The Love Your Tent campaign and Buckinghamshire New University have published the results of a survey of festival-goers about the waste left by punters on festival sites, an increasingly big issue for the festival sector with logistical, environmental and commercial ramifications, and something previously highlighted by the A Greener Festival organisation.
Juliet Ross-Kelly, who set up the Love Your Tent initiative on the back of environmental work she has done with the Isle Of Wight Festival, says LYT aims to discourage an increasingly common practice amongst festival-goers in the UK and beyond, buying a cheap tent for attending a festival, with the intention of just leaving it in the camping field at the end of the event. So that someone else has to dispose of it. In 2013 many supermarkets had two person tents on sale for less than £10. The survey – an industry first – found consumers at festivals have developed a socially unacceptable practice of leaving all of their waste – including tents and camping equipment – behind. This comes at a time when campsite wastes contributes to a staggering 86% of total music festival waste, while 71% of this waste caused lasting land damage to the native flora of the festival sites
In the survey of 1200 festival-goers from multiple countries, a “shocking” 60% admitted to discarding tents at the end of festivals, with a third then saying they intended to continue doing so, and another third unable to say for certain they wouldn’t do it again in the future. This despite the fact 86% of those surveyed recognised waste was a major environmental factor at festivals.
Bucks New University’s Teresa Moore told CMU: “Through our research we wanted to put some data behind the annual media coverage of campsite waste at festivals. What we found confirms a growing problem which is not confined just to the UK. As tent prices continue to fall, more cheap tents are discarded at festivals. It’s time for retailers to take their share of their responsibility and work with event organisers to tackle this problem”.
Ross-Kelly’s work at the Isle Of Wight Festival has included inviting festival-goers to sign up to a commitment regarding taking responsibility for their waste, and their tents, pointing out that by camping alongside similarly committed people festival-goers will be able to stay in a much more pleasant campsite for the duration of the event. Launched in 2012, their ‘RESPECT’ campsite at the Isle of Wight gives consumers the opportunity of an almost VIP camping experience for free, upon signing their TENT COMMANDMENTS, a code of practise that RESPECT is left without waste. She is encouraging other festivals to introduce similar measures, with a bid to reducing campsite waste at festivals by 10% year on year. Ross-Kelly said: “Thanks to the great support and work by Bucks we can see how much work still needs to be done to encourage a change in audience behaviour. By targeting festivals to reduce their campsite waste by 10% year on year we are leading a change that will help to protect festival culture for future generations and from the work that we’ve done with the Isle of Wight Festival, we know it’s achievable”.
Isle of Wight Festival organiser, John Giddings added, “audiences leaving stuff behind is an issue us organisers have been dealing with for many years and the Bucks survey shows it’s a worsening problem. Supporting the Love Your Tent campaign has allowed us to offer a real alternative for campers who are fed up with wading through waste to get to and from their tents each day. We know there is a real market for a sustainable camping