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    Greening Your Burn    

Tools, Tips and Techniques to Reduce your Environmental Impact and Improve your Burning Man Experience.

This is an early version of what we hope will become a comprehensive guide for artists, theme camps, and participants who want to green their burn.  Questions, comments, additions, feedback? We?d love it.
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Planning some art? Building a theme camp? Work smarter, use renewable or reclaimed resources, and consider the full cycle of impact of your project.  Remember: the simplest way to insure that you leave no trace is to plan ahead and prepare. The right materials, tools, and supplies can make all the difference.

The 6 R?s of Greening the Burn are;	Respect - Rethink - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle and Restore.

Here are some quick tips to consider: 

** Plan to use recycled and repurposed materials in planning your art and your camp. 

** Use alternative energy sources and/or offset carbon emissions associated with transportation and energy use.
**Design your project for reuse, easy deconstruction and salvage, and recycling?use screws instead of nails! 

** Coordinate with other artists to share transportation and energy generation. 


First things first: using used materials in your art is hella eco-friendly, and often hella cheap!

Bay/Regional resources for recycling/reused information include the following (most municipalities have their own recycling coordinators that can direct residents to local resources):

The above URLs will have some but probably not all of the following used building materials dealers:

The Reuse People
Whole House Building Supply
The Reusable Lumber Co.
Building Resources
This & That (San Pablo)
Urban Ore
C&K Salvage (Oakland)
Garbage Reincarnation
Caldwell?s (mostly new and some used)
Ohmega Salvage

These local organizations sell inexpensive donated materials for art projects:

East Bay Depots for Creative Reuse

The Build it Green Product and Service Directory also provides some useful information:

Here?s even more sources for cheap and free stuff:

And, wouldn't want to leave out the online exchanges:


Need new stuff?  Many bay area hardware stores carrying green products; the stores can be located by referring to the 

Paint, Finishes, and Flooring:

Buyer's Guide to Paints -
This buyer's guide lists and reviews low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints. Use it to find the best paint for your specific situation.

Buyer's Guide to Stains -
This buyer's guide summarizes the environmental pros and cons and durability of the three major categories of wood stains: natural oil, acrylic or urethane, and water-based. Use it to find the best stain for your specific situation.

Buyer's Guide to Clear Finishes -
This buyer's guide compares and contrasts clear finishes on their environmental and health qualities, and includes selection tips.  Use it to find the best clear coating for your specific situation.

There is an excellent store in Berkeley for low-toxicity paints and coatings called Eco-Home Improvement. 

For a comprehensive, 9 county Bay Area directory of suppliers for environmentally friendly flooring materials an products, visit Build It Green's AccessGreen Directory -

What Not To Use:

In addition to painted wood, plywood, and particle/composite board, DO NOT use or burn pressure treated lumber.  Typically, though not always, it has staple-like impregnation marks in it, and if it's new it may have a greenish tint. Not only is the smoke from certain types of pressure-treated lumber toxic, but also so is the ash.
Powering your playa life:

How to power your camp and/or your art is an important decision, and there are lots of options. They include renewable energy such as solar and wind, bio-fuels such as Biodiesel and ethanol, even human power is available, in addition to the same old Honda Generator.

Renewable Energy: ? Alternative Energy Zone. AEZ -  See how they live off the grid without generators. Learn  about alternatives to Glow Sticks. E mail Jolly Roger - Mayor of Alternative Energy Zone at  ? These are the people responsible for providing the solar system at the recent Do Lab event Lightning In A Bottle. Our good friends at the Solar Living Institute pretty much rock this topic better than anyone else, and they?re super easy to work with.

Biodiesel: - Contact Don Gray at for Biodiesel generators for large Theme Camps, 50Kw and up.
Bently Biofuels of Minden, NV will provide solutions to fueling up en route and in Black Rock City. 

Biodiesel Fueling Locator:

Other Clean Energy Options:  - Portal for many great resources. A large group of concerned BRC citizens banded together to assist all participants to burn clean. - Cooling Man has been working to make many events and projects carbon neutral and even carbon negative. They can work with you to make your camp carbon neutral. Thank you Cooling Man! - Portal for many great resources for Biodiesel and veggie oils conversion questions.


