19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

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19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby Karima Cherif » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:51 pm

Reducing your Plastic foot-print at Burning Man


The prevailing spirit of the Burning Man is “radical self-reliance” and “leave no trace”. With an anticipated attendance of 68,000 this year, many of you are feeling the excitement, the crunch around planning and preparation. This is usually when the most “rushed” plastic purchases happen. The most important concept is to "pre-cycle" meaning reduce the amount of disposable products and packaging that you bring in the first place so you've not just packing it out of the playa and dumping it somewhere else. Recycling is not the best solution for source reduction because it mostly gets shipped
China and is very polluting overseas. The less you take, the less you have to bring back and clean.
Three main areas are the greatest contributors to plastic pollution:
• Water Storage
• Food
• Costuming and Gifts

The Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of people, organizations, and business worldwide, working to eliminate plastic pollution. We have compiled some stats and suggestions to help minimize the “plastic” trace on the playa. Don't get overwhelmed, just start with an easy tip that you are sure you can do, like taking your mug to Center Cafe.

Around the world only 2-8% of plastic waste is actually recycled. Often, Burning Man recycling ends up at a waste management facility in Reno. Keep in mind, that even though you may not be leaving a trace on the playa, you will be leaving a trace elsewhere on the planet. Plastic is a material that never goes away. Every bit of plastic ever made is still with us on this planet. The items you bring to Burning Man will stay behind you for the generations to come, even if you collect them for recycling. Even though we will turn to dust, the plastic will not.

POTENTIAL TOTAL PLASTIC POLLUTION IMPACT
for 2013 Burning Man, est. 68,000 attendees
Plastic Item Estimated Total

1 gallon bottles 503,200
8 oz. plastic bottles
(water, electrolytes, soda, juice) 1,480,000
plastic utensils 2,955,600
plastic plates 879,600
plastic cups 1,480,000
straws 503,200
bowls 305, 000
5 gallon bottles (showering and dishes) 816,000
20 gallon drums 16,380


The chart above is a conservative estimation of potential plastic pollution that may be created during 2013’s Burning Man, unless we rally in these finally preparation days, and focus on informed choices. For many burners, old and new, keeping costs down is an important aspect of being able to make it out to the “Dust Rave”, so several of the suggestions below are affordable options. Granted, some of the items may seem pricey, but please consider the n,m long-term impact to health and to the planet.

Radical self-reliance means that you have the power to impact our planet with your purchasing choices over the next few weeks.

These helpful suggestions where a combined effort by Beth Terry from http://www.myplasticfreelife.com, Karima Cherif, plastic free event coordinator for the Plastic Pollution Coalition http://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org, and Earth Guardians http://www.earthguardians.net.
We will also be on the BMIR radio at 11 am on Friday, August, 30th, 2013.
You can also attend workshops at Earth Guardians with Beth Terry.
Workshops and Events at Earth Guardians:

http://www.earthguardians.net/volunteer_events.htm

Plastic Free Burning Man Workshops:

August 28th, 2013 1:00pm-2:00pm
August 31th, 2012 2:00-3:00pm

19 Plastic-Free Playa Tips:


1) Bring water in stainless steel containers. As you can see in the post, we used stainless steel iced tea containers last year because they were less expensive than double-walled alternatives. But for people who go to Burning Man regularly, you might want to invest in something like this:

Here are a myraid of choices. http://www.thefind.com/kitchen/info-vintage-metal-cooler
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Super-Chef-10-Gallon-Thermal-Stainless-Beverage-Dispenser-/111081608564

Often people fill their containers in Gerlach so they didn't have to transport heavy water the entire way from the Bay Area. Keep any plastic that contains water in the shade, as the sunlight expedites the chemicals leaching into your water like Phthalates and Bisphenol A.

When setting up your camp kitchen or bar, request that everyone BYO Cup, Plate, and reusable utensils. Avoid stir sticks and straws, unless you can get bamboo stir sticks, and paper straws. http://www.sustyparty.com

2) Buy food from bulk bins in your own containers. We bought all kinds of dried soups, hummus, beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. from the bulk bins at Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. You can use jars, cloth bags, and stainless steel containers to avoid all forms of plastic packaging.

