The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 28, 2013

Plastic-Free Burning Man — The List, Part 2

Yesterday I detailed the outside of my Burning Man setup. Today I’ll tell you about the inside.



I’m using the vintage wood, canvas, and steel camping cot I blogged about after my night at the aquarium last year..

I didn’t figure out a plastic-free sleeping bag, and the truth is, the purple polyester (or maybe it’s nylon… not sure at this point) bag I bought back in the early 90’s still works great. Why replace it?

Floor Covering


Since the bottom of my tent is vinyl (ick), I wanted to cover it with natural fiber rugs. Second-hand would have been best, but this was kind of last minute, and I needed enough to cover a10x10 space, so instead of rugs, I opted for a felted rug pad made from recycled carpets and other recycled fabrics. It’s very, very soft, but probably a mix of synthetic and natural fibers. It was very affordable too. Purchased from Dick’s Carpet in Berkeley. It’s really trippy looking up close.



Mostly, I got food in bulk in my own containers from Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods. I concentrated on things that wouldn’t need refrigeration: black bean soup mix, hummus mix, corn chowder mix, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, baby oatmeal, trail mix, peanut butter, and crunchy baby pretzels.  And I got lots of pickled things in glass jars, like pickled cucumbers, carrots, green beans, olives, etc.  Vinegar is essential on the playa for countering the extremely alkaline dust.

I have become very popular for bringing a particular pickled item I hadn’t heard of before last year: okra. (Yes, I’d heard of and eaten okra of course, but not okra pickles.)


Even people who think they won’t like these because they either don’t like okra or don’t like pickles LOVE these things. I brought many jars of both the mild and the spicy kind and have been making friends right and left. It must be because of the pickles.

I’m also making my coffee in a mason jar that I wrote about a few days ago.  And I have several different beverages in glass bottles in my cooler (all non-alcoholic.)

A note about glass on the playa: It is discouraged by the organizers because of the possibility of breakage which can not only hurt people but leave a mess on the playa, which is forbidden. So I am only consuming foods and beverages in glass in places where there are soft carpets. For traversing the playa, I bring stainless steel.

And oh yes! I’m finding that bread doesn’t dry out on the playa when stored in paper in an airtight stainless steel container from Life Without Plastic.


Um… that’s all I can think of right now regarding food.

Care Personal

Sunscreen in glass jars.

Lotion and lip balm in compostable cardboard.

Toothy tabs and bamboo toothbrush.

Homemade wet wipes


Wet wipes are great on the playa for hand and general body washing, but they are pretty wasteful and come in plastic packaging.  Using pinking shears, I cut some ripped pairs of flannel pajamas and cotton pants into squares and soaked them in an airtight stainless container in a solution of white vinegar, water, and essential oils of orange, lavender, and rosemary because those were what I had available.  I got the idea from this post about making homemade household cleaning wipes and modified it so I wouldn’t have to buy anything new.

Note: Both Leslie of Crunchy Betty and my friend Tracey of Anarres Natural Health caution that you should refrigerate any homemade products that  contain water without a preservative of some kind because as Leslie says, water is “the great giver of life,” and as such, it can breed the kind of life you don’t want in your concoctions. Vinegar is a preservative, but not indefinitely. So I’m keeping them in my cooler — which is very refreshing, actually — and will dispose of any leftover solution when I get home.

Goggles and Bandana

These are essential on the playa for surviving dust storms.

The bandana is one that a Burner made and gave me last year, and I have a couple more regular ones.

The goggles…


Totally steam punk, right? They are German motorcycle goggles made from real rubber, glass, and metal. I got them from Historical Emporium. And they were the only real glass goggles I could find that would also fit over my eyeglasses.  I don’t think the vintage ones I found on eBay would have worked with my glasses.

However, these goggles are not as completely plastic-free as I thought when I ordered them. There is a thin plastic sheet covering the inside of the lens. I assume this is a safety measure to keep you from being blinded if the glass breaks.

That’s it from me for today. See you tomorrow if I feel like blogging again. I can’t believe I’ve blogged more in the last week… using only my mobile phone! … than I have in the last few months.

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Kanna Jones
10 years ago

Looks like my kitchen!

Nova Lee
10 years ago

Apples can keep for 4-5 months in a cool place so for 1 week they should be no problem… And their juicy:)

Minwaabekwe Essaunce
10 years ago

You are so inspirational!

10 years ago

Great to see you blogging again! Really missed your blogposts. You sound like you are having fun blogging like this, nice to read your happiness between the lines! Enjoy Burning Man!
Marleen from Amsterdam – Netherlands

10 years ago

That’s cool about no selling. Rainbow is the same way. But I guess by not commercial I meant that there are no tickets for Rainbow. It’s all free. Free access, free food. There is trading allowed, though (but not for food).

Beth Terry
10 years ago

Hi Dad. Please don’t do anything to mar your youthful appearance. I’m expecting people attending your funeral to give me condolences on the loss of my son.

Beth Terry
10 years ago

Hi V3gan. Just a point of clarification… Burning Man is huge, but it’s not commercial. There’s no buying/selling allowed. Also no corporate sponsorships or advertising. In fact, you’re not even supposed to hand out your business card. I have given away several copies of my book, but I’m not allowed to sell it. Not even for barter. People give without expectation of anything in return.
As for hiking… I’m not there yet. Yes, many of these things are heavy and would not be appropriate for hiking. I’ll blog about anything I find out at some point, but if you discover any solutions in the meantime, please share them here or in the forum.
And I’m sure I would love the Rainbow Gathering. I’ve been hearing about it since the early 90’s.

Beth Terry
10 years ago

Burning Man is a festival of radical self-expression and radical inclusion in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. You can read about it here:

10 years ago

EcoCatLady I’ve been told what it is, but my ossifying brain lacks retention nowadays. This sort of torture I put out of my life after my 1st scout campout at age 12. Sadly, Beth, at her advanced age, is enduring (to the end, no doubt). Surviving dust storms, sunburn, desiccation, looking ugly: NOT FOR ME!
Oh — hi Beth!

10 years ago

Am I the only person who has no earthly idea what “Burning Man” is? I’m gather this is some sort of festival? Can somebody help out the ignorant?

10 years ago

Thanks for sharing! I’ve never been to Burning Man, but I do a lot of camping. Unfortunately, most of it isn’t car camping so weight is more of an issue which makes plastic more appealing. Still, some good ideas for when weight isn’t an issue. I’d be curious, though, how you’d camp if you had to hike in. Do you have any suggestions or posts on that? I go to Rainbow gatherings and the walk in can be a few miles depending on where you camp. I think you’d like Rainbow gatherings, though. Have you heard of them? Less commercial than Burning Man. Generally more trees, lol. This year’s national was in Montana and it was beautiful! And us Rainbow family do try to practice Leave No Trace as much as possible, even with thousands of people gathering in the woods. I’ve learned quite a lot since I started going.

10 years ago

I love hearing from you again. I think you short-form posts are just as fantastic as your long ones (and actually easier for me to finish with the toddler hanging on my legs).