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What a waste

When asked to write this blog, just one thought, one idea and only one  simple reaction came to me. Rubbish.

As part my work as a director of Eco Action Partnership (sustainability consultants) I advise ways to reduce environmental impacts and footprints for various events and clients and we’ve just finished our fifth year working on the Isle of Wight music festival.

Last year, at least 1 in 6 people (at least) left the site on Monday morning leaving behind their tents. And not only their tents. They upped sticks and left their tent, their sleeping bags, clothes, chairs, gazebos, wellies, food, drink and actually anything else they’d brought that they couldn’t be bothered to pack up and take home.

In itself, although it’s a problem for the IOW organisers and for the growing amount of waste ending up in landfill from the event, what possible impact does one festival have on the greater picture of waste and landfill? Well, multiply this festival by all the major (and some of the smaller) festivals in the UK who have similar problems. Then think about the number of events in Europe, then in the US, Canada, Australia, NZ etc and you get some idea of the actual problem happening, and happening each year and every year.

Why does this happen then? Partly being a bit lazy. Partly buying cheaper tents that don’t stand up to the pressures of the weekend. But also partly the misunderstanding that all tents left will be gathered up and either recycled or used in great numbers by interested charities.

We tried various initiatives to tackle the problem, but the recurring trip around the campsites post event, whilst actually showing slight improvement, is still like a warzone and very upsetting on many levels.

So we started Love Your Tent as a reaction and possible solution.

The message is simple. Take your tent (and everything else) home with you.

If people turn up to festivals and events and they see that same message, take your tent and belongings home, and the same logos and films etc then it starts to become part of the fabric of attending such an event. We want to make it as socially unacceptable to leave your tent behind as it is now to smoke in any public place. Unheard of a few years ago but now part of everyday life.

The campaign is also aiming at a sort of cross-festival pollination of ideas, all of them working together to tackle this problem and come up with supportable and workable options.

At the Isle of Wight festival this year we introduced the campaign to festival goers for the first time, and also ran a separate campsite called Respect. In order to gain entry to Respect you had to sign up to take your tent home, and also to sign up to the tent commandments (see below)! This fostered a sense of everybody looking out for everyone else and taking care of their special area.

At the end of what was the wettest IOW ever, and when other campsites had hundreds of tents abandoned and/or destroyed, Respect had 18-22 tents in at the end of Monday. Not only that, Respecters had gathered all their rubbish and recycling into separate bags and placed them in the right pile as they exited the campsite.

We also had higher profile support from the artists playing including Elbow, Noel Gallagher, Feeder, Boyce Avenue and lots more who contributed messages of support for facebook and signed official Love Your Tent t-shirts.

Leaving such amounts of waste behind is wrong, wastes a huge amount of resources and money, and is just a very sad reflection on our consumer and throw away society. But, the IOW has proved to us that this can work, and we will be working hard to spread the love throughout the festival world across the globe.

Log onto the facebook page to see what other people think of the campaign, or go to to see our animation film we made to show at festivals and other events.

Love Your Tent!


  1. Thou shalt Love Your Tent.
  2. Thou shalt not buy cheap, one-use tents, but invest in one that will last for years to come.
  3. Thou shalt never leave your tent anywhere for someone else to dismantle and take to landfill (recycling facilities for all tent components currently don’t exist)
  4. Thou shalt RESPECT your tent and the area in which you pitch it, making sure you clean up after yourself……even during and after a weekend of partying at the Festival.
  5. Thou shalt spread the word and encourage others to Love Their Tent 
  6. Thou shalt clearly demonstrate your devotion to your tent and send evidence to  for a chance to win 2013 Isle of Wight Festival tickets. (Keep it clean people)
  7. Thou shalt love thy neighbour and not disturb them by playing bongos at 4am. 
  8. Thou shalt follow all additional on-site guidelines in order to keep the respect for others and the environment.
  9. Thou shalt join our community and keep up to date on news from Festival land as well as the chance to enter other exclusive competitions.
  10. Thou shalt be happy campers and share the love.


Filed under: Climate Change, Sustainability

Comments: 8 Comments on What a waste
Posted on: Jul 26 2012

8 Responses to “What a waste”

  1. Recycling waste is the best project to keep the environment clean and healthy.. I thought, Part of loving your tent is repairing. Unfortunately, this is quite difficult to do at present. Very well approach…

  2. David Telford says:

    Good blog and great idea, but what about producer resposnibility. Who is producing and selling cheap tents that are not repairable/ or recyclable. Producers/ Imporaters of all goods need to be challanged as to how end-user can repair, maintain or recycle their products. At the very least they should be forced to state the anticiapted life and If they are designed as 1 -use then they should have some responsibility for making recyclable. Perhaps Love your tents can give purchasing guidelines and the questions to ask. Give the consumer information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.

  3. Tom Newholm says:

    I think it’s a great approach. Buying a decent tent and loving it has to be the main goal. If too much overt effort is put into re-use and recycling then there is a risk of undermining the main message.

    Part of loving your tent is repairing. Unfortunately, this is quite difficult to do at present. Have you thought about having a small spares and repairs tent for the Respecters? Bringing a loyal tent back to life would be a great message.

    • Rick Storey says:

      Hi Tom
      We had thought about it – and your comment just makes us realise that we should definitely do it – Love Your Tent are off to another couple of festivals in the UK this season, and intend to roll it out big next year, so we will build this into the bigger plan.
      Like the comment of bringing a loyal tent back to life

  4. [...] Department of Energy and Climate Change Blog [...]

  5. martin hunt says:

    Whilst I strongly agree that we should re-educate people to take their rubbish with them, wherever that are; that is a huge battle to come.
    In the meantime how can we justify having no means of re-use andor re-cyling such materials? Landfill is the worst option and this is hardly a new problem. Surely, a social firm could make good use of such materials and most festival sites are well established and known.
    Why haven’t we joined the dots on this problem and made far better use than putting to landfill?

    (NB this is entirely a personal view and does not reflect the views or policies of the Welsh Government)

    • C.L.Beaumont-Rydings says:

      Message to all really. How about getting volunteers from charities to send the tent, blankets, cooking stove and anything esle remotely helpful to send or take to charities abroad? Thinking refugee camps and disaster areas. Winter time will
      be awful for them. So don’t sling it –
      get someone to bring it to those who need. Have a charity line hook up to speed the process.

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