Festivals call on retailers to stop selling ‘festival tents’

by Sam Warrenger
Reading Festival Aftermath Campsite Plastic Messy

As part of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), over 60 British festivals have called on retailers to stop marketing “festival tents” as single-use items. Tents left at festivals result in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every year.

A ‘Take Your Tent Home’ campaign launched today will encourage fans to ‘Say no to single-use’. The AIF estimates 250,000 tents are left at UK festivals each year, the vast majority of which end up in landfill. The average tent contains as much plastic waste as 8,750 straws. Many problems can be fixed in minutes with these easy tent repairs.

AIF members include Shambala, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and Boomtown Fair, who said today on Twitter: “We’ve all seen the absolute devastation left at the end of the festival; broken plastic airbeds, discarded camping chairs and cheap flooded tents that have only been used once… it’s absolutely heartbreaking!!”

The AIF said major retailers have a history of selling cheap tents marketed for festival use. They cite research which suggests 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from Argos or Tesco.

When TheFestivals published ‘Six ways to recycle your tent after a festival‘ last month, some social media followers commented they weren’t aware you should never leave your tent in the field. The AIF ten-year report found almost 10 per cent of attendees ditched their tent in 2018.

Research from environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle says that the carbon impact of manufacturing an average tent of 3.5 kg that ends up in landfill is 25 kg CO2e.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture. AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem.

“The message here is not to buy a more expensive tent – with a single tent carrying the same amount of plastic as more than 8,700 plastic straws, festival audiences can take positive action and reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and reusing it, ensuring that it doesn’t become a single-use item this summer.”

Co-Founder and Director of Shambala festival Chris Johnson said: “We’re finally waking up to the climate crisis en masse. The stuff we use is part of the problem – everything has an impact, usually hidden from the user. As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history.”

Argos told the BBC: “We offer a variety of tents at a range of prices. They are all sold with a bag to encourage re-use.”

RECOMMENDED: Our favourite tents that you’ll never want to leave behind

Image credit: Jack Cheeseborough / (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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