We’ve got a Burn coming up soon. That means lots of errands to run, provisions to procure, miles to drive, and fires to start — and all of that has an environmental impact.
Black Rock City Theme Camp IDEATE has partnered with our friends at Black Rock Labs to create a program to help Burners compensate for some of that impact. They’ve calculated a footprint for Burning Man participants of 1,400 lbs of carbon emissions per person, a figure based on the Cooling Man calculations created in the run-up to the 2007 Green Man theme. They’re offering a carbon offset through a company called C-Quest that we can all buy as part of our Leaving No Trace plans for this Burn.
Carbon offsets are no get-out-of-climate-change-jail-free card, and some aren’t effective at all. For a carbon offset to be worth its salt, the money must go straight towards taking actual carbon emissions out of the actual air. According to Black Rock Labs, these C-Quest offsets are the real deal — good enough that Black Rock Labs put their seal of approval on them. If you buy one of these offsets, here’s what happens:
C-Quest is invested in a project to overhaul cookstoves in rural areas of Zambia. The existing solid-fuel stoves emit lots of CO2, and they also wreak havoc on the pulmonary health of the people using them. These carbon offsets pay to overhaul these kitchens with cleaner and more efficient stoves. Each stove eliminates 6,600 lbs (or 4.7 Burning Man participants’ worth) of carbon emissions per year, plus health benefits for the people using them.
So if you’ve got it in your budget, consider buying some offsets for your carbon emissions. Offsets are, of course, no substitute for actually reducing your impact, so as you prepare for the playa, always be thinking about the environmental life cycle of every decision. Buy less. Drive less. Do more with less. The easiest way to leave no trace is to create less of one in the first place.
There are plenty of other resources out there to help you green your Burn. There’s a special issue of our Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter devoted to the topic, which you can read and share. There’s also a useful and in-depth section of our website called Greening Your Burn. Most importantly, the vast majority of Burners’ carbon emissions are caused by transportation. This is why Burning Man Project has invested in taking cars off the road by building out the Burner Express program. Take the bus! If that’s not practical, at least increase your number of people per vehicle by carpooling. There’s a whole Burning Man Rideshare board if you’re looking for drivers or passengers.
Top photo: Nevada State Highway 447 (Photo by John Curley)