Minimize Waste to Minimize Camp Clean-up

How Can We Minimize Waste so that Camp Clean-up is Easier at the End of the Week?

Plan your camp to minimize clean-up efforts and don’t wait until the end of the week to pick stuff up.

Clean as you go.

An organized playa kitchen

An organized playa kitchen

This will help you from getting overwhelmed by the mess and keep trash from blowing out of reach. Have your LNT team do a once-a-day sweep de-MOOPing through public portions of your camp.

Food, Water & Other Liquids

Collect food waste in a mesh bag in your camp kitchens. Using mesh bags to dry food waste will reduce the smell and amount of trash you generate. The food will dry up, becoming light and nearly odorless. Composting food waste not only reduces garbage but repurposes the waste to back to the earth. Use a container with a tight lid for transporting the compost home. Here’s food wisdom from a decade on the playa.

Use tubs or sinks to wash dishes and collect grey water and set up secondary containment around any grey water collection and evaporation devices you use.   Learn more about grey water management here.

Who dropped the metal screws on the playa?

Who dropped the metal screws on the playa?

Don’t Dig Holes

Plan to avoid digging holes in the playa . Small postholes (6 inches or less in diameter) used for structural support are the sole exception. When digging such a hole it is best to use an auger or a posthole digger, NOT a shovel. Refill the hole by carefully tamping the soil back into place. Repeat this process every few inches while dampening the soil. Larger holes, like ones used in the past to sound-insulate generators or for pools, easily erode within a year’s time, even when carefully backfilled. They leave a visible mark and create a serious safety hazard.  Learn more about the problems with playa dunes from DPW’s Playa Restoration Team!

No Live Plants

Live plants die on the playa. Ask anyone that has brought them. They always make a mess. It’s very difficult to bring in plants, trees, or palm fronds without creating a M.O.O.P. (Mater Out of Place) disaster. All previous uses of live plants in significant quantities has cost the clean up crew days and days of work post event. Plastic plants work just as well and look better with a quick watering.

Prevent Oil and Grey Water Drips



As a part of the annual permitting process for the Burning Man event, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) evaluates the potential environmental impacts that temporary Black Rock City residents may cause to the playa and surrounding desert. In response to a concerned citizen’s question about impacts, BLM conducted its own study to determine whether the event poses significant risks and whether additional measures are needed to mitigate the impacts. This survey revealed, in part, that “beater” cars are sometimes likely to drip oil, so BLM asked Burning Man to take appropriate action to minimize drips.

What can you do to prevent oil drips

  1. Take your car in for a maintenance check before you get the playa to prevent potential messes.
  2. Lay a protective barrier between your vehicle and the playa surface. A pan or tarp will work, just be careful how you remove the barrier at the end of the event.
  3. Check for leaks during the week so you won’t be cleaning up the entire mess at the end of the week.
  4. If you think that you’re car might leak, bring a sealable container to collect the fluid at the end of the week. Check for oil recycling centers on the way home.

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