I know where you’ve been…

Leaving a mess, that is.

Below, in all its lauditory-for-some, humbling-for-others glory, is the 2006 MOOP map. It highlights, in full color “hey, check out the neighbors” detail, what DPW found after final cleanups last year. Going green means more than just taking the recycling out–it means taking _everything_ out.

Some camps did great–you folks over between 8-8:30 and Chance-Eager? You can come over to my house anytime. As for the campers at 4-4:30 b/t Fate and Guess- didn’t yo momma teach you to clean up after yourselves? (Full disclosure–that red “L” shape at 2:45 and Esplanade? My camp last year. I’m so embarrassed…)

MOOP, noun – Matter Out Of Place; especially as it applies to Black Rock City and its Citizens. Can be anything: cigarette butts, bottle caps, glowsticks, fireworks, but is often disguised as debris, i.e., broken bits of wood, plastic, metal, glass and plants. Can also be a condition: burn scars, grey water, dunes, etc.

moop, verb – to pick up Matter Out Of Place.


20% RED


Also known as hot spots, the impact trace conditions embedded into the playa in your vicinity were heavily problematic and spread out over a vast area. Get your restoration team and tools together. Set your boundaries, do your line sweep, identify the issues, restore… go green!



While neither the best nor worst, your impact trace is the ever-changing average. On the bright side, with a good strategy your camp has strong potential to go green. However, slack could easily put your camp into the red.



Green as in GO! GO! GO! You get an A+ for awesome. Your camping area left no trace. Keep up the good work. You are the leaders of no trace and we need you to lead the way in 2007! BLACK ROCK CITY SALUTES YOU.

Now of course this isn’t to make anyone look bad. Well, maybe a little. After all, it’s not like the playa is thick grass hiding your candy wrappers or anything. But there are mitigating circumstances that could have affected how your camp got scored. For example, if you and your fellow camp mates were good kiddies and stayed late to clean up, a lot of debris could have blown from other areas over into yours. Then again, if you were still there you should have noticed it, right?

According to DA, head of Playa Restoration, winning the war on MOOP happens during the event, not after. Just follow this simple rule: never let it hit the ground. Put down drop cloths when working with wood. Have garbage cans handy, especially in cooking areas. Carry sealing ashtrays, like an Altoids tin, to offer smokers to hold their butts. And for heaven’s sake, please don’t bring plants, or anything else that will shed. Seriously–go cross “take my lucky fern” off your 2007 playa packing list.

Still, we can all take enormous pride in how we leave the Black Rock Desert–after DPW was finished last year, the MOOP still on the playa couldn’t fill a ziplock baggie. And Burning Man is still recognized by the BLM as the largest Leave No Trace event anywhere.

And if your spot on the map shows green, and you indulge in just the teensiest, weensiest bit of gloating over doing a better job than your auburn hued neighbor– it’s OK, you’ve earned it.

For more info on playa restoration, check out their little corner of Burningman.com.

About the author: Tom Price

Tom Price

Tom Price is the former Executive Director of Black Rock Solar. Prior to that he was the Environmental Manager for Burning Man during the Green Man theme, and was in the Gulf Coast for six months during the genesis of Burners Without Borders. He's been attending Burning Man since 1997, and he's proud to say that his decade plus streak of breaking down from sun stroke on the playa on day three remains intact.

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