Ahhhh, lighting. Nothing adds mood like lights. The little suckers also have a nasty appetite for power though ?but they don?t need to!

When choosing strands of lights to make your camp or art project dazzle at night, choose LED?s. They?ll suck less juice from your generator and last year after year. And if one light goes out, the rest of the strand should continue working. Look for fun light ropes and other LED lighting products.

Sources of LED String Lights (search LED) and see link for store locations

* Use compact fluorescent lamps instead of regular incandescent, which are available at most hardware stores?many are now for sale for only .50 cents! They reduce energy use by about 2/3s. And remember: lights should be removed before art projects and camp  set-ups are burned since they may contain PVC wire or toxic heavy metals.

* Use rechargeable batteries, which are available at many hardware stores (such as Orchard Supply Hardware) and drugstores (such as Walgreen?s).

* Using LED blinky toys? Get the ones that have replaceable batteries so the whole toy doesn't have to be thrown away when the battery gives out. Be aware that some of these have exposed lead solder on the outside.

Other resources:
Light God:
Color Kinetics:
There are many, run a search on LED lighting or just LED?s and see where it takes you.

Learn More:

Earth Guardians: or contact Karina O?Connor (EG Projects coordinator)

Recycle Camp: Or contact

Greening The Burn: A virtual environmental Think Tank. Or contact


* Minimize Playa Penetration - Do not dig holes in the playa. Small postholes (6 inches or less in diameter) used for structural support are the sole exception. Larger holes leave a visible scar and create a safety hazard. All holes must be refilled and packed down solid.

* Use a ground cloth when working in the open to catch debris and small bits of Matter Out Of Place (MOOP). A $20 tarp can save you hours of bending over picking up fragments and scraps of woodchips and sawdust.

* No Flying Art - Attach everything to your art installation well, so that nothing comes off in the wind and becomes MOOP.  Do not include items, even ?natural? items that could break off, dry out, or fall apart and make a nasty mess to clean up. Dead or dried plants are especially a pain in the ass to clean up-please don?t use them.

* Protect Your Art From Attracting MOOP - Beautiful and interesting art, such as yours, attracts crowds. Large crowds may inadvertently leave MOOP behind. And, once MOOP begins, it breeds! Regularly grid and sweep your art-space to prevent MOOP from accumulating. Do what you can to discourage folks from leaving cigarette butts, bottles, and other trash behind. Avoid including any horizontal surfaces at arm level; they attract bottles and cans, especially on Saturday night. Don?t let accumulated MOOP distract people from interacting with and appreciating the art that you worked so hard to create.

 * Don?t Burn on the Unprotected Playa - Burning directly on the alkaline playa BAKES the surface into a dark, hard, brick-like material. Don?t do it! If you want to burn your art, use a burn blanket or elevate your art on a large piece of corrugated sheet metal. Make sure the base is big enough to catch all falling burning wood.

 * Don?t Burn Anything That Releases Toxic Fumes ? If you are burning your art piece, do not include PVC (nasty dioxins are released), carpets, plastic, furniture or painted wood in the sections to be burned. 

* Do not overload the burn platforms - With large pieces of art, have tools on hand to break your piece into smaller pieces before loading it onto the public burn platforms. Try to help clean up anything you burn on the public burn platforms.


Salvage - Take the extra effort after Burning Man to bring your extra wood and other camp building materials to re-use/salvage centers, rather than burning or taking to a dump. - is planning to once again collect used, and usable, building materials at the end of the event?contact them for details.  The burn platforms are for public burning of art projects, not left over wood you don't want anymore and especially not couches, carpet and PVC.  After breaking camp, be sure to sweep the area with a magnet rake for any loose bits of metal.  Donate unwanted costumes and supplies to friends and camp mates?it doesn?t need to just go in the trash!

Seek out recycling & salvage centers along your route home. Here are 2 links: - enter zip code to find nearest  location.

If all else fails:

RSW Recycling
1100 East Commercial Row - 775-329-8822 - (Grand Sierra Resort - Reno Hilton)

Reno Salvage Company 
301 Montello - 775-323-7109 - (Grand Sierra Resort - Reno Hilton)
For updates and info, contact scott at planttrees dot org.