3) Borrow or buy things secondhand instead of buying new. You can put an ad on Freecycle or Yerdle to get flashlights and goggles. Unless you go to Burning Man every year or camp a lot, there might be quite a few things that you don't actually need to own.

4) Bring stainless steel water bottles / travel mug to carry with you at all time so you never have to take disposables. You can get them at second hand stores, or time permitting http://www.plasticantidote.com.

5) Also... carry reusable utensils and food container at all times since wherever you go on the playa, someone seems to always be offering food. Bamboo utensil set (although a good spork would take up even less space in your day bag) and a stainless steel Lunchbot container. www. plasticantidote.com or http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com

6) Bring plastic-free sunscreen. Here is my review of the two sunscreens I used on the playa -- Avasol and Balm! Baby. And also other methods for keeping the sun off without resorting to toxic chemical sunscreens in plastic bottles: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2012/09/plastic-free-sunscreen-that-passes-the-burning-man-test/

7) Make your own "wet wipes". Image
If you do decide to go with wet wipes, get the flexible exteriors instead of the hard plastic boxes.

8) You can acquire discounted non-plastic food storage containers at restaurant supply places, army surplus, or http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com

9) Speaking of vinyl, avoid it. It is PVC, one of the most toxic plastics, containing hormone-disrupting phthalates and producing dioxin when manufactured and burned. It off gases terribly, especially in the heat. Don't make costumes out of it. Try to avoid it in tents and other equipment if you can.

10) Consider a vintage canvas and wood camping cot. Available on eBay. No plastic, and secondhand. Here's my blog post about it: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2012/09/night-at-the-aquarium-on-a-plastic-free-camping-cot/

11) If your camp is going to be providing food to the public, reduce waste by FIRST encouraging people to use their own reusable cups/containers (Ask, "Do you have your mug? Do you have your plate?" Or whatever.) Then, instead of bringing disposable plastic cups or even cups and plates that are paper coated with plastic, look into certified non-G.M.O. compostable alternatives. Here is one site providing some better options: http://www.sustyparty.com/

12) Use lip balm that comes in a compostable cardboard tube instead of plastic. The original brand to do this was Organic Essence. There are also some Etsy sellers now selling lip balm in the same compostable tubes. http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/12/plastic-free-organic-essence-lip-balm-body-cream-give-away/

13) Toothpaste: There are plastic-free options: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/08/searching-for-the-perfect-all-natural-plastic-free-toothpaste-or-powder-or-soap-or/ Lush Toothy Tabs in a cardboard box. EcoDent is a quality floss that comes in a sturdy cardboard box available in most health food stores like Whole Foods, and here http://plasticantidote.com/eco-dent-gentle-floss

14) Toothbrush -- bring a bamboo one. My favorite brand is Brush with Bamboo, although the bristles are Nylon. http://www.brushwithbamboo.com/

15) Skip the disposable plastic glow sticks.

16) Ice -- instead of ice in plastic bags -- you can fill up metal containers with water and freeze for ice chest.

17) Compost -- explain how to collect their compostables and hanging compost to dry reduces the weight of your compost. There's not compost collection at Burning Man.

18) Avoid bringing plastic bags to the playa because they blow away too easily. Includes plastic grocery bags and plastic trash bags.

19) Most important concept is to "pre-cycle" meaning reduce the amount of disposable products and packaging that you bring in the first place so you've not just packing it out of the playa and dumping it somewhere else. Recycling is not the best solution for plastic waste because it mostly gets shipped to China and is very polluting overseas. Do you want to include this kind of information on the website? Here is a blog post I wrote several years ago and updated recently listing all the problems with plastic: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2007/07/pl ... knew-that/
Get a cotton tent. Maybe this tip is for next year. Check out Beth Terry’s plastic-free guide for a lot more ideas about avoiding plastic in general: http://www.PlasticfreeGuide.com Also... Website: http://www.MyPlasticFreeLife.com

Food Tips:

TetraPak soups are not recyclable.

