The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace: Crush ‘Em if You Got ‘Em at Recycle Camp!

Welcome back to The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace, your guide to being a stellar Black Rock Citizen and helping Burning Man leave the desert spotless so it can all happen again next year!

But listen, I’ve had enough of chatting about how to be responsible, pack light, drop off your trash & recycling on the way home … let’s get to the good stuff! Let’s go to Burning Man and party down with Recycle Camp!

Do not board the Blue Duck, especially if you are made of metal.


If you’ve never crushed cans at Recycle Camp, you’ve never Burned. The Blue Duck, an incredible mechanical pedal-powered can-munching machine, fills the air with sounds of rattling metal and hoots of joy as can after can flies into its mighty gullet. Meanwhile, a stalwart crew of environmentally-motivated hecklers keep the music and the aluminum flowing, with only two goals in mind: Get More Cans and Have More Fun.

So why the cans? Because cans = cash, and in this case, the proceeds go directly to the Gerlach schools. For the past three years, that’s been a donation of around $1,500 to the community that so graciously hosts all our Burning Man shenanigans.

Recycle Camp was founded by participants in the mid-1990s, and became an official Burning Man camp in 1998. In 2001, a young punk we call Mr. Blue arrived in Black Rock City and spent his week crushing cans, and the next year he took over the project. Ever since its inception, Recycle Camp has attracted truly fun, smart and dedicated team members, and Blue is the prime example — a good friend of mine, and a committed environmentalist who’s done incredible work to keep Burning Man dedicated to its Leave No Trace ethic.

Mr. Blue surveys his domain: crates of crushed cans, ready for recycling.

But enough about Blue, how about YOU? How can you get in on the can-crushin’ hoedown? Easy. It’s located at 6:00 on the Center Camp ring, directly behind the Cafe, and open Monday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Throw all your cans, your neighbors’ cans and your nearest theme camp’s cans into a wagon, cart it down and get to crushing!

And if I haven’t made it clear: Recycle Camp accepts ONLY ALUMINUM. For the rest — glass, plastic, cardboard, bicycles, trash and more — there is EXTRA.

See you at Recycle Camp, see you at the Burn!

It’s almost time to head to our dusty desert home, so we’ve got just one more edition of The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace. Tune in soon for MOOP 101!

Recycle Camp’s good-times team.

The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace

The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace is a series of thoughtful actions you can take, from the moment you start packing your car to the moment you hose the last playa mud off its undercarriage. Over the next several months, we’ll dive into all these issues in depth. Here’s the overview to get you started:

  • PRECYCLE – Buy less stuff in bulky packaging, or recycle and get rid of the packaging before you come to the playa. You’re gonna need the extra room on the back end! Read more about it.
  • BRING LESS – Bring less stuff! Less is less! Save gas, save yourself a Tetris headache and save the playa from litter by leaving out that extra, non-sturdy shade structure and seven or eight pillows you don’t NEED need. Read more about it.
  • DON’T LET IT HIT THE GROUND – Cigarette butts, wood chips, nails, screws, specifically. Also single-use water bottles (don’t bring ‘em!), feathers (don’t wear ‘em!) and belly dance coins from your blinged-out hips (don’t shake ‘em!).
  • MANAGE YER TRASH – Icky, yet necessary. Do it. Water, too. Separate your cans from your hams and let that soapy water evaporate instead of pouring it on the ground. Read more about it.
  • RECYCLE THOSE CANS – Cans = cash for local schools! Cart ‘em to Recycle Camp and take a ride on the can crusher. Read more about it.
  • PLAN TO MOOP YOUR CAMP – Don’t let anybody hit the road until you’ve conducted an all-camp line sweep. Make an exit plan that includes time to pick up any MOOP in your area, even if you don’t think it’s yours.
  • DON’T LITTER THE HIGHWAY – Strap your stuff to your head if you have to! Better yet, make it all fit in your car! Read more about it.
  • TRASH & RECYCLING STATIONS – You don’t need to carry all that mass over the mountains, just get it down the road a piece and drop it at one of several facilities that are just waiting for Burners. Check your Survival Guide for details. Read more about it.

About the author: The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a lifetime commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching as the Man burned on Monday. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

4 thoughts on “The Burner’s Guide to Leaving No Trace: Crush ‘Em if You Got ‘Em at Recycle Camp!

  • I really don’t want to be bothered with recycling out on the playa. I live in Santa Cruz and have to deal with the recycling mafia all the time. I’ve paid for my ticket, and if I want to leave a bit of a trace – I’ve F’ing paid for it to be picked up. What the hell is DPW good for anyway?

    Every can left on the playa is a helps employ another member of DPW for next year.

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  • TTTNA, I can only assume you are joshing. If only each DPW member could be employed to pick up a single can! Our work would be so easy!

    If you are not joshing, well, that’s just a shame and I’m glad you have so many thousands of fellow Burners willing to clean up after you.

    DPW almost never finds any cans. We spend most of our time on wood chips and cigarette butts.

    So when you meet your neighbors this year, thank them in advance for dealing with your trash! I’m sure you have something nice you can do for them in return.

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