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Burning Man = Plastic Man?

May 31, 2010

So I’ve been making a concerted effort to reduce my plastic consumption and I flatter myself that I’ve done a pretty good job.  I have become addicted instead to my wonderful Purica double-walled stainless coffee thermos, have successfully made canvas bags a part of my daily routine for all shopping, not just groceries, and can’t remember the last time I used plastic wrap let alone bought any.  Plastic shopping bags still somehow invade my home, usually brought in by unsuspecting friends whom I try my best not to cringe in front of as they walk through my door with their dinner party offering (or what have you) smothered in the offending item, but I don’t let it get me too down.

However, I am planning to go to Burning Man for the first time ever this year, and the amount of personal plastic I will likely be required to bring is truly staggering, almost to the point of total despair.  And I’m not even going for the entire week!  I’ve been poring through various BM guides and in order to keep out the playa dust, I will likely have to encase everything in some form or other of plastic.  Just thinking about the logistics of packing for the trip makes me feel a lot like Ms. Plastic Manners in her wonderful new short film:

Stop [Plastic] Motion
from Taina Uitto on Vimeo.

But what other material could possibly match plastic for these circumstances?  The playa dust gets EVERYWHERE and I suspect I will be ingesting quite enough of that simply by breathing without drinking it, eating it, and sleeping in it as well.  I will also need to bring a LOT of water which will be heavy enough on its own, never mind putting it in a glass carbouy.  Plus, the plastic water containers can be squished down once the water is consumed thus saving space in my teeny, tiny little Honda Civic.

I will likely invest in quite a few more air-tight stainless steel containers but the thought of the amount of plastic that I will likely be taking with me in the form of tarps and such is getting a bit overwhelming!  If anyone has any thoughts of how to minimize plastic at Burning Man, please leave a comment.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2010 7:01 pm

    Really decent post… I love it. Keep ’em coming… 🙂

  2. Nancy F permalink
    May 31, 2010 11:30 pm

    Just one small suggestion. Burning Man participants might consider not attending the 2010 event and use your petrol dollars saved to travel to the Burning Gulf and volunteer your phenomenal energy and/or send a few bucks to Gulf environmental groups. Check out Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Gulf
    The world is burning. Maybe it’s time for the Burning Man folk to come out of the desert and bring their beautiful energies to the Urgency of Now we all entered together April 20, 2010…

  3. Nancy F permalink
    May 31, 2010 11:57 pm

    Also, the Gulf Restoration Network:
    is a great place to get a local feel for what is happening, as well as volunteer info.
    Link up to the local newspapers in the gulf and check daily for updates. A great newspaper is the Pulitzer prize winning Louisana Picayune at

  4. Kimberly Szuminski permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:05 am

    Hold a contest so that the design that uses the most recycled materials (including plastic) will win money! (For the Burning Man plastic consumption problem)

  5. Kimberly Szuminski permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:09 am

    Oopps Im not sure if I read your column correctly……. let me think about this again…

  6. Kimberly Szuminski permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:33 am

    Is there anyway you may reduce your plastic consumption in your design…like more negative space…? (better for the environment…)… but I’m sure it is too late for that AND I’m sure your design is amazingly beautiful the way it is…. SO… maybe… using bed sheets? would that work…? Hope I may be of help… I have never been to burning man and I am just now learning about it…. let me keep thinking….. and good luck! Im sure you will think of something …. !!

  7. karen permalink
    June 1, 2010 4:27 pm

    thx kimberly & nancy. it’s my first time so i’m not going to be bringing an installation or an art piece, i’m more concerned with the physical logistics of simply existing in the playa for 3 or 4 days with as little plastic as possible.

  8. June 3, 2010 4:05 pm

    really well said – I travelled for a wedding last weekend and tried so hard to avoid plastic but it’s EVERYWHERE in airports and with the current security you can’t even bring your own things

    even items that used to be in glass are now in plastic… good luck!

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