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All The News That's Fit To Burn : 2007 Summer Newsletter

How Green Can You Get?

Let's be realistic. The playa isn't green. It's more of a taupe or ecru — a beige sort of hue. The greenest native thing that you are likely to encounter in the desert is a praying mantis. Sometimes they're blown here from the vegetated margin of the playa, but this isn't their home. This is an alkaline environment, inimical to nearly every form of living thing. That is why we're asking you, in this greenest of years, to refrain from bringing plants, both living and dried, to the desert. Petals, twigs, fronds, leaves, twigs, twining tendrils, flaking bark — all of these are inappropriate.

Live Plants Are MOOP

In the harsh heat of the desert, lush, leafy plants quickly become crispy MOOP (Matter out of Place) waiting to be blown across the playa, and dried plants inevitably break up into millions of impossible-to-contain fragments. Do yourselves and the playa restoration crew a favor: please leave your plants at home! Should you crave leafy greens, consider using artificial plants with well attached limbs and leaves, and, if your plant pal is a cactus, the MOOP equivalent of an allergen-free dog, you are welcome to bring it. Just make sure it's well secured and won't tumble away in a gale. This same advice applies to everything within your camp; cups and plates, strewn clothing, stray paper — the litter of everyday life. These things should be weighted down and carefully secured.


This year the back street of our city is named Landfill. However, gentle reader, this is irony — it doesn't mean this street's a public dump. There are no garbage cans in Black Rock City. We are a Leave No Trace event. You are responsible for every particle within the matter stream you generate. In order to fulfill this responsibility, consider this motto: Don't let it hit on the ground! If a slice of melon tips over, strewing seeds in the dust, or a zip tie flies out of your hand, please stop and retrieve what you've dropped. This is called "clean as you go." As you hasten to pack and go home, it's easy to leave such minutia behind.

Pack Smart

Another technique is to start at the source. While packing your car, remove the excess packaging that your food and supplies come in: cereal boxes, blister packs of batteries — all of the effluvia of our consumer culture. Choose cans over bottles, reusable containers over both, and avoid perishables whenever possible. The playa may not be green, but you can be greener, if you try. For many other helpful suggestions, consult our survival guide. Please see how to reduce trash for more information.