UK Association Of Independent Festivals Tackles Cheap Tent Epidemic

Festival organizers are encouraging their guests to take their tents home with them
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
– Festival organizers are encouraging their guests to take their tents home with them
Glastonbury may not be an AIF member, but it takes the same initiative as the association
Organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK have issued a call to retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling “festival tents” as single-use items, which result in almost 900 tons of plastic waste every year.
The call comes as part of a new initiative from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), which has also launched a consumer-facing campaign urging festival-goers to ‘Take Your Tent Home’ and ‘Say No To Single Use’.
AIF members include some of the well-known independent festivals in the country such as Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and End Of The Road.
According to AIF figures, each year an estimated 250,000 tents are left at music festivals across the UK. Most aren’t collected by charities and can’t be recycled, meaning the vast majority end up in landfill.  
The average tent weighs 3.5kg and is mostly made of plastic – the equivalent of 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups.
Major retailers are cashing in on the worldwide festival craze by offering tents that are co cheap, people leave them on site rather than take them home. 
Research by Comp-A-Tent suggests that as many as 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco.
“As part of its ‘Festival Season’ range, Argos offers a four-man tent for £29.99, a sleeping bag for £9.99, an airbed for £14.99 and camping chair for £7.99 – a total of £62.96.  Amazon also offers two-man tents for festivals for as little as £19.99,” the AIF release states.
AIF’s ten-year report, published in 2018, revealed that 9.7% of people attending its member events had ditched a tent during that year’s festival season, equating to an estimated 875 tonnes of plastic wast.
The Take Your Tent Home campaign follows the Drastic On Plastic campaign, launched last year, which saw 65 AIF member festivals commit to eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021. 
In 2018, 93% of signatories ditched plastic straws, 40% banned the sale of drinks in single-use plastic on-site, 40% replaced single-use bar cups with reusable cups, 67% sold branded reusable drinks bottles, and 87% promoted the use of reusable bottles.
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 ‘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.”     
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