“Leave No Trace” isn’t just a guiding principle of Burning Man, it’s a way of life for denizens of the playa, the empty lakebed that plays host to the pop-up metropolis that is Black Rock City. BRC is one of the most populous cities in Nevada during the week of Burning Man, and it is certainly the cleanest.
Most festivals are filled with kids in Grateful Dead t-shirts and dreads who drop cigarette butts and roaches left and right, or neon-skittle ravers who’s idea of a good time involves launching a handful of toxic plastic (AKA glowsticks) into the air. The impact is disgraceful. Greening efforts and volunteer and staff labor are key to restoring sites and definitely make a difference, but plenty is wasted and far more than footprints left behind.
At Burning Man, “Leave No Trace” is manifested in everything from innovative greening and sustainability projects like evaporation ponds and “bottle bricks” (to be discussed below) to the simple personal efforts of most burners to carry an ashtray tin and a bag for “MOOP” (Mess Out Of Place). A little planning, a little consciousness, a huge difference.
A Diligent Burner Raking Campsite for MOOP
Green Gatsby took note of the evap-ponds and fountains used by RVs and under showers to evaporate grey water and capture residues so as not to impact the local balance by disposing of it directly on the playa. Seeing as we just acquired an RV, this is one idea we’ll definitely be carrying home with us. Another great idea that anyone can put into practice at home or on the road? “Bottle Bricks”. This project, instituted in the Fractal Nation and Area 51 camps (the theme camps of visual artists Android Jones and Alex & Allyson Grey, respectively and one of the largest joint camps and music venues on playa), is part of the Bottle Brick Project
, a global intitative to upcycle waste into building materials for development projects in the third world. Bottle bricks are made by compacting small pieces of trash (can tabs, glowsticks, gum wrappers, etc) into plastic bottles until they are rigid enough to be used as building blocks for walls, benches, and fences. Green Gatsby knows how we’re going to fence next spring’s garden—and keep waste out of the landfill!
A Bottle Brick
Heineken’s Inter-Locking Glass Bottle Bricks
There are many things Burners carry from the playa back to the default wold. If each carries the efforts and philosophy of Leave No Trace, and shares them with others, we’ll all share in the gift of a healthier environment.