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Use it - and DON'T lose it!

Jun 25 2012 Posted by Laura Canning

Bringing a tent to a festival this summer? A budget one that you can just leave behind when you go? Please don't, say festival organisers, who are counting the costs of recycling and binning discarded tents after the event is over.

The Isle of Wight Festival, which was held last weekend, saw around 30,000 people attend with tents in 2011 – and one in six of these tents left behind, adding greatly to the clean-up times and costs.

This year, festival goers were urged to go green, and make sure they take their tent and other belongings home with them. Sustainability consultants to the festival, Eco Action Partnership, launched a ‘Love Your Tent’ campaign to encourage people to pack them up, take them home and reuse them.

Some festivals work with overseas aid charities to try and collect the tents for reuse in developing countries or as disaster emergency accommodation. But there are usually not enough volunteers to help with the clean-up operations after a major festival, and some tents are left damaged beyond use, so many are going straight to landfill.

Isle of Wight Festival promoter John Giddings said abandoned tents 'are one of the biggest environmental issues facing festival organisers today.’

He said: ‘Thousands of tents were abandoned at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2011 – that’s around one in six people leaving a tent behind. When you have up to 30,000 tents, it’s an astonishing figure, considering the majority end up in landfill.’

And while Glastonbury isn’t on this year, they’ve had increasing problems with abandoned tents in recent years, with thousands discarded last year there too.

A spokesman for Glastonbury said last year: ‘It's not a crime to leave a tent behind at a festival and I am anxious not to get angry with our customers…[But] the fact is that we need to dispel the myth that overseas aid charities are going to want a load of cheap tents from Asda because they don't.’

The Glastonbury organisers also tried to encourage festival goers to pack up their tents, with a blurb on their website saying last year that: ‘A tent is for life not just for a festival.’

It went on: ‘We want people to not just buy the cheapest tent, spend a little extra and buy yourself a tent that is going to last you a lifetime of camping experiences rather than just a festival or summer.’