AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Trash Talk

(words: Cara Morris / pics: by respective shooters)

In the first of a series of posts designed to get you as tooled up as possible ahead of hitting the dust, here are Princess Caralot’s top tips on how you can reduce MOOP both before you leave, and when you arrive:
Trash reduction
Ever driven for 6+ hours in a hot car with a bin bag full of semi-rotten food? I have, and it’s truly not pleasant. It’s all good for the first 30 minutes or so, but then, slowly, the stench begins to permeate every inch of air in the car. Even opening the windows doesn’t really help, given the dust and all. It’s not all bad news though – with a little Tankwa-style thinking, you can reduce the stench of your trash, by minimising it before you even leave the default world.

Look how stoked she is at how little she’s carrying – don’t you want to just be her?

Start at the shops
While you may be buying your water and other heavy things closer to the Tankwa, it’s a good idea to buy most of your groceries closer to home, a day or two before you leave. First, you can do a lot of your food prep beforehand – which cuts down on mise en place in the dust. It takes a special and dedicated soul to prep an entire stir fry on a wobbly table in a dust storm… If you prep at home, you can avoid this entirely. Plus, if you’re going to cut something off and throw it away, it makes more sense to chuck it in your bin at home than in your camp. When you’re designing your dinner menu for the dust, think long term.
Imagine, if you will, what that milk or cheese or meat is going to smell like on the way home… and then think about portion sizing. Extra food = trash. Remember, it’s HOT out there; people eat less. Plan your food portion sizes, and then cut them by a third. Trust me on this one. Think cans, dried food (the “just add water” variety). In the desert, perishables perish… and then they smell RANK on the way home. If you have extra cans and dried goods, you can take them home and just dust them off for next year (or drop them off for our DPW desert rats)! When it comes to packaging, if you’re thinking about the space your MOOP takes up; choose foil (aluminium) over plastic, and plastic over glass. Foil can be recycled in camp, plastic can be crushed flat. Glass takes up all the space.
This is where your spade comes in handy for scooping up food MOOP (this shot of 2008 by Monique Schitzenbaum)

Continue at home
First things first: get rid of all extra packaging. Good quality zippable freezer bags are your friends. Freeze all your meat solid in these freezer bags – that way, they can provide coldness in your cooler too! Bag everything you can bag, and freeze everything you can freeze, including fruit juices and plastic bottles of water. It’s a great opportunity to clear your freezer of that random unidentifiable frozen thing that’s been chilling at the back for the past four years. While you’re packing, don’t forget to bring a spade (useful to clean up food accidents – DO NOT BURY THE FOOD), some string (for tying together the crushed plastic bottles) and HIGH QUALITY bin bags. Bin bags are not where you want to skimp: if one of them splits, you’ve got an even bigger MOOP problem on your hands than before. Splitting bags have been known to bring even the most hardy trash barons to despair.
Reducing your rubbish up front, sorting out the recyclables, keeping bags under control: these are all pretty simple tasks if you think about it. It’ll make your life in Tankwa better, and the drive back a spring-fresh breeze.
Stay tuned for more MOOP tips as we speed to the Tankwa!

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