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See Also [2003 - Intergalactic House of Pancakes]

Pancake Playhouse Cleanup Plan Download as Word doc (40k)

Point Person:
Martha Bowen
I. Preparation

II. On the Playa
III. Last Day
IV. The Morning After
Pancake Playhouse Map

I. Preparation

We have designated a cleanup point person to spearhead the planning around camp cleanup on a number of fronts, including pre-playa, throughout the week of the event, with regards to our public kitchen, and of course post-Burning Man in order to “Leave No Trace.” While cleanup is ultimately the responsibility of each and every person in our camp, the point person is responsible for making sure everyone is involved on some level and also for handling of the planning and big picture issues.

As our camp has grown, we’ve begun to “recycle” old items for reuse year after year. We also have become more aware of the quantity of “stuff” we bring to the playa each year, and have begun efforts to reduce our waste by being more efficient in our packing. As a rule, we try to “do more with less” by bringing items that can perform double duty and by reusing, recycling, or burning items at the end of the week. In addition, we do not to bring any unnecessary packaging to the playa, making a careful effort to “unpack” our camp supplies before we arrive at Burning Man.

Aside from our camp supplies, we've found that educating new members of our camp about the event has a huge impact on how well the camp functions - we really make an effort to ensure that everyone understands that feather boas are not cool, and that at Pancake there's a "clean as you go" understanding among the group. Further, we have developed a camp agreement that must be signed by all members, which outlines our camp expectations in terms of cleanup, and includes everyone’s role in the breakdown of Pancake Playhouse, but also stresses the importance of the “2 hour” rule. It goes without saying that we would never try to dispose of any camp materials in the potties. Likewise, we try very hard to promote basic playa intelligence among our visitors, as well as among new camp members.

II. On the Playa

Because our camp operates a high-volume public kitchen and because we are home to a large group of burners, we are aware that cleanup throughout the week of the event is crucial for both sanitation purposes as well as to ensure that Pancake Playhouse never leaves a trace. The following are the elements of our playa cleanup plan:

  • BYO
    As a food-serving camp, we're very aware that disposable dishes can cause a lot of problems in terms of waste and litter. That's why we don't offer this amenity. Instead, we ask burners to bring their own or use their hands.

  • Kitchen sanitation
    Our kitchen will be clearly divided into food preparation, cooking and cleaning areas. The dishwashing area will be nearby the trash receptacles and grey water trough. The area designated for food preparation will be kept separate from the cleaning areas. We will use bleach to sanitize our dishes and hand out pancakes using clean tongs. All of our cooks as well as anyone who may wander into the kitchen are required to wear a hat, bandana, or other hair covering. Cooks also wear aprons and wash their hands regularly with soap and water, finishing with a hand sanitizer. Clean dishes will be kept in clean, dry, airtight containers to avoid contamination. Pancake mix and syrup will be kept on shelves above ground level to avoid contamination. A health permit will be kept on display in the kitchen, readily able to be viewed by Burning Man officials, the Nevada State Health Department, and of course, our “customers.”

  • Continuous cleaning
    As well as the "clean as you go" atmosphere that we try to promote at Pancake, we will have at least one daily cleanup of the camp. This will happen after we're done serving pancakes for the day, usually around 2 p.m. We will also clean camp before serving pancakes, first thing in the morning. Also, we will offer proper disposal for cigarette butts in clearly marked areas around our camp.

  • Grey water disposal
    We have experimented with using grey water troughs in the past, but have found this method largely inefficient, as we are often left with an excess of un-evaporated grey water at week’s end. This year, we are developing an advanced system that will effectively dispose of our grey water while providing a public service to the DPW. In our kitchen, we will have a keg tub set up under our sink to catch all unused water and for disposing of grey water. The tub will be outfitted with a screen in order to clear the water of food particles and other MOOP. The tub will also have a spigot installed at the bottom, which will allow us to slowly drain it of grey water on the city streets, aiding the DPW in keeping a hard pack of playa for the heavy traffic of the event.

  • Trash sorting and disposal
    Trash will be sorted into four large garbage cans outfitted with lids to ensure that high winds won’t cause litter flyaway in our camp. The clearly marked receptacles will allow us to sort our trash into recyclables, burnables, composting, and landfill trash. The labeled compartments help us keep our trash organized, and ensure our camp visitors won’t resort to littering. Each day during the post-pancake clean up, we'll remove any full bags - taking burnables to burn platforms, drying organic waste in mesh bags and placing recyclable material and trash in our storage dome. Recyclables are then further sorted so that aluminum can be recycled on the playa. Our camp members then transport all leftover recyclables and trash back to the Bay Area.

III. Last Day

A smooth camp breakdown is very important to us. We have designated a member of Pancake Playhouse as solely responsible for the camp breakdown plan. This person works closely with the trash coordinator to streamline cleanup and transport of trash and recyclables off of the playa.

  • Stage one
    During camp breakdown we'll supply each camp member with work gloves and any tools needed for clean up. These include scrapers to get at things under the first layer of playa, large mallets to pull out rebar and bigger supports, and brooms to go through high traffic "problem" areas. We will also use specially designed tools outfitted with magnets in order to lift any lost screws or nails from the playa. We will break down our kitchen first and have a thorough clean up of bigger MOOP throughout the camp. All burnables will be taken to burn platforms for disposal.

  • Stage two
    Once the kitchen and larger items have been cleared away, we will embark on the final breakdown. This includes pulling down our main tent. After the main tent has been broken down, we will begin our detailed scavenging of the camp area for MOOP of all kinds. Rather than using a grid pattern, or having a line of campers sweeping the area, we instead ask each camp member to pick up MOOP for at least an hour and a half each. The reason for this is pretty simple - some people are just a lot better at collecting MOOP than others, and this allows the same ground (the whole campsite) to be gone over by different people, usually at different times. At the end of the event, with MOOP blowing around as people break down, it seems to work a lot better to have sweeping happen in a staggered manner. We are very committed to “Leave No Trace,” and actively encourage everyone in our camp to engage in citywide cleanup, following the “2 hour” rule.

IV. The Morning After

Trash will be carried out by individual camp members. We generally try to require that each vehicle coming to our camp needs to leave room for at least two full trash bags. Further, we make sure that the truck that we rent has enough space to take the remainder. If new folks don't know where they can recycle or get rid of trash, we let them know. Some people do this at Burning Man recommended dumps on the way out, others take it all the way back to their home cities.

Both the trash coordinator and the breakdown coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that there is not a speck of Pancake left when we leave.

Pancake Playhouse Map Download as Excel spreadsheet (24k)


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