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Encouraging tent reuse amongst festival-goers

We all share a love of music festivals, but there is a problem.

The impact of a weekend of carefree abandon at a music festival is regularly exposed when the crowds eventually disperse to reveal a vast wasteland of discarded festival tents, scattered over the once unblemished surroundings.

During the summer months in the UK, music festivals are a prominent feature of the cultural landscape. In 2009, over two million people attended one of nearly seven hundred music festivals that were staged throughout the country. With festivals at their peak of popularity, the phenomenon of masses of abandoned tents is an increasing environmental concern.  

The ‘disposable culture’ that surrounds these events has proved to be a growing headache for festival organisers and environmental groups – a massive problem, that seems to be drowned out by the music.


Why does this problem exist?

There is a lack of connection between the festival-goer and the tent itself. Two man tents are available for as little as £8, so campers don’t see the worth in making the effort to clean, dismantle and repack a tent to use again.

A huge misconception is that all the abandoned tents will be collected by charities for reuse, however, the reality is that this only happens to a very small percentage. Recycling facilities for the various tent components do not exist either. The easiest solution for the festival organisers is to dump them in landfill despite the fact they have to pay for every tonne of waste dumped.

Festival organisers have told us that they do not wish to promote the option of recyclability to campers. It is the reuse – not single use – of tents that should be encouraged. This should be done in a playful manner, to be in keeping with the tone of the festival.


How does ReTent address this problem?

ReTent is a service which provides an incentive for campers to repeatedly reuse their tents. Throughout the duration of the participating festival, tents are sprayed with a stamp of attendance by the ReTent team. The tent itself becomes a memento of all festivals visited – rather like a passport collecting stamps.

Applying the ReTent festival stamp of attendance.

Campers are urged to reuse their tents, or ‘ReTent’, after the festival. They are then asked to capture the act by taking a snapshot and uploading it to the ReTent Facebook page with a prize offered by the host festival as an incentive for the most impressive ReTent-er. This removes the need for campers to buy new tents year on year, provides a guilt-free conscience and means less mess for organisers to clear up in the aftermath.

Festival-goers posing proudly with their ReTent stamp for their Facebook snap.


A model ReTent-er proving his tent reuse for a prize by going to the lengths of repitching on his roof.

With the backing of selected environmental organisations, ReTent will be rolled out across all festivals willing to adopt the system, in order to encourage as many festival-goers as possible to ReTent time and time again.