Can you see the impending doom in this photo?
The diver’s fine, of course. It’s that gorgeous city behind her that is endangered. Burning Man may have flourished for 25 years running, but it’s more ephemeral than it seems. At any point, Black Rock City could cease to exist. But thanks to you, me and 50,000 people just like us, it appears year after year. And by following the Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace, we can keep Burning Man alive and on fire for ever.
Burning Man, as you surely know, is a Leave No Trace event. That means it’s everyone’s responsibility to pick up every piece of MOOP — from couches to cigarette butts, lost pairs of pants to abandoned glow sticks. Even if it isn’t yours, if you see it, you pick it up — that’s the way this works.
It works well. We are pretty dang good at it.
Each year, the BLM inspects our site to determine whether we’ve cleaned up after ourselves adequately. And each year, thanks to YOUR efforts and the efforts of the Playa Restoration crew that spends weeks pulling up rebar stakes, we pass.
We must pass the annual BLM Debris Inspection for our permit. Too much debris will eventually mean the Bureau of Land Management won’t want us to hold Burning Man in this pristine desert. We also must make sure our neighbors (townships, small businesses, and local governments) are satisfied with our trash cleanup efforts on the roads leading up to and from our event. This is hard, gritty work. We are committed to it. We cannot have the event without it. And much of this work can be prevented by a few simple, mindful actions. And so we are asking you (and your campmates) to help us.
MOOP (and its bedfellows, highway trash and pollution) are unintentional side effects of our collective enthusiasm, and they’re something each and every one of us should take responsibility for. And so I present to you the Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace, a collaborative effort between me, you and those other 50,000.
As a community, our goal is to make less MOOP and get our trash to the right place! Yes! As long as each of us does our part, Burning Man will continue to take place in the beauty of the Black Rock Desert.
It comes down to you, and me, and those other 50,000. So print out the Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace and show it to your campmates, and prepare to be the best citizen of Black Rock City that you can be, whether you’re coming for your first year or your 15th.
I’ll be stopping by every few weeks to give you the dirty details of how to manage your detritus with style, grace and aplomb. For now, start by reading the 10 Principles, the Leave No Trace page, and the Enviroblog. For a more in-depth look at Burning Man’s LNT attitude, here’s an article we love from WorldSweeper: The Cleanup of Black Rock City: It’s All About the MOOP.
Now I’m off to enjoy the wild beauty of Nevada in the springtime. See you in a few weeks!
Next issue: PRECYCLING!