Burn the Man, Ban the Bottle

Published On August 28, 2012 | By Hannah Ellsbury | Articles

Burning Man is an annual tribal celebration of fire, art, and eloquence. Originating in the mid 1990’s, Black Rock Desert, Nevada has become the home of this thrilling and highly renowned festival. You will know when Burning Man is near, as the food on the grocery store shelves vanish and jugs beyond jugs of water are dragged out the doors and stuffed into the tie-die colored Volkswagen vans parked out front.

One of the most important items every enthusiast needs to survive this week full of celebration is water. On the playa, participants must bring their own water seeing as it is an extremely hot and dry area and water is not provided. In addition, the event does not offer a connection to power or electricity, therefore event-goers resort to fire, candles and battery powered lights. If 50,000 people can go a full week without power, why can they go without plastic water bottles or jugs?

Many who go to this event are sometimes known as “tree-huggers,” or according to the dictionary, environmentalists who are especially concerned with preservation. If this is so, plastic bottles should be a number one concern and should be avoided out on the playa. There are many alternatives to plastic bottles. Seeing as Burning Man attendees will need water supply for 7 full days, they will need something to hold a large amount of fresh water.

I have found many efficient alternatives to plastic bottles or jugs ranging from large 5-gallon stainless steel iced tea dispensers to huge glass beverage dispensers with a convenient pouring spout, all at reasonable prices. Many people may say, “Well hey, I can buy 5 gigantic plastic jugs of water for only $10 each, but you want me to buy this $75 refillable water dispenser?” Yes, we do.

Most don’t recognize that in the long run, sometimes even the short run, you will be getting your money’s worth by purchasing the refillable container. Especially for events such as Burning Man where water is a vital requirement, you will get your money’s worth within that first week, not to mention helping reduce the negative effects plastic imposes on the environment. And we agree that no one wants to see the beautiful playa covered in plastic water bottles and jugs, right.

So be creative and find a unique and creative way you can avoid using plastic bottles not just at Burning Man, but in every way of life.

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5 Responses to Burn the Man, Ban the Bottle

  1. Love the site and what you are all about, but the glass beverage dispenser went to a plastic one online. Do you have another link I can check out?

    Also, in this case it wouldn’t it be far easier for the organizers to bring in water trucks for refillable water bottles then individuals bringing in water dispensers.


    • Hannah Ellsbury says:

      Hello Michael,

      Thanks for your comment. I am sorry about the incorrect link. Here is, hopefully, a correct link to a gorgeous glass dispenser that can be found at your local World Market store: Apothecary Glass Water Tank.

      The water truck idea is fantastic and yes I would recommend bringing refillable bottles and just filling it with the water truck. I am not sure what the expense would be to the organization, but I find it a great idea! You should recommend this to the organizers for Burning Man 2013.

  2. Everseeker says:

    Why, exactly, is a plastic REUSABLE container a bad Idea?
    I have a plan to carry 30+ gallons of water, in a plastic container, that will conform to the space in the back of the van.
    I do not see any glass container conforming to an irregular space in a timespan not measured in eons…
    And, If I use the same one, again and again, and again… I am NOT adding to the pile-o-plastic in the Pacific….

    • Hannah Ellsbury says:


      Thank you for your comment. If it seemed as if I implied that reusable bottles are not a good idea, I did not mean to do so. I was simply giving other alternatives to single-use plastic bottled water such as the stainless steel and glass containers. The point is to have a REUSABLE container rather than a one-time use container that ends up in our landfills, street gutter, and left on the playa.

  3. Jim Evars says:

    I find it disturbing that this Burning Man festival centers around an apparently firey event which clearly increases the atmospheric temperature. This planet is already suffereing from numerous assaults by ignorant people, and yet here is a supposedly “environmental” organization which is doing exactly what true environmentalists are trying to stop. Honestly, cant this Burning Man group find another way to celebrate instead of adding to the polution and heat of our our already overburdened environment??

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