Reuse, Reduce, Recycle

Rethink & Reduce What You Purchase & Bring

Recycling at Burning Man

Recycling at Burning Man

Bring the Right Stuff, Leave The Rest Behind. Shop smart and pack even smarter to reduce waste and save money!


Select construction materials and decorations for your camp that are reusable year after year (it’s cheaper!). If you can’t reuse it, make sure it’s recyclable.

Design your camp structures for reuse, easy deconstruction, storage and salvage. Use screws instead of nails. Use reclaimed wood and metal when possible.

Camp shade made from recycled Tshirt fabric

Camp shade made from recycled Tshirt fabric

Consider using materials that can be reused or repurposed at home or at next year’s event. You’ll have less cost and less disposal headaches at the end of the event. You’ll also save money when preparing for next year.

Bring tethers, anchors, containers, and covers, to keep light stuff from blowing away.

Plan to Recycle! – Set up a Camp Waste Sorting and Recycling Center

Plan to separate and sort trash in your kitchen Bring containers and sturdy signs for separating food waste/compost, recyclables, burnables (paper and wood), and nonburnable trash.  Train your camp-mates how to separate!  Everyone has different ideas about trash separation, make sure that you agree on one system for your camp to avoid confusion.

Buy only aluminum cans and dispose of them at Recycle Camp or pack them out. Be sure to separate any other recyclables (glass, steel and plastic) at recycle centers. There are many good beers in cans! Take aluminum cans to Recycle Camp.  Seal the small amount of trash you have left in big plastic bags, or in five-gallon buckets with lids, to take home, compost or, if you must, drop off some trash in local landfills. Using mesh bags to dry food waste will reduce the smell and amount of trash you generate. Use a pail with tight-fitting lid for wet garbage. Wet stinks, dry doesn’t. If you choose to dry out the garbage, make sure it’s secure from wind.

Take aluminum cans to Recycle Camp.

Reduce your use of disposable plastic!  Earth Guardian Beth Terry is an expert at reducing use of disposable plastics.  Not using single serve plastic bottles is just a start!  Learn more here! For more tips on keep food waste and kitchen MOOP (matter out of place) to a minimum, check out this web site.

Clothes & Costumes

Trash Fence Dress

Trash Fence Dress

Reuse and repurpose old clothes to the maximum possible extent. Buying new things and disposing of old things increases your environmental footprint. And be cognizant of your costuming. Some things that can be particularly problematic (and should be used with the greatest of care, if at all) include feathers, glitter, sequins, beads, bindis, body gems, glued-on stuff, fake eyelashes, etc. Here’s a list of notoriously MOOPy items and alternatives to using them.

Store cigarette butts in a candy tin.

Food & Water

Minimize kitchen waste and clean-up by planning simple, low-dishwashing meals, repackaging and preparing food in advance. Bring less food than you think you’ll need. Take off every piece of unnecessary packaging and put food (and everything else, for that matter) in reusable containers.

Bring water in big reusable containers and bring reusable cups, utensils, bowls or plates, not flimsy disposables. Don’t bring single use bottled water. Ask visitors to your camp to BYOC (bring your own cup) and take your own cup to the Center Camp Café and fashionable bars. A carabineer or shower hook easily secures it for transport around the city.

Repackage and prepare food in advance. Onsite, prepare ONLY what you and friends will eat. Stock up on sturdy containers and avoid and dispose of the cellophane, plastic wrap, excess cardboard and other cruddy packaging. Check out your local food co-op where you can purchase items without paying for packaging.

Bring water in big reusable plastic containers and have a personal canteen. If you bring dozens of small plastic bottles, you must take every one of them home with you! Avoid bringing glass bottles. There are many good beers in cans!  Decant your beverage of choice into a flask. Remember that every little shard of accidentally broken glass must be picked up by hand, by someone. Nasty!

Bring your own reusable beverage container to the Café or cocktail parties – ideally one with a hook that’s part of your outfit wherever you go. You can use your own reusable cup if you purchase coffee and other beverages at the Center Camp Café.

Avoid disposable utensils and paper products. Too much trash is a bigger problem than too much gray water.

Chico serving goodies cooked in a solar oven.

Chico serving goodies cooked in a solar oven.


Don’t bring cheap trinkets for gifts or barter . Try giving a smile, a helping hand or a joke.  Sometimes a tasty treat or water makes someone’s day. Thousands of  disposable ‘gifts’ end up as trash. And feather boas, or ANYTHING that sheds, is a no-no: the trash fence tells us so. You are the best gift.

Promote LNT Neighbors . Be proud of your neighborhood, work together with your neighbors to keep your part of the city clean. Every year some camps get overwhelmed and need help. The seventh and final principle of LNT practice is “be considerate of others,” which in our city includes helping neighbors to leave no trace. We all enjoy the generosity and gifts of our theme camps, artists, and fellow citizens. So look around and pitch in to help keep things clean: offer a tool, an extra hand, a gesture of thanks.

Be Prepared. Carry a MOOP bag and water as you walk around your part of the city and out on the playa. Small bits of trash are just as important as large piece as they are easily buried in the dust and mud, only to reemerge in the spring. Our community works together to improve our life on the playa, rather than rely upon rules and regulations enforced by outsiders to keep us in line. Talk to others and help them to better understand how to leave no trace.

Avoid handing out paper announcements or flyers.

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