Burning Man wouldn’t be Burning Man without a few flames. But setting fire to artwork at the festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert is not without its issues.
In a Medium post from July 2019, festival organizers announced plans “to become carbon negative, sustainably manage waste, and be ecologically regenerative by 2030.” Although Burning Man already employs a “leave no trace” philosophy, wherein organizers and attendees remove all debris from the desert after the festival, there’s plenty more that the festival can do to be more sustainable. The festival has calculated that its carbon emissions are a staggering 100,000 tons for the seven-day event.
To reduce atmospheric pollution and advance toward the goal of being carbon negative by 2030, Burning Man is asking artists to find alternatives to burning the artwork. Although a core value of the festival, “impermanence” is the cause of much waste and CO2 emissions. Organizers are asking that Burners be “thoughtful and intentional about how/when/where and why we burn art” until a solution is found. Guidelines for “burning stuff” is even available on the official website.