The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has called on major retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing festival tents as single-use items.

The group has launched a new campaign titled ‘take your tent home’, which can be viewed online here.

AIF members include some of the biggest and most well-known independent festivals in the country such as Shambala, Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters, Kendal Calling and End Of The Road.

Each year, an estimated 250,000 tents are left at music festivals across the UK. Most aren’t collected by charities and can’t be recycled, meaning the vast majority end up in landfill.  

The average tent weighs 3.5kg and is mostly made of plastic – the equivalent of 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups. Major retailers have a history of selling cheap tents marketed specifically for festival-use.

Research by Comp-A-Tent suggests that as many as 36% of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco.

As part of its ‘Festival Season’ range, Argos offers a four-man tent for £29.99, a sleeping bag for £9.99, an airbed for £14.99 and camping chair for £7.99 – a total of £62.96.  Amazon also offers two-man tents for festivals for as little as £19.99.

Research from environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle says that the carbon impact of manufacturing a 3.5 kg tent that ends up in landfill is 25 kg CO2e (3).

The AIF campaign includes an animated educational video that will be displayed across social media for all participating festivals, as well as assets being displayed on screens and at entrances to festival campsites throughout the 2019 season.

The Take Your Tent Home campaign follows the Drastic On Plastic campaign, launched by AIF last year in partnership with RAW Foundation, which empowered 65 of the trade body’s member festivals to commit to eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture. AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem.

Co-Founder and Director of Shambala festival Chris Johnson said: “We’re finally waking up to the climate crisis en masse. The stuff we use is part of the problem – everything has an impact, usually hidden from the user.

“As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history.”

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