The Black Rock Desert is a place unlike any other — a wide expanse of possibility set in the heart of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area. This is part of our nation’s prized national conservation lands, a special designation given by the U.S. Government to some of the most scenic, culturally rich, scientifically important and yet least known public lands in the country. We are proud to build Black Rock City in this stunningly beautiful location and equally committed to respecting and protecting this special place.
In light of this commitment, Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event in the world — LNT is one of our core principles — it is up to all of us to remove all Matter Out of Place (MOOP) from Black Rock City. There is no garbage collection service in BRC — we are all responsible for properly removing all trash. Everything you bring might become trash: tent stakes, bottle caps, ashes, wood debris, orange peels, cigarette butts, pistachio shells, rope fibers, sequins —even abandoned bikes. According to our permit with the BLM, we have a very short window of time to restore the playa to its original condition. We can only satisfy BLM stipulations and pass inspection if ALL citizens share in the responsibility to line-sweep their camps and the city.
Plan Ahead to Leave No Trace
Plan ahead! Start your LNT efforts before you leave for Black Rock City:
- Prepare a Leave No Trace plan AND a cleanup plan for your camp; LNT as you go and have less to clean up and restore before you leave.
- Remove all excess packaging from everything (food, supplies, tools) before you pack it.
- Don’t bring glass containers of any kind — they can shatter. Metal bottles and plates work well.
- Don’t bring disposable plastic bottles, bring 5 gallon collapsible or other large water containers and refillable water bottles — less to bring home!
- Smokers: use a portable ashtray (a mint tin works well) to collect cigarette butts and ashes (yes, ash is MOOP!). NEVER drop butts on the playa or in public areas like the Café or porta-potties.
- Bring tarps to put under MOOP-heavy areas like your kitchen, construction areas and workspaces. Avoid MOOPy carpets and Astroturf.
- Bring rope or tie-downs to secure everything in your camp, and to securely strap down your load on top of your vehicle.
- Bring cardboard, a tarp, or pan to place under your vehicle to collect oil drippings.
- Pack work gloves to help you pick up the sharp bits, and a magnet rake to pick up metal.
- BYOC: bring an easy-to-carry cup to use at the Café and out in BRC. Note: If you bring your own bottled or canned beverages to the Café, take drink containers back to your camp or to Recycle Camp where you can recycle your aluminum cans.
- Don’t bring loose glitter, feather boas, Astroturf, styrofoam coolers, plastic bags, paper, string, disposable drink cups, hay bales, straw, gravel — or anything else that can blow away in the wind or turn into a MOOPy mess.
- Don’t bring public swimming pools or showers. Water can create a huge mess and poses public health issues.
- Make an evaporation device (see www.evapotrons.info for some great ideas) to properly dispose of your grey water. Do not dump grey water onto the playa. See the Burning Man website for collection, treatment, and disposal alternatives, and see Pack it out! for places to take your gray water after the event.
Preventing MOOP on Playa
- Never let it hit the ground! MOOP attracts more MOOP. If you see trash on the ground in BRC, pick it up and take it with you — you won’t see it later as layers of dust accumulate.
- Weight it down! Put a weight on or tie down anything that can blow away.
- If it wasn’t in your body, don’t put it in the potty! No tampons, trash, cigarette butts, etc. One ply toilet paper ONLY.
- If you have an RV be sure to bring a five gallon bucket to catch any grey or black water leaks from your plumbing.
- Sort your trash and recycling for easy drop off at collection centers on your way home. See Pack it out!
- Make a MOOP bucket to collect MOOP. Cut a 3” hole in the top of an empty plastic water jug, leaving the handle intact. Sweep dust containing glass, wood chips, bark or anything too small to pick up, into a dust pan and deposit in a bucket for disposal at home.
- Carry a MOOP bag. Always carry a small bag to collect any MOOP you find. Customize your MOOP bag to make it part of your playa wear!
- If you plan to use a burn barrel, bring a shovel and metal containers to scoop up and remove any ashes. All burn barrels must be elevated 10″ off the playa surface to prevent burn scars.
- WOOD IS MOOP! Wood is the #1 MOOP issue in Black Rock City. That’s right! Wood from sawdust, splinters, wood debris and firewood bark poses a major MOOP problem. Help keep the playa beautiful by laying down a tarp or rug under your wood cutting stations and firewood storage areas. If you see wood on the ground, pick it up!
Before You Leave
- Line-sweep your camp. Walk shoulder-to-shoulder with your campmates and clean your campsite in a grid pattern. Pick up EVERYTHING. Use a magnet bar or rake to go over your entire camp and conduct a final MOOP line-sweep to inspect your space.
- Community Clean-Up. As a citizen of BRC, you are asked to join your neighbors on Sunday and Monday after the burn for two hours of MOOPing BRC in addition to your own camp clean up—pick a well-traveled area. The Earth Guardians in Center Camp can direct you to a specific cleanup project.
- Secure and cover your load! Pack carefully and make sure your trash and other items do not litter our highways on your ride home.
On Your Way Home
- Leave No Trace does not end when you hit the pavement. Do not dump your trash in neighboring communities (yes, this has actually happened). See Pack it out! for waste and recycling locations.
- Stop periodically and check to make sure your vehicle’s load is secure!
Burning Man believes strongly in protecting the environment and making the event more sustainable — but we need YOU to help make that happen. The Environment section of the Burning Man website is a treasure trove of helpful tips for creating a plan for your time on playa with tips on how to practice the 6 ‘R’s: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect & Restore! Visit Greening Your Burn to learn more.