One-in-3 Tents ABANDONED at Festivals

Do What Oxford Says, then Do What It Doesn’t: a Recipe for Food Sustainability
June 22, 2017
PPL PWR @ Brainchild ’17
July 31, 2017

Roll back the clock to 2008. It’s simpler times. Bloc Party, The Killers, Tenacious D are headlining Reading 2008. I’ve got more hair; a lot more hair…

It was cool at the time!

After an awesome weekend, the gf and I heading back to the car park – her mum’s driving us home – and though we’ve waited until late into the afternoon, from the top of the car park, Reading Festival is awash with a sea of multi-coloured tents, a distinct lack of people…

Fast forward to Glastonbury 2016…

I’m at the bottom of Pennard Hill at Glastonbury Festival, holding up a tent pole, whilst Comp-A-Tent founder, Amanda, shouts over the tents,

“47 in this quadrant”

Much to the confusion of people in their tents (and those outside them, watching us).

Fast Forward to the Tuesday Morning, Glastonbury 2016…

“18 in this quadrant”

In a far emptier Pennard Hill, Amanda’s running around counting the remaining tents.

By the end of the day, we’ve calculated that,

1 in 3 Tents have been left, abandoned, and destined for landfill or incineration.

And it’s not just Glastonbury.

Across the UK at music festivals, 240 000 tents are abandoned, and that number increases to,

750 000 tents abandoned, across the whole of Europe, each year!


We love festivals, but this CANNOT continue!

They’re abandoned for numerous reasons:

  • Cheap
  • Used once a year
  • Muddy/Wet
  • Difficult to Pack Down

But what about refugee collections?

It’s often believed that tents abandoned at festivals are taken down and collected up by a merry band of volunteers to be sent to refugee camps.

This does happen. But only a few hundred of the tens of thousands of tents left behind. At Bestival 2015, Comp-A-Tent’s Amanda led such an effort, recruiting volunteers, packing down tents and stockpiling them for collection.

But this number of tents is minimal compared to those abandoned, many of which are either dirty or damaged. The time, energy and coordination to set this all up doesn’t make much financial sense; it’s a bandaid on a symptom, not solving a problem.

Some festivals designate donations points, where you can drop of your tent to donate it to good causes, but if you’ve gone to the effort to pack your tent down, you’ll probably going to keep it.

On top if this,  festival are wary of setting up an official, large scale, salvage operation as they fear this may have the unintended consequence of encouraging far more people to leave their tents – hence why the prob persists.

DID YOU KNOW: At many festivals, security staff go round every remaining, standing tent, unpegging and/or collapsing it, as a mean to check for bodies inside. For both refugee collectors and general salvagers, it makes it much harder to tell if a tent is in good condition and reusable or broken.

So what’s the solution? Well, we don’t know, but we’re sure as hell gonna try and solve the environmental problem!

PPL PWR works with 2 companies tackling this problem head-on.

Camplight: Salvages and repairs tents abandoned at music festivals, then rents them, pre-pitched, to festival goers, as a low-cost glamping campsite

Comp-A-Tent: Eliminates the landfill and incineration of tent waste, through their innovative compostable tent. Made entirely from biodegradable materials, it’s picked up and returned on site for deposit. The tents are sent for composting, biodegrading into organic waste.

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