Every year millions of us look forward to hearing our favourite bands, enjoying weekends of revelry and camping out with our best mates. Unfortunately the downside to this is that every year thousands of tents are abandoned at festivals across the UK, destined for landfill.
We chat to Love Your Tent’s Juliet Ross-Kelly about how much of an impact campsite waste is having on our environment and what we can do to change this throwaway mentality.
Tell us about Love Your Tent and why it exists?
Love Your Tent is a festival initiative launched in 2012 to persuade festival audiences to clean up after themselves and to take everything home with them when they leave. The campaign has now been adopted by festivals worldwide and has been nominated for 2 European Festival Awards. From an international survey carried out by the Love Your Tent team and in association with Bucks New University it was found that a staggering 86% of total festival waste comes from the campsites. Unfortunately most of this ends up in landfill and 71% causes lasting damage to local plant life. The problem is getting progressively worse with an estimated 1 in 5 people choosing to leave their tents and camping equipment behind when they leave, so we need to act now!
Bastille show their support for 'Love Your Tent'
Why is the waste so problematic?
The sheer scale of it and the time and resource constraints festival organisers are under to return the festival land back to it’s normal use as quickly as possible. For example some of the Isle of Wight Festival land is normally school playing fields so you can understand why a speedy and effective clean-up operation is priority. This means sadly that the vast majority of it is scooped up and sent primarily to landfill.
There are many reasons festival goers choose to leave their tents and camping stuff behind when they leave so it’s not an easy problem to tackle but one of the most surprising one to us is people still think that a flimsy two man tent will be collected from the festival site and sent to an overseas trouble spot to house a family displaced by war or a natural disaster. The truth is it doesn’t happen, we get a really small percentage of tents collected for reuse but the vast majority of them really do go straight to landfill. The message across the board has to be consistently JUST TAKE IT HOME!
How do festivals get involved with the campaign?
The way we approach festivals is two-fold, festivals can either sign up to become a member of the campaign which allows them to use all of our collateral such as our animation film, logos, banners etc in order to communicate our message to their audience ahead of and during the festival; or they can commit to launching our RESPECT/LOVE YOUR TENT campsites at their festival whereby they get all of the above collateral as well as a Love Your Tent team to manage clean, green, respectful campsites at their event.
We also do as much joint social media activity with our partners as possible as we know from experience that just putting our logo on a festival website will not go far in persuading people to change their behaviour. It has to be much more interactive than that and the message has to become part of a wider waste strategy for the festival.
We send a communications team to many of our supporting festivals throughout the summer too so we can interact with the audience as well as get support from bands and artists.
How do audiences get involved with the campaign?
The success of the campaign relies purely on getting the Love Your Tent #justtakeithome message out to as many people as possible and for them to act on that message by taking everything home with them when they leave a festival site. This is where the audience plays a huge part in not only changing their behaviour but also influencing their peers. The more people who join the campaign on social media and become unofficial ambassadors shouting about the message of taking everything home, the more quickly we will see a significant change in behaviour. It’s been years of people not saying anything that has resulted in campers thinking it’s ok to leave everything when they leave.
Social media is key to our engagement with audiences so we try to be as proactive as possible and add value to our audience by running competitions etc. and this year we’ve launched our new Pop It In Challenge where we are encouraging festival goers to get their pop up tents back in the bags they came in ready to take home in record time. All they have to do is film themselves doing it and post it using our #popitinchallenge #loveyourtent hashtags as well as tagging the festival they are at. Throughout our summer tour we will also be filming bands and artists doing the same thing so at the end of the summer we will have a leader board Jeremy Clarkson would be proud of. Ellis Brigham have really kindly offered some prