Every year 70,000 burners make the trip to the Nevada desert to Black Rock City for Burning Man for the week before Labor Day.  I have gone for the past 4 years. One of the exciting things about Burning Man is the commitment to “leave no trace”–leave the playa as clean and pristine as possible.  Camps, small organized groups within the festival, and burners are always looking for ways to leave no trace by reducing their carbon footprint.

Camps have done this by erecting solar arrays like AEZ and Snow Cone Camp, where they gift their excess PV energy to others instead of selling it to a grid. Energizing the Playa through the abundant power of the sun.

One big change I noticed this year was the increased adoption of electrified personal transit.  Whether it is hub motors on retrofitted bikes or other personal transportation devices like one-wheels (the things with one wheel you straddle).  These have their issues like the obstacles faced with increased personal transit in San Francisco with scooters or Sacramento with Jump bikes. The new personal transit devices this year were a lot faster and are having burners rethink the wisdom of allowing them to roam without speed limits.  Cars and other powered vehicles are limited to 5 mph, but the personal transit devices are not limited. Burners, who go by the “Safety Third” mantra, were accelerating past 20 mph around the playa.

It was a great year. Be sure to check out last year’s post to learn more. 


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

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