The other weekend at the Latitude Festival I witnessed the best and worst of human behaviour in a 24-hour period. The best was seeing a bar worker sprinting 50 yards after a customer to make good some accidental short-changing. The worst example was the dumping of four tents by a group of lads departing early on the final morning.
Festival waste is as old as festivals themselves of course but campsite waste, and abandoned tents in particular are, to my mind, one of the most pernicious elements. A 2014 Buckinghamshire New University survey of 1200 festival-goers in various countries found that that 86 per cent of music festival waste comes from campsites, and 60 per cent of respondents admitted they discarded their festival tents [so the real figure is probably higher].
The problem lies with the decreasing price and quality of tents, relative to the price of festival tickets at least, and the perceived pressure on our time that makes re-use and recycling seem like too much effort for too many people. ‘Single use’ applied to tents as much as other resource-intensive items – here today, sod tomorrow.
When I mentioned the abandoned festival tents to my running buddy Ian be was much more pragmatic about the whole affair. “They see it as cheap accommodation – 4 nights, 8 guys, four tents costing less than £100 in total. At less than £3 per person per night, the additional ‘cost’ of packing up the tents and carrying them home to be stored until the next festival doesn’t make sense.”
I could sort of see his point, but of course it ignores the economic and environmental impact; the cost of the clean-up after a festival and the sheer waste of resources. Most abandoned tents go to landfill, however enlightened the festival organisers try to be. There have been numerous noble attempts to gather tents and distribute them to those in need of shelter (refugees in ‘the Jungle’ in Calais being one such opportunity). But no one seems to have cracked it yet. A quick visit to the website of the ReTent initiative http://www.retent.co.uk and their social media feeds suggests they ceased to be active around 5 years ago.
Bigger brains than mine have worked on this problem for much longer, so I don’t expect any immediate solution (do let me know if they already exist). In the meantime, I would encourage all ‘right-thinking’ festival-goers to encourage other campers not to abandon their tents but to take them away for re-use, recycling or re-purposing – see links below. Happy festival-going!
http://giftyourgear.com/gift-your-gear-reuse-recycle-old-unwanted- tent #giftyourgear @giftyourgear
The Tent Commandments [Credit: http://www.loveyourtent.com #justtakeithome]
1. Thou Shalt Love Your Tent
2. Thou Shalt always take said tent back home again
3. Thou Shalt Respect Your Tent and the area in which you pitch it making sure you clean up after yourself
4. Thou Shalt spread the word and encourage others to Love their Tent
5. Thou Shalt recycle your waste throughout the weekend, taking it to the relevant recycling facilities
6. Thou Shalt love thy neighbour and not disturb them by playing bongos at 4am
7. Thou Shalt help less fortunate neighbours who didn’t bring tent instructions and after 2 hours are still trying to put the frigging thing up!
8. Thou Shalt invite any lonely campers for dinner or drink
10.Thou Shalt be happy campers and share the love