The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 19, 2013

It’s the Burning Man Plastic Footprint Project!

IMG_8917-smLast year was my first trip to Black Rock City and the annual Burning Man festival of art, fire, and radical creativity, as well as dust storms, cracked feet, and dry, bloody boogers.  I can’t wait to go back. This year, I’ll be part of the Earth Guardians’ Plastic Footprint project — combining art and education about plastic-free living.  Today, I’ll tell you about the art and associated workshops we have planned. Tomorrow, I’ll share all the new plastic-free solutions I’ve discovered for Burning Man this year. I’ve been researching my head off.  Really, my brain hurts right now.

Plastic Footprint Project — At Burning Man and Incline Village

SCROLL DOWN the page for the list of our Plastic-Free Workshops and events next week.  But first, the art…

Annie Clark, an artist and art teacher in Nevada’s Washoe County School District, contacted me this past spring after being inspired by my book and asked if I had ever been to Burning Man and if I would consider coming this year and being a part of a giant plastic-related art/education project. My response:  Oh my god!  Have I been to Burning Man? YES! Would I go again?  In a freaking heartbeat!

So Annie tells me that she wants to get her local community involved in creating a giant sculpture made from plastic trash.  She was thinking of something pretty like a tree.  Last year, the Earth Guardians had a pretty tree sculpture  in front of their camp.



But I thought the plastic trash sculpture should be something scary to send the message that plastic trash is not pretty.  A few days later, she contacted me with the most brilliant idea ever:  A giant plastic foot stepping on the planet with the question, “What is your plastic footprint?”


Perfect.  So she and the kids have been working on this thing all summer, and with Burning Man only a week away, they are still working on it.  We don’t know if it will be done by the time it travels to the playa, but if not, maybe other Burners can help add to it.  I can’t wait to see it.  And you can see it too, even if you are not coming to Burning Man.  The sculpture will be on display at the Incline Village High School, and I’ll be coming to Incline Village the last weekend of September to give some talks.  So, if you’re in the area, please check the Plastic Footprint Project Facebook page for details.

Here are a few pix of the process.  You can see full size images and follow their progress on the Plastic Footprint Facebook Page.






















Plastic-Free Workshops at Burning Man

I’ll be camping with the Earth Guardians and am available to show my tent and plastic-free setup at specified times during the festival.  I don’t yet know when those times will be, but I do know when our events will take place.  Here are the plastic-related ones.  Click here for the full Earth Guardians schedule.

Wednesday – August 28, 2013, 1:00 PM — 2:00 PM: Plastic-Free Burning Man Workshop – What is your plastic footprint?  Take a walk through your house (or Burning Man camp).  From plastic-packaged food in the kitchen to toothbrushes and shampoo in the bathroom, our world is full of plastic.  And at Burning Man, we sleep in plastic sleeping bags in plastic tents and wear plastic goggles.  And how much of our food and water is packaged in plastic? Although some plastics make our lives better, much of it is a problem — polluting our oceans and beaches and harming our health with toxic chemicals. But what can one person do to be part of the solution? Join us for inspiring stories and practical tips to reduce plastic in your home and on the Playa.  Author Beth Terry will share her journey from self-confessed plastic addict to empowered plastic-free activist and explain why we can’t just recycle our way out of this mess.  You may even get to peek at her (nearly) plastic-free campsite.

Thursday – August 29, 2013, 3:00 PM — 4:00 PM — More than just one word on Plastics –  Plastics: we love them and hate them.  Rebecca Braslau, organic chemistry professor will help us examine the history of plastics, what they are made of, health, environmental and societal issues, and future green possibilities.

Saturday – August 31 , 2013, 2:00 PM — 3:00 PM: Plastic-Free Burning Man Workshop – If you missed the workshop on Wednesday, or if you have friends who missed it that you want to bring back, you have one more chance!

Every Night:  The Earth Guardians will be showing environmental movies on the playa.  I’m hoping that some of them will be related to plastic.  Check the schedule when you arrive for details.


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10 years ago

I hear bidets are great too! I also heard a cheaper option is to install a sprayer next to your toilet. Apparently it is easy to install and only costs about $10. I also heard about a product called Aim To Wash – it is a bidet that attaches behind the toilet seat. It is using water, but much less than to produce tp. I am considering one of these options!

10 years ago

Hey, Beth! I want to thank you for everything you are doing! This is a little off-topic, but have you heard about BPA being in recycled toilet paper? I couldn’t believe it when I read about it, but there aren’t a lot of great alternatives out there. I have heard about people making their own family cloth, but I can’t really get past the ick factor or possible scrutiny from others. I have heard bamboo toilet paper is BPA free, but it is very expensive.

I was wondering if you can think of any good solutions? I don’t want to keep using recycled toilet paper if it has BPA…Thanks! ~Sarah

Beth Terry
10 years ago
Reply to  Sarah

Yes, it’s absolutely true. I have mentioned it on this blog and in my book.
Personally, I still use recycled toilet paper because I don’t want to cut down trees to wipe my butt, and as you mention, the bamboo stuff is quite expensive. Some people use water or install a bidet. Or family cloth. I’m not there yet either.
In a conversation with someone from Clean Water Action a while back, we came to the conclusion that this issue is really about the fact that there is just too much BPA being produced and we need to push our legislators to ban the stuff, rather than having to make stupid choices between recycled toilet paper with BPA or virgin toilet paper without.

Tracey Tief
10 years ago

Brilliant! See you soon! Plans on Sunday firmed up? We need to pick up SS water dispensors…

Beth Terry
10 years ago

cc Deborah Gatiss Tracey Tief Sarah Kathryn Schumm Richard D Lang Judith Selby Lang

Danielle Richardet
10 years ago

Bonnie Monteleone check out that plastic art!!!

Danielle Richardet
10 years ago

I’m not coming Burning Man… but Wow oh WOW what a statement that plastic foot will make!!! Awesome Beth!

Jared Brick
10 years ago

Wish the TraX actions team could be there… we got investors to meet to get this built! Next year we will pass our stickers for reusable products!

10 years ago

This is wonderful, Beth! As an B-Man old timer from back in the day, I am so excited for you and this project. I spent more than one post-Burning Man weekend trying to pick up glitter and feathers to appease BLM standards. It’s an ideal community for this conversation.

Beth Terry
10 years ago

cc Karima Cherif Dianna Cohen Daniella Dimitrova Russo Danielle Richardet Tess Felix Greene Dan Rademacher

LJ Livingston
10 years ago

Jamie E. Jacobs, David Green Truck – you are the only people I know going to burning man. This gal appears legit on the plastic free living – maybe you’ll check it out?