Choose foods that come in BPA-Free Cans, such as Amy’s, Nijiya Market Brand, Muir Glen, Whole Foods Markets 365 brands, Wild Planet, Eden Organics, Native Forest, Vital Choice Mackrel and Sardines, Bionaturae canned tomatoes. And some Trader Joe’s.

Replenishing your electrolytes:

Raw coconut water has a ton of electrolytes and potassium.
Coconut water in tetrapaks is lined with plastic that leaches, and is not recyclable.
Purchase it in cans. However, some of the really hard cans are not recyclable.

Pickles, Olives, celery in glass jars are a great snack on the playa, that resource your electrolytes.

Snacks ideas for your day pack:

• Chia sees are an incredible energy food full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.
• Dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and nuts in bulk is an easy way to give you energy for biking across playa in the sun.
• Homemade beef jerky, you don’t need a dehydrator.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/homemade-beef-jerky-recipe/index.html

Other Playa food ideas:

Foods that do not require plastic packaging, and will last till later in the week:

Potatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, coconuts, carrots, onions, squash, cabbage, banana, lemons, limes, garlic, watermelon, pineapple, apples, oranges all, do well on the playa.

Storing vegetables and fruit in damp burlap bags ensure good ventilation and reduce the need for refrigeration.

Make a fruit compote at the end of the week from left over fruit like apples, plums and lemons.
Squeeze Lemon and Lime juice at home and put in reusable containers. Avoid buying those plastic lemons with juice.


Condiments that don’t require plastic packaging:

Soy Sauce/Tamari, wasabi, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar,salt, pepper, sesame oil, sesame seeds, coconut oil, other cooking oils, raw Honey in a tin or glass, hot sauce, horseradish, pickles, olives, bulk falafel mix ,bulk tahini and hummus mix nutritional yeast (available in bulk), bulk popcorn, and bulk granola.

Getting bulk dried beans, means you will have less trash.

Bring your own Sodastream for carbonated water and beverages. (Fresh lemon or lime, or cherry and pomegranate syrup)
Sodastream now carries a glass carafe.http://www.sodastreamusa.com/Penguin-Glass-Carafe-P234.aspx

We recommend getting your aluminum cans of beer, wine bottles without corks, and alcohol in glass.
You can make you’re your margarita mix http://tideandthyme.com/diy-margarita-mix/
Stainless dish rack, cast iron pans, biodegradable bar of soap, cloth napkins, toothpicks,

Santa Cruz Organics makes a variety of juices in glass, hibiscus cooler, passion fruit nectar, limeade, cranberry nectar, red tart cherry, lemon ginger echinacea.

Make your own apple cider or purchase in glass.
http://fromscratchclub.com/2011/09/30/diy-apple-cider-from-tree-to-tummy/

Aluminum trays for lasagna or meatloaf/veggie loaf frozen at home and placed at the bottom of your cooler will keep the rest of your food without wasting space for ice.

Nothing like greeting the sunrise on the playa with a cold glass of pressed orange juice that you can also press at home and freeze. Many people store large burlap bags of beans, lentils and rice on a pallet with a reusable cover.

Large baskets (available in thrift stores) work great for small food containers, spices and supplies.

White vinegar is sold in glass and is great for everything to sanitation to taking care of your feet.
Grapefruit seed extract is a great germ killer, and substitute for bleach.

One jar of “Better than Bouillon” can last you an entire burn, and takes care of “playa throat”. Coconut oil (available in jars) on your feet before bed ensure you will not get playa” foot”. Cloth Bulk bags are great for your dried goods.http://www.ecobags.com/Our_Products/Produce_Bags

Chicken Tikka Masala and red chicken curry can be premade frozen and plastic-free.

Contrary to many people’s beliefs, you can safely freeze food in glass mason jars if you leave the top inch free for the liquid to expand. It would be nice to know your playa dinner isn’t leaching harmful chemicals into your body.
Tips for 2014:

This year, Plastic Pollution Coalition facilitated two camps with attaining sustainably sourced, affordable, plastic-free playa “schwag”. Both Dustfish, and Flaming Lotus Girls were able to use this merchandise to raise funds for their theme camps, and ensure that these long lasting gifts would be useful for years to come. The Plastic Pollution Coalition can help your theme camp by getting the best pricing through our contacts, and acquiring in large quantities. Please contact Karima Cherif at karima@plasticpollutioncoalition.org. We will be sending a query email after Decompression for 2014.
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby danibel » Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:12 am

This is great. I try to reduce my use of plastic all the time, not just on the playa. One thing at the end there though, you repeatedly mention glass, and glass can be a huge bummer on the playa. We are encouraging our campers to bring beer in cans if possible, and box wines as well. But telling people to bring Santa Cruz Organic juices in small glass bottles might not not be the best advice.

Perhaps recommending easy glass clean up kit along with the other tips would be a good idea? (Flat head shovel and a reusable 5 gallon bucket with lid) I know the glass clean up kit contains plastic, but people should plan for possible breakage. It happens.
In dust we trust.
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Water

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:18 pm

Karima Cherif wrote:1) Bring water in stainless steel containers. As you can see in the post, we used stainless steel iced tea containers last year because they were less expensive than double-walled alternatives. But for people who go to Burning Man regularly, you might want to invest in something like this:

Here are a myraid of choices. http://www.thefind.com/kitchen/info-vintage-metal-cooler
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Super-Chef-10-Gallon-Thermal-Stainless-Beverage-Dispenser-/111081608564

Often people fill their containers in Gerlach so they didn't have to transport heavy water the entire way from the Bay Area. Keep any plastic that contains water in the shade, as the sunlight expedites the chemicals leaching into your water like Phthalates and Bisphenol A.

When setting up your camp kitchen or bar, request that everyone BYO Cup, Plate, and reusable utensils. Avoid stir sticks and straws, unless you can get bamboo stir sticks, and paper straws. http://www.sustyparty.com


BUMP...

This was a "too long, didn't read" for me, partly because it was August and I didn't have any time or energy to go shopping for 10 gallon stainless steel containers. In fact, I'm pretty certain that I couldn't manage a five gallon one...
But maybe if it's posted earlier when the prep is beginning, and only one item at a time, and without that huge chunk of explanation as to why Karima Cherif supports it, maybe it becomes useful, rather than onerous...
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Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby unjonharley » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:39 pm

I think this (no) glass has been blown out of proportion.. Don't take glass out of your camp is a better idea.. I use glass and stainless steel for food and drink on the playa and in the profane world.. I use two (hard) plastic coolers to transport water.. Just sold them at my garage sale.. Will buy two new for this year for TTITD.. Also have bamboo cooking and eating utensils so i don't damage the porcelain/glass cook ware...
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:32 pm

I pretty much say no glass on here because I don't want to give anyone the idea that I approve of taking glass that you are not going to take care of.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby trilobyte » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:22 am

Re-reading this, I'm giving it a nudge over to Leave No Trace, since I think that's a better fit.

The issue with glass, of course, is that if something breaks you end up with difficult (if not impossible to see) pieces and shards in the playa dust, which may or may not be blowing around at the time. In my personal opinion the trick is to avoid bringing easily breakable glasses (fine drinking glasses, for example), and keep the glass you do bring in a relatively safe atmosphere. Most of us find our way around our aversion to glass when it comes to liquor bottles and wine bottles and manage to survive without breakage, so using mason jars and other durable containers should be just as successful. I stick to canned beer over bottled beer though, since a hand-held beverage is more likely to leave camp with the person drinking it, and between the weight of the empty and the risk of breakage it's just something I don't want to deal with (the empty can squishes flat and weighs next to nothing in my pack if I"m out).

My girlfriend and I have been taking more of a 'controlled use of plastics' approach (as opposed to an outright ban). We invested in some heavier-duty BPA (and other nasty chemicals)-free reusable plastic containers for our water. No toxic chemicals leaching, and nothing going into a landfill because we keep and use them again and again (we use a couple of them year-round as part of our earthquake kit, but east coasters could do the same with their hurricane/tornado/emergency kits). Buying them cost a bit more up front compared to the cheap water bottles, but after 2-3 burns they'll have paid for themselves. The water bottles we carry around with us on the playa are also BPA-free, and something we're able to use year after year (as well as throughout the year). My rethink about plastics have led us to give more thought about not just the playa, but year-round as well. We try to be a bit more mindful about things like containers and packaging and reusability... we're not big consumers to begin with, but every little bit helps.
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby unjonharley » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:56 am

I keep my ready to mix foods in quart jars.. Leave the jars in there own cardboard boxes.. At home the boxes fits nicely in a bottom drawer.. For TTITD I use a wooden box that receives the the cardboard boxes.. To make a meal i take one jar out at a time, use it and return it.. I have been practicing, eating dried foods of all kinds.. Trying to go with less to no cooler on the desert run.. For the cooler, I freeze water in containers that fit into the cooler.. A mid size cooler holds four/five gallon of cooking and drinkable water.. For Bm I use two coolers and a five gallon shower bag.. (about 14 gal).. Knowing I can by more ice if needed is nice..
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:48 pm

Well, here's a tip from the hippies:
2) Buy food from bulk bins in your own containers. We bought all kinds of dried soups, hummus, beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. from the bulk bins at Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. You can use jars, cloth bags, and stainless steel containers to avoid all forms of plastic packaging.


I don't go to Whole Foods. a) It's not called "Whole Paycheck" for nothing, b) But that's not passed on to the people who work there.
Personal preference. In San Francisco, there's Rainbow Grocery, of course, but a lot of places have bulk bins. Winco, I think. Does anyone know if there are any places like that in Reno?
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"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby unjonharley » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:26 pm

Wi(n)co (Nevada)
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby BBadger » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:57 pm

This post has some nice ideas, but I think concentrating on plastic as the enemy misses the mark.

Plastic is awesome. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's one of mankind's greatest modern inventions. The real issue here is about using reusable containers and reducing waste. Why not retitle this to "Ways to reduce waste." Plus, just because something isn't plastic doesn't necessarily mean a non-plastic object is going to be much better. "Flushable" wipes aren't plastic, but are going to wreck the toilets just as bad. You also don't want to have wooden or leafy objects that may break and litter the playa. Metals don't insulate either, so I'm not about to bring a metal cooler. Wood is heavy as well, forget wooden storage crates; it leaves a mess too. They're not waterproof either.

I sure as hell am not bringing glass or metal plates and bowls to the playa. Even if the glass were unbreakable, glass is heavy and unbendable. Who wants vintage canvas for a cot? That stuff is heavy and uncomfortable. Even the most foldable cot is bigger than my plastic air mattress. The blanket I'd use would probably not be all natural either. I sure as hell won't be using a heavy, non-plastic-based tent. My Nalgene bottle I got for $2 is just as usable as the $3 metal water bottle I got at some other thrift store.

But all that stuff above is reusable stuff, so I think I'd be good to go.
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Re: 19 Plastic Free Playa Tips

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:02 pm

BBadger wrote:This post has some nice ideas, but I think concentrating on plastic as the enemy misses the mark.

Plastic is awesome. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's one of mankind's greatest modern inventions. The real issue here is about using reusable containers and reducing waste. Why not retitle this to "Ways to reduce waste." Plus, just because something isn't plastic doesn't necessarily mean a non-plastic object is going to be much better. "Flushable" wipes aren't plastic, but are going to wreck the toilets just as bad. You also don't want to have wooden or leafy objects that may break and litter the playa. Metals don't insulate either, so I'm not about to bring a metal cooler. Wood is heavy as well, forget wooden storage crates; it leaves a mess too. They're not waterproof either.

I sure as hell am not bringing glass or metal plates and bowls to the playa. Even if the glass were unbreakable, glass is heavy and unbendable. Who wants vintage canvas for a cot? That stuff is heavy and uncomfortable. Even the most foldable cot is bigger than my plastic air mattress. The blanket I'd use would probably not be all natural either. I sure as hell won't be using a heavy, non-plastic-based tent. My Nalgene bottle I got for $2 is just as usable as the $3 metal water bottle I got at some other thrift store.

But all that stuff above is reusable stuff, so I think I'd be good to go.

Yeah, I do wonder how the buy bulk without using plastic bags, myself. However, I'm only trying to improve their post, not perfect it.
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Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri


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