Cleanup and Restoration

The Rainbow Family has long prided itself on the cleanup done after a gathering. This page is my attempt to cover the basic ways a site can be made to disappear. The number one way to make it easy to clean up a site is to not make a mess! As I tell people, cleanup starts the day we arrive, and we are all cleanup crew, because we should all disappear our own campsites, and haul our our own trash.

What You Can Do To Help

A lot of the cleanup at Rainbow Gatherings is done by the individual people as they leave. The best cleanup is where there is no need for a cleanup crew. On the individual level, there are many things one can do starting with preparing the site for cleanup when you arrive. When clearing a site for a tent, collect the pine cones, sticks, etc... and use them later to restore the site. I try to make sure there are no large plants ir or rocks to remove, cause this leaves wholes.

Start with disappearing a fire, if there is one. I personally only cook on a backpacking stove by my tent, and I usually eat at one of kitchens anyway. First make sure the fire is good and out. Spread the rocks throughout the local area, with the sotty sides down. Fill in the hole with dirt and small rocks. Cover the dirt with pine needles, sticks, moss, whatever is appropriate for that spot. You can make make this easier by preserving the brush and topsoil when you make your fire pit. Don't forget to preserve the soil for the several weeks you may be at the gathering, you should pile it and/or cover it with a tarp, otherwise it'll get compacted or wash away before you can use it to restore the site.

Brush up flattened grass where the tent or tarp was. Brush up the dirt, and spread needles, sticks, etc... to make the site look as undisturbed as possible. Do the same to any trails that you've made while in camp. Soil compactation is the number one impact of any persons presence.

Recycling Camp

The recycling camp is where all the trash goes that is collected from the site. What looks like a pile of unorganized trash, are sorted piles. The piles are sorted into burnables, glass, metal, plastic, etc. As little as possible is taken to a landfill.

In some years, like at the North Carolina Rainbow Gathering, the Forest Service took videos of the recycling piles, and have since used this video in many court cases since, claiming it is the trash left onsite. They forget to mention that the reason the recycling piles were still there, was because they had arrestd the cleanup crew for exceeding the 14 day camping rule. Obviously a manufactured incident. We know that all good Rainbows never leave trash behind.

Look good at this picture too, cause this is where everything winds up that anyone doesn't carry out. If you leave any trash behind, here is where it winds up. Then after sorting through this mess to produce nicely organized piles, it has to be driven to the recycling center, or the landfill, both of which cost money, which is usually in short supply.

Trash And Recycling Rap

Take it with you! Rather than burden the "cleanup crew", all trash (other than compost) should be taken offsite and recyled or disposed of properly. You can reduce your trash by recycling, and being more concious of the products you buy and bring to a gathering. A common source of trash is food packaging. Buy in bulk. Reuse containers rather than disposing of them.

These two brothers are helping carry out more than than what they brought in. Note how the plastic, etc.. is already sorted.

Several miles of PVC water pipe is used to help supply clean water to the gathering. The water comes from springs that are tapped, and the water is distributed by gravity feed.

This is a good example of a camp's own recycling station. Any sorting and recycling done by each camp and kitchen makes less work for the folks that stay for cleanup. Cleaning up ones own camp to where there is no more cleanup and restoration is the Rainbow ideal.

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