The morning after a festival of fun can sometimes feel like a little sad. Disappointed that a fun weekend has flown by so quickly and not looking forward to the reality of going home. But I am never more sad than when I leave a campsite with a temporary town’s worth of abandoned belongings and tents scattered and sprawling across the countryside. I am appalled and disgusted by the waste that is left at some festival campsites. It’s not a new problem, it is a UK problem and it’s been happening for years. A study by Virtual Festivals in 2009 showed that more than 1 in 5 people have left their tent at a festival. A very small percentage of tents, camping equipment, fancy dress and personal items are salvaged by other festival-goers and community groups. But the majority of discarded tents are left for the festival to dispose of and transport off site, lots with their contents still inside while their thoughtless owners have a light journey home abandoning their belongings to be someone else’s problem.
This has become everyone’s problem. Staff and volunteers spend weeks dismantling them, festivals have to remove and dispose of them, at the cost of the festival and ultimately at the cost of audiences. An estimated 25% of campsite waste to landfill comprises of abandoned tents. The facts are shocking.
It’s a waste on every level, the carbon produced to make the tent, the fuel used to transport it, the energy needed to sell it and the money spent to buy it… then to immediately dispose of materials that can’t be recycled and are not reused only to be transported and left in landfill is nonsense.
So, when t comes to your tent, PLEASE TAKE IT HOME!
So when Amie G and I were at the lovely Malmo festival doing their green audit, and in full flow, one of the brainstorming ideas we had for this years’ GREENER FESTIVAL AWARDS Trophy for all of our winning festivals it seemed like a good opportunity to use these materials that would otherwise go to landfill to create our award and highlight the problem. Fuelled by the enthusiasm that Amie injects into everything we work on, the team agreed, Amie went home and I took on the challenge.
Bestival organiser, Duncan agreed that we could salvage materials from the site, Aylin and the green team dismantled and transported the broken tents across the site and Claire agreed that when she left the site Dexter (her van) would transport and store them until we knew what the next stage might be. After having a chat with Kate at ‘With In Tent’ I realised that this was not going to as easy as giving an expert the materials and waiting for the postman. Someone needed to collect the tents, empty the tents, select and cut the usable material, clean the material, dry the material, print on the material, design the award and sew the materials. Oh and it needed to be freestanding and printed with 100% non-toxic water-based inks in a month.
That said, it is done and I am rather relieved and excited to present our awards on Tuesday. The AGF team and I are enormously grateful for generously giving skills, time, energy, fuel, advise, permission, resources and support. What a team. and here we are – our beautiful new awards!
So it’s a BIG Thank you to:
Beth and Peter at I Dress Myself: After visiting a few printers locally to have a chat and research how to print on to tents I discovered that printing in non-toxic water based inks is a bit of a foreign language to most printers. I took the advise of as many ‘eco’ printers as I could find on the internet (which is not as many as I thought). Beth from I Dress Myself emailed me back and said they loved the project. Peter tested the inks would not fall to dust and ensured our design could work and be printed within a week.
Larisa Tilaks. With 50 years experience Larisa has made hats for royalty, spent nights sewing sequins and pearls into wedding dresses she’s designed, cut and sewn from rough sketches. Larisa is a special lady with fabric in her blood. The awards would not have survived this stage of sewing, talc and perseverance if I had naively learned to use a sewing machine.
Andy Tilling. Friend and fellow Womble, Andy can turn other people’s rubbish into great things, he makes buildings out of salvaged materials, grows masses of lovely fruit and veg, fixes things and lives at the bottom of my road. What better place to salvage some wood and use his skills.
Aylin Mcnamara, Claire O’Neill and Duncan Turner, without you there would have been no materials.
And finally Charley Flemming, Claire Oddy and Alex Emanuel for documenting the project on film and your creativity. Watch out for new short film soon with our special thanks to The Isle of Wight Festival and Eco Action Partnership for their help with that film and for Bestival and Glastonbury for their support.
You are all legends! Thank you.
Posted by HELEN