Answering the Million Dollar Question: Where Do I Take My Trash After Burning Man?

This post is part of the Consider Your Impact series

So now it’s Monday. Time to leave Black Rock City. And here comes the hard part. I mean, it’s been difficult all along — Burning Man’s no walk in the park — but now you and your campmates are entirely cracked out, utterly exhausted, and deeply playafied. Your psyche feels like it’s been stripped clean and dragged around the desert floor for a week (because it was), and your body isn’t faring much better.

Then comes the slap in the face. Right when you’re at your physical and emotional worst, and every fiber of your being really just wants a shower, you’re staring down one of the most difficult and critical tasks you’ll undertake at Burning Man: getting all your crap out of there.

See the trash bags? Notice the gray-water containers? Yeah, it’s HARDCORE like that. (Photo by unknown)

Ideally, ‘past you’ was thoughtful about taking care of ‘future you,’ and designated a Leave No Trace czar(ina) for your camp, tasked with coordinating all of your camp’s LNT efforts. They’d have designed your LNT plan, kept your camp’s LNT week-long efforts on track, organized clean-ups and line-sweeps, and determined who’s taking what trash off-playa with them, and where it’s headed. If you didn’t designate an LNT manager, well … congratulations, that’s now your job. Dig deep.

One of the more common questions Burners inevitably find themselves asking once they hit pavement again is OK, so where DO I take my trash after the event?” In many cases, taking it back (to one’s actual) home isn’t really tenable. And you bet your ass that dumping it at locations such as rest stops, RV parks, hotels, convenience stores, or in front of people’s homes is neither moral nor legal. So what do you do? We got you.

It doesn’t end when you hit the pavement. (Photo by John Curley)

As part of our Leave Nevada Beautiful campaign (running since 2007 — look for the rear view mirror hangtag in your Greeters packet), there’s a network of authorized trash, recycling, and RV grey/black water servicing facilities where you can legally dispose of your waste on your way home after the Burning Man event, whichever direction you’re headed! KNOW THE LOCATION YOU WANT TO USE, DOUBLE-CHECK THEIR HOURS, AND USE THEM.

Of all the gazillion stops you’ll make en route to and from Black Rock City, this is arguably the most valuable stop you’ll make (other than getting water), because it’s the one that ensures Burning Man’s future. So plan ahead, consider your impact, secure your load to your vehicle when you leave, and dispose of your trash only in authorized dumping locations — and make sure your friends and neighbors know about these places too. 

If we all do our part to Leave No Trace, both on and off playa, the Burning Man we’ve come to know and love gets to keep happening on the Black Rock Desert. If not, it won’t … it’s up to you.

Warning: While you may encounter other “private enterprises” along the highways willing to take your trash for money, we cannot vouch for their standards of operation. Some of these private enterprises have been known to abandon your trash at their site after taking your money. No trash should ever be on the ground. It should all be going directly into a dumpster.

This post is part of our ‘Consider Your Impact’ series, where we’re telling stories that explore our community’s known and lesser-known effects on not just the Black Rock Desert itself, but the world around us as well. We hope it will raise awareness and inspire you to, well, consider your impact. Hence the name.

Top photo: Alien MOOP abduction, or at least I’d like to think so. (Lackluster image manipulation by yours truly.)

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

3 Comments on “Answering the Million Dollar Question: Where Do I Take My Trash After Burning Man?

  • lenny face says:

    Plan ahead, consider your impact, secure your load to your vehicle when you leave!

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  • bill soukup says:

    Well said you’re so right about the other trash haulers. Or I should say all trash haulers with the way recycling economy is going on you can’t guarantee you or any of your garbage goes. Because those purveyors are at best paying $10 a yard for dumping so they’re making a good amount of money off of 30 yard bin and know that there’s not going to recycle anything either with the landfill that they take it to the most trustworthy I’ll bet by far is got2b Nevada recycling and salvage just saying

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  • billygoatgruff says:

    2019 was my first Burning Man experience. All the literature I read about Burning man mentions you can purchase ice and have your sewage pumped for a fee While at Burning Man, I saw the sewage pumping trucks, but I also saw trucks with potable water that you could also purchase. Maybe in the future, you could also have garbage trucks that go around and pick up garbage from the RV’s for a fee.

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