Bill Burning Guide

Note: please read this as a guide and not a list of instructions! You can have a very successful event without many of the details in this guide, or by doing things differently. Though please do follow the safety tips.


Don’t Pay has called a Day of Action on October 1st. Mobilisations on this date will keep the pressure up on the government over energy bills, re-centre Don’t Pay in the national conversation, and build momentum for the strike.

Bill Burning will be the media-grabbing centrepiece of the day - demonstrating the anger and resolve of people to resist unaffordable energy bills. It can be the centrepiece to a bigger demonstration, or standalone.

[see this video from Glasgow]

Choosing a Location

Pick a location symbolic of the energy crisis we are in. Perhaps outside a government building, like a city hall, or an energy provider/supplier building.

Important: make sure that wherever you do it, the location is safe for this activity, look at the safety tips below.

Prep List


  • Energy bills, either real or fake - see below for an example [note: people should not burn a real bill if it’s the only copy, as it’s important to keep a record]
  • Aluminium bin or steel drum with lid. Consider drilling or cutting holes around the bottom of the bin to make an air flow
  • Matches will be enough to start a fire of dry paper
  • Fire extinguisher


  • Heat resistant gloves
  • A few bricks to put under the bin

Fake bills for printing and taking to bill burning events - though feel free to make your own designs too!

Important: Safety Tips

  • Make sure you have people specifically assigned to consider fire safety, at least one person per bin
  • Consent! Make sure people nearby know the bill burning is about to happen, especially so anyone with breathing difficulties is aware. Announce with a megaphone or PA system.
  • Do not touch the bin when it’s on fire without the heat resistant gloves
  • Choose a location without any flammable things nearby
  • Make sure that the public is not passing by the bin on fire
  • For extra safety consider putting a few bricks under the bin so that the fire doesn’t damage the surface underneath
  • Make sure that the flame and the smoke doesn’t get out of control, you don’t want the smoke to go onto the road and create a traffic risk. If the flame or the smoke is too big, put a lid on the bin to cut off the oxygen supply and choke the flames
  • If you are planning a big event with more than one bin, it would be advisable to have a fire extinguisher
Brighton Don't Pay event

Brighton Don't Pay event

Getting the Word Out

Let people know about it in your local group chat or via social media. You can see an example of an event Brighton is holding above.

Please let us know about your event by emailing:

We can promote the event on social media, send out targeted emails to signed-up people in your local area, and possibly provide funds.

We would also love to receive photos and videos from you after you’ve burnt your bills!

Everything Else!

Of course, bill burning is only one element of a protest.

You could make it the centrepiece of a rally; with music, testimonies on the cost of living crisis, chants (check out the Glasgow video for inspiration) and more.

Check out this guide for some tips on how to organise a demonstration.