There are many glorious things about festival season. The explosion of music and the arts is, of course, the most popular. Fun, camaraderie and catharsis are just a few others. But let’s not forget the joys of camping on site.
For many festival-goers, living in a tent for the duration of an event is part and parcel of the experience. Most people treat this part of festival culture as an adventure, but not everyone thinks about what they leave behind when the music stops.
Glastonbury is leading the way when it comes to green policies at music festivals. But despite huge recycling initiatives, the event still created 600 tons of waste in 2014 — only 214 tons of which was recycled.
The recent single-use plastic ban will help. But the use of so-called “festival tents” is a growing problem. Often made from a relatively cheap plastic in order to keep the cost down, these tents are all too often left behind on festival sites.
Shockingly, more than 250,000 of these temporary shelters are left behind on sites every year. The truth is that people should be using these tents repeatedly. The fact that retailers are marketing them as “single-use” is making the problem worse.
Even if you’re not planning on attending another festival anytime soon, you should never leave your festival tent behind. OK, so you’re not planning to sleep under it again. But that doesn’t mean the tent has no value. In fact, there are 15 ingenious ways you can recycle your old festival tent.
1. Protect your plants
Some plants need a helping hand in order to withstand the elements — particularly during the early stages of growth. Use your old festival tent to create a makeshift gazebo for your fledgling flowers and shrubs. This is also a good way of protecting certain plants from unexpected or unseasonal frosts.
2. Create features in your garden
If you’re stuck for what to do with the structure of your festival tent, you might be able to use the poles to create an interesting garden feature. Certain plant species will grow around the poles over time — creating a natural arch or dome.
3. Create your own gazebo
In many respects, a basic gazebo is like an open tent. Use the poles and fabric of your festival tent to create a simple gazebo to provide shade.
4. Make bags
Sticking with the creative theme, tent fabric is perfect for making shopping and tote bags. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, the process shouldn’t be too difficult. You can even use multiple tents to create multi-coloured designs you won’t find in shops.
5. Make ponchos
If you’re a regular festival or concert-goer, you’re probably used to getting drenching in downpours. After all, the show must always go on. Tent fabric is perfect for making durable ponchos. And unlike the ponchos you often get in camping stores, these aren’t made with flimsy plastic.
6. Fly a kite
If you’re a creative type, there are hundreds of potential uses for the fabric in tents. For example, you could use it, along with the guy lines and poles, to create your own kite. The materials used in festival tents often contain strong plastic compounds which are very durable in the face of windy conditions.
7. Use them as groundsheets
If you have children in your home, you’re probably used to messes on your floors. Crayon, felt tip pen, food, and ink can cause havoc on a good carpet. Rather than restricting your child’s access to carpeted areas of your home, use your old festival tent as a ground sheet. Waterproof, greaseproof and tear-proof, tent fabric is the perfect barrier between your kids and your expensive carpeting.
8. Use them to protect upholstered furniture
There are several occasions that call for extra protection for your sofas and armchairs. Perhaps you’re planning a party? Or maybe you have a puppy or kitten you’re training. Whatever the reason, use your old festival tent as a protective cover. Even if it gets dirty, throw it in the wash and use it again and again.
9. Make storage sacks
Remember those sacks in which you used to carry your school swimming gear? You can create them with fabric from old festival tents. Use them for carrying possessions, long-term storage or for packed lunches.
10. Arts and crafts
The latest festival tents come in a multitude of colour schemes and patterns. If you don’t have a practical use for them, cut them up for arts and crafts. Let the children express their artistic flair with them. You can even mount them in picture frames to creating unique wall art for your home.
11. Protect your car windscreen
Extremes in weather aren’t always kind on cars. In the summer, blaring sun can beat down on a windscreen and raise the temperature inside the vehicle considerably. When you get inside, you have to turn up the air conditioning to 11 in order to make things bearable — using a lot of additional fuel. But by protecting your windscreen with your old tent fabric, you can block a lot of the sun and keep the temperature inside the car relatively low.
Your old tent also makes a great protective barrier during winter. Drape it over your windscreen at night, and you won’t have to spend several minutes de-icing it the next morning.
12. A mattress protector
Nothing degrades a mattress more quickly than moisture. Whether it’s from leaks, spillages or perspiration, moisture can ruin a mattress — and cause serious odour problems — very quickly. Fit your old festival tent fabric to your mattress before you fit the first sheet. This creates a very tough barrier that’s completely impervious to liquids.
13. Line your child’s school bag
What child doesn’t spill drinks inside their school bag? And what child doesn’t inadvertently set their bag down in a puddle from time to time? You can protect the bag, and its contents, by lining the interior with your old tent fabric. It’s completely waterproof, and it will withstand repeated punishment indefinitely.
14. Make a table protector
Let’s face it, if you’re draping a table cloth over your best dining table, it doesn’t matter what the protective barrier underneath looks like. Tent fabric or plastic is waterproof, so it’s great at protecting wooden tables from spillages.
15. Make a knee protector for gardening
Do you love to tend to your garden? If you do, you’ll probably spend a lot of time on your knees — planting, pruning and weeding. Over time, this can take a heavy toll on your knees. Wrap up a cushion or pillow in your old festival tent fabric, and use it as protection for your knees.
The end of your next festival doesn’t have to mean the end for your tent. Whether you reuse or repurpose it, you’ll be doing your little bit for the environment.