While poop bags for Burners might sound like a far-fetched Shark Tank pitch, it's instead a proposed solution to prevent non-potty-trained Burners from leaving their waste scattered on the playa during this year's Burning Man celebration.
At Burning Man, making it to a bathroom in a timely manner might be difficult for a number of reasons: Your zipper on your giraffe costume might be busted or a 100-foot-tall, 100-foot-wide dust devil might be in your way. The most common reason, though, that Burners are not making it to the white throne appears to be that Burners find themselves marooned at a lit rave in the "deep playa."
The deep playa is an area of the event relatively far from Black Rock City's center and often far from banks of portable turquoise toilets. Often, some of the loudest parties migrate to the deep playa so as not to make all 80,000 people at Burning Man listen to pulsing electronic dance music until sunrise.
In a recent report, the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency which oversees Burning Man, expressed concern about the number of folks pooping and peeing in the deep playa. Although the Black Rock Desert is a barren dust flat in Northern Nevada, about two hours north of Reno, making a doo doo in the middle of the flat is still a big "don't don't."
The BLM this year plans to park "mobile rave zones" nearer to Porta Potty banks and place signs in the zones to remind partiers to use the toilets, according to the BLM's report. Burning Man volunteers and staff already "search for and quickly clean up human waste deposited during deep playa music events," the report said, but the BLM this year suggested that volunteers and staff also "hand out or ask Burners to bring pee bottle and poop bags for camp and deep playa events."
Teaching toilet etiquette is nothing new to the Burning Man organization, which provided 1,700 Porta Potties at the event last year.
Even some of the Burners that do use the toilets still manage to misuse them. The staff who clean the Sharpie marker-covered plastic loos have to clean out anything that's not single-ply toilet paper or human waste. In years past, the retrieval efforts have surfaced a mattress, a full roast chicken and thousands of cigarette butts and baby wipes.
Though a dirty job no doubt, it's vital for the Burning Man organization to leave the desert spotless since it is a federally protected national conservation area.
The Burning Man organization also is guided by 10 principles, including "leave no trace." Leave no trace is a common outdoor mantra as well, encouraging people to pack out whatever waste that they bring into or produce in nature. Burners call litter of all types MOOP, an acronym for "matter out of place."
Here's to hoping that Burners will just use the toilets this year so that a bunch of Burners are not dancing to Skrillex with poop bags in hand.
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