Can ‘Burning Man’ Become a Model for Green Living?

Green Man
Green Man

from Alternet:
Can ‘Burning Man’ Become a Model for Green Living?
By Matthew Taylor, PeacePower Magazine. Posted October 23, 2007.

Can 45,000 people journey vast distances to a lifeless Nevada desert and participate in an environmentally sustainable festival devoted to burning stuff? As strange as it sounds, during the last week of August 2007, the annual hedonistic celebration Burning Man attempted to do just that: go ‘green.’

What has Burning Man done to merit its theme, The Green Man? Is Burning Man making serious efforts to green itself, or is it all a front, a form of greenwashing? How will the Burning Man experience affect burners, and will they bring it home into their lives? What does the Green Man art theme say about the state of civilization and its trajectory? It was in search of answers to these questions and others unimagined that the author trekked to the playa this year.

A certain segment of the Burning Man community has long made respect for the environment a high priority. For years, event organizers have promoted a “leave no trace” ethic and encouraged all participants to scour campsites down to the tiniest scraps.

The under-appreciated Earth Guardians work year-round to keep the playa clean and tidy, and ensure that “burn scars” don’t deface the desert. Burners Without Borders, a group of volunteers vowing to “bring it home,” journeyed to the Hurricane Katrina destruction zone in 2005 to provide an estimated one million dollars worth of free home demolitions to help property owners clear away wreckage from the disaster. Last year, the same group salvaged six semi trucks full of reclaimed wood from the festival and donated it to Habitat for Humanity. (This year, a Burning Man spokesperson says it was even more).

But in the past few years, participants have demanded a much higher level of environmental responsibility. Just keeping the desert free from “MOOP” (matter out of place) was not enough. (more…)

Harvesting the Urban Forest of BRC

Announcing the 2nd Annual Playa Lumber Recycling Project:
Help Harvest The Urban Forest of Black Rock City, and Help Habitat For Humanity build homes for low income families.


-volunteers pose next to their catch: 42 units of reclaimed lumber. Photo courtesy Camera Girl.

For years one of the biggest complaints about leaving Burning Man wasn’t the drive
home, or the difficult reentry, or even the long wait until the next event.

Instead, it was “I can’t believe no one can use all this good wood!” It was usually said just before someone torched a huge pile that had been used for just one week, then discarded.

No more: in 2006 Burners Without Borders organized the first playa-wide wood recycling project, and it was a huge success! Six semi trucks of lumber left the playa in September 2006, and were delivered to Habitat For Humanity in Reno. According to their state director, it was the largest donation they’ve ever received.


Green Man on the air-extended LP mix

Last week I posted a link to a short radio interview on about the Green Man, and the things we’re doing to try greening up this little burn of ours. They’ve now posted the full version. It’s a 12 minute podcast. Overall it’s a pretty accurate summary of what we’re all up to. Hey, you try talking for 12 minutes without saying something silly. Anyway, the links are right here, give a listen and see what you think:

TreeHugger Radio: The Greening of Burning Man


Clean your scene on Cinco De Playa

This May 5th join Burners all over the country (and the world!) are getting together to help clean up their little corner of the world. Burners Without Borders (another name for any group of burners getting together to do public service) is organizing the 2nd Annual Cinco de Playa Beach and Park Restoration Day.

The details are as simple or as complicated as you’d like them to be: either join a group already organized, or get your own together, and head out to the nearest place in need of cleaning up, and MOOP the heck out of it.

Your True Colors

Most years when you arrive on playa you’ll get–along with your WhatWhereWhen, Map, and so forth–a sticker. Among the most popular? Hands down it’s the oval BRC logos.

So to show support for the Green Man theme this year, Carmen with Burners Without Borders printed up a whole bunch of new ones, albeit with a twist: they’re green. Get it? I know, simple, but it works. And who likes waiting? Not us, either, so if you’d like one, take a moment to get one right now, and show off you true colors all year.


(Shown here on a camper out in our back parking lot, next to an oooold school Woodsy Owl sticker, remember him?)