 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 twist tie,
cigarette butt, food scrap, carpet fiber, match, nut shell, scrap of
-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.
-Consider joining the DPW post-event clean-up crews. Help us get it out
of here, so that we can all return again.
Leave No Trace 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 a profound impact on the Burning Man community.
In return, 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.
Promote more sustainable practices at Burning Man with Respect, Rethink,
Reduce, Reuse, 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 6:00 to
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
-RESPECT THE PLAYA - NEVER LET IT HIT THE GROUND!
RESPECT, RETHINK, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYLE and RESTORE!
DON'T LET IT HIT THE GROUND -CLEAN AS YOU GO!
GREENING THE BURN - BURNING MAN 2006
Greening the Burn is a grass roots movement that started a number of
years ago when in 1995 two BRC citizens and Burning Man participants
asked the question, "Why is there no recycling in Black Rock City?" Two
years later a camp was started, dedicated to collecting & recycling
aluminum cans, and a movement was born. After 1997's event, the Earth
Guardians were formed and the Burning Man Project adopted the Leave No
Trace outdoor ethics. Six years later the first Biodiesel generator was
running one of the Burning Man infrastructure camps, the Greeters
Station. Also in 2004, biodegradable and compostable alternatives for
paper and plastic products were introduced at the Cafe and Staff
Commissary and participants were allowed by the Nevada Department of
Health to bring their own cups to the Cafe.
In February 2006, a meeting was held at Burning Man Headquarters in San
Francisco and it was clear that there was significant interest in
continuing to explore ways to "Green the burn". The Burning Man Project
listened and offered staff support, including a discussion list for
collaboration. Thus, firstname.lastname@example.org came online.
Over the past five months, the members of this grassroots movement have
been collaborating and connecting and communicating their wishes and
dreams for a cleaner and greener Black Rock City and Burning Man
Project. We are ready to bring it to all of you this year in BRC and put
all of us to the test to see if we can make BRC not just the best place
to visit once a year, but a living breathing model for progressive and
We all know that when Burning Man started the focus wasn't being an
eco-activist-utopian city. We also know that in the world that we live
in, the communities that we call home the rest of the year, the places
that we hope the spirit of Burning Man will infiltrate and take
hold...these places can learn from our good example, and so can we learn
by continuing these efforts. Black Rock City is a place where lives are
changed forever, where connections are made that last a lifetime, where
we get to be and see the best in each of us. We think it is high time
that we step it up a notch and be the future we hope to see.
And now, on with the show.......
PROJECTS AND CAMPS DEVOTED TO GREENING THE BURN
This has been an on going project for a number of years, Plans are in
the works to bring together the many environmental topics on and off our
website, update and add content regularly, and connect it all through a
brand new Environmental Section on the Burning Man web site. This
project has been given the green light and the web and green teams are
now running with it.
* Recycles as many aluminum cans as possible in a week
* Discourages glass & plastic bottles on the playa
* Practices & Promotes 'Leave No Trace' Principles
* Teaches the seething masses our 6 Tenets of proper Waste Management &
1. Prepare! Leave sorry-ass packaging at home!
2. Pack it in, pack it out! Leave No Trace!
3. Never let it hit the ground!
4. Separate! Sort your trash before you discard it!
5. Create! Supposed "garbage" can be transformed into noble works of art!
6. Respect, Rethink Reduce Re-use Recycle Restore!!!
Come by our camp everyday of the event from 10am to 5pm to bring us
your aluminum cans and help crush 'em and bag 'em and we'll deliver them
to the Gerlach School to be recycled. The School gets the money and we
all get to know we did the right thing with our cans. Last year, about
$800 went to the Gerlach High School Student Council. See you out there!
We'll be posting all our events in the WhatWhereWhen and also posting
events on a large white board in front of our camp. We will also be
listing events on LNTV and doing PSAs on BMIR.
**Volunteers for the burn platforms & dumpsters outside of the event**
EG's have been doing this (with assistance from Rangers, fire and DPW)
for the last couple of years. Volunteer - Each of us can play a part in
protecting the health of our community and the incredible beauty of the
playa. We can educate other participants and our neighbors about safe
ways to burn at Burning Man. And if we see someone trying to burn
something that's toxic or way too big, we should try to stop them. Join
the toxic avengers! If you want to volunteer to help educate our
citizens about responsible ways to burn, email
email@example.com, and please come by the Earth Guardians
Pavilion at during the event and sign up for our daily crusades or
weekend citizen patrols. We'll be having a meeting on Friday at 11:30
to train new volunteers.
**LNT Tour of the City**
Leave No Trace is really a way to camp smarter, not harder, on the
playa. So check out the LNT Tour model camps. And if you already got
LNT, nominate your camp for the coveted Camp of the Day award. 2006 will
mark the 5th year for the Earth Guardians LNT Tour of Black Rock City.
All tour camps fill out applications with their LNT plans and we talk
with them, collect their camp plans and work with them so that we have
educational material on their efforts to share, before adding them to
the 'Tour'. During the event, a group of Earth Guardians visit every
camp that has been nominated into the Camp of the Day Contest to
evaluate their LNT efforts and pick the top 5 camps of the week as winners.
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