Transformation. It's the single greatest takeaway from Burning Man—the festival of 50,000 plus attendees in Nevada's Black Rock Desert later this month. Marking a milestone with its first-ever sell out, this year's theme is aptly, "Rites of Passage." The event itself is something far beyond the confines of words (as rites of passage often are)—so these few will have to do: No money (besides the tickets), no brands and no inhibitions prevail in the 7th largest city in Nevada that lives for but a fleeting week in the middle of an ancient dried up lakebed. Everyone is a work of art becoming and unbecoming (never hostile) expressions of what it means to be alive and floating through self-perceptions amidst dust storms, all night glow-in-the-dark dance parties, massive art installations and the symbolic fire ceremonies that cleanse and renew festival goers as the week of uninhibited self-exploration comes to a close. It's a bring-your-own, self-sustaining event, with an emphasis on leaving no trace... but is it truly no-impact?
For the uninitiated, a trek to BRC (Black Rock City) can be daunting, leading to over-packing and excess. The number one way to reduce your impact is by reducing your load. Less stuff equals less gas burned up in your (hopefully car-pooled) vehicle, so try these tips:
Light clothes in the day and something warm at night. But keep it to a minimum. Best bet: Like a camping trip, you typically end up wearing the same comfy gear for several days despite how much you pack, and there's nothing wrong with that. Pack less. No... even less than that.
Meat and dairy will need constant cooling, and involve much prep, plus they're the most environmentally un-friendly food choices. Best bet: Go veg. Fruits and vegetables can keep in a shady spot. Avocadoes are healthy, energizing and filling as a meal or snack. Citrus fruit will keep you hydrated in the unrelenting playa sun. Seaweed is rich in natural salts, important in the heat. There's a lot to be said for trail mix and almond butter banana sandwiches, too. Leave as much packaging at home as you can to decrease on waste. Use cloth napkins and wipe down your plates and utensils with vinegar instead of using disposables. Plus, with all the activities, you'll find nourishment comes in many delicious ways besides food.
It's the most important part of your trip as the alkalizing minerals in the playa dust along with the sun dehydrate you quickly. Cases of plastic water bottles are less than ideal for a number of reasons. Best bet: Invest in 2.5 or 5 gallon glass jugs and fill with natural spring water. Then, transfer into a BPA-free lightweight portable bottle such as Vapur, which has some playa-worthy designs. Or, dress up your own bottle.
Showers are scant on the playa, and they use up a lot of water if you do find one. Still, the coating of dust can create a craving for clean. Best bet: Give yourself a rub-down with a mix of vinegar and water, use some essential oils to disinfect, pull up your hair, and embrace it... like a rite of passage.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
image: Do Not Lick