VEDA #9 Leave No Trace – Transcript (Takes about 12 minutes to view)
Hello, and welcome to Penguin’s Wanderlust. Burning Man advice is what I’m doing this month for VEDA (Vlog Every Day in April challenge). So today I though I would start on Burning Man’s 10 Principles.
Larry wrote these originally to give some guidance for the regional events. The one we’re going to discuss today is “Leaving no trace”. Most people are familiar with this concept “Pack it in, pack it out”.
What it says on the official burningman.org page is for leaving no trace:
Burning Man Principle: Leave No Trace
“Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.”
MOOP (Matter Out Of Place)
So there’s a word that the burners use and they call it MOOP. So MOOP is “Matter Out Of Place”.
If you’re walking along and you see a beer can on the ground, then that is matter out of place, that is moop. So you would pick it up and take it with you. It’s kind of getting rid of litter.
The reason this is really relevant to going to Burning Man is that the Black Rock Desert is basically a park. It falls under the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Burning Man has a contract which says for every square foot of space there’s only allowed to be left over so much stuff that shouldn’t be there. We get marked on our performance in cleaning up. So it’s very important for all participants that go to Burning Man events to make sure that you’re part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Before You Go
Dispose of Extra Packaging
So before you head off to the Playa, the first thing you can do is if you’ve bought anything new, remove any extra packaging that you can and get rid of it in garbage cans in Reno or wherever you’re coming. Don’t wait until you’re on the Playa to unwrap something. Also don’t buy anything out of styrofoam. Do not buy styrofoam coolers. Stuff like that. You don’t want anything that’s going to break into a million pieces and be impossible to pick up.
Avoid Bringing Feathers, Glass, Loose Pieces of Paper
Avoid feathers especially boas. Up until about three years ago feathers were on the banned item list for Burning Man. You weren’t allowed to bring feathers and yet there was always someone who would have a feather headress or there would be those two girls that dance by the Temple at sunrise every morning. They have feather costumes, wings, and a big dress part and people used to kind of call them the playa chickens. Because they were breaking the rules but saying that no our feathers are like really tied on and they’re fine. But now apparently you can have feathers but please do not bring boas.
Avoid glass bottles and loose pieces of paper. Like for Art Model Camp we buy drawing pads so there won’t be people with just loose pieces of paper. If you look at the Survival Guide for Burning Man you’ll see that you’re not supposed to bring glass or loose paper.
Don’t Let it Hit The Ground
So while you’re at Burning Man the concept is don’t let anything hit the ground. Keep the ground clear. If you do drop something on the ground as I saw at the March of a Billion Bunnies: They were gifting carrot juice the one year. Some of it spilled onto the Playa. They kicked the Playa dust onto it and then they bagged the whole mess to take home and away. So that’s the thing – you clean up and you take away anything that’s fallen on the ground that shouldn’t be there.
Some people like to carry a MOOP bag- have a little cloth bag and as they’re going along if they see that there’s like a beer can on the ground, they’ll pick it up, and put it in the MOOP bag and remove it.
Sometimes you can find what we call Swag – things that you get that are fun to get. Sometimes you can find pretty neat stuff that somebody else has dropped on the Playa and you have something new. If you want to see if the former owner still wants it then you can post it on the lost and found when you get home.
The portapotties – Burning Man only gives us roads and portapotties so don’t abuse the portapotties. Never put anything that didn’t come out of your body into a portapotty. I’ve been at regional events and seen somebody has dropped a beer can into the portapotty. Do not be that person because that is not a good burner that is a bad person because those things choke up the hoses. The guys that come to clean out the portapotties have to actually reach their arm into the portapotty and pull that out to unclog it. So don’t do that to them. They’re on like their last choice of portapotty people. Other years in the past they had them quit on them and the piles just kept getting higher and higher. So do not abuse the portapotties.
No pooping or peeing on the Playa
Portapotties aren’t everywhere. They are not way out in the deep Playa where Robot Heart likes to hang out. No pooping or peeing on the Playa. And that means you, Robot Heart ravers. You go to a portapotty like everyone else. And if someone tells you that Daft Punk is playing at the Trash Fence question whether you really need to go and see them.
No Garbage Pickup
When you’re leaving do not leave garbage bags full of garbage outside the portapotties. Don’t leave a mound of stuff anywhere. There’s no garbage pickup. Nobody wants to clean up after you. As they always say “Your mother isn’t here”. And again you want to leave the place better than you found it. So before you leave your camping spot you walk around and you do what’s called a MOOP sweep to make sure that nothing’s left behind and you take it with you.
Don’t Abandon Bicycles
Do not abandon your bicycle on the Playa. That’s not how it’s done. Find out how it’s done before you go. The green yellow bike program – they only accept one particular type of bike – a Huffy of a particular type. If you are thinking you might not want to bring your bike back make sure you get the type that is appropriate for the bike program. But otherwise you take your bike out of there. I think there is a place in Gerlach, the next town out, where you can donate your bicycle.
Sprinkle Clean Water Only
The only thing that you can do with water, if it’s grey water or black water – you’re taking it home. Clean water from a cooler – you can sprinkle on the road. They have water trucks that go and water the roads occasionally. Do not shower using those – the frog water as they call it from a frog pond. It’s not that clean.
If you have any rebar that you have hammered into the Playa and you can’t get it out – do not leave it. Go and find help. You have to get that rebar out. I have seen people leave rebar in. Do not do that.
Off Playa Afterwards
Drop off Garbage for a Small Fee
Off Playa you can turn right just before Gerlach and you can pay to get rid of your garbage there. So you don’t have to take it very far. But don’t abandon it on the side of the road somewhere. Do not dump all your extra water on the side of the road. Do not go and fill up a dumpster with twenty dumpsters worth. That’s been done other years too. You need to make sure that you don’t make the towns around the Playa angry at us. We have to keep a good community spirit there. That means we can’t abuse their good nature.
DPW MOOP Sweep of Black Rock City
After the event the Department of Public Works (DPW) stay behind a month and they do a MOOP sweep of the entirety of Black Rock City. They remove anything that’s there. They put on a map anything that they found. Camps with a red mark on the MOOP map will have their following year’s placement affected. So if you’re on the Esplanade and you want to stay on the Esplanade then don’t leave stuff behind. Take it with you. And do not drop your couch from your camp at somebody else’s nice clean already pristine area. Like don’t litter on other people’s camps and get them in trouble for something they didn’t do. I’ve seen that happen too.
Shout Out to DPW
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decide whether Burning Man can happen next year based on how good the cleanup is. And our DPW – a shout out for DPW – they do a fantastic job cleaning up. So thank you all you moopers at the end and thank you for all of you people that don’t litter.
Anyway that’s today’s lesson. Kind of preachy but it’s really important. To see last year’s MOOP Map look here: