As the world’s largest leave-no-trace event, Burning Man participants place a huge emphasis on cleaning up after themselves, and making sure every spec of trash, or MOOP, (Matter Out Of Place) is painstakingly removed. Following the event the volunteers of the Playa Restoration Team, follow behind 70,000 people, walking the entire 11-square mile area, removing every last sequin, feather, bottle cap and cigarette butt.
To keep camps motivated to do their best to remediate their assigned area, the Playa Restoration Team also scores each campsite. Green is good, yellow indicates there were some issues, and red means your attendance next year is in jeopardy. That’s correct. Failing to clean your camp site, spotless, is grounds for being banned the following year.
The Pathogen Trackers has their own remediation plan in place, and once again achieved the coveted “green” status. What’s our secret? Well, there’s two. First, after everyone has cleaned their area, walked the camp and moved out, we sweep the entire acre and a half.
Following the sweeping, before the last truck is removed we photograph and video the camp site from each angle, just in case something falls off someone else’s vehicle and lands within our perimeter. Cleaning 11-square miles, simply requires everyone to do their part.
Of course, the really challenge is keeping your spirits up when a dust storm whips up just as you finish grooming your parcel. Such is alive on the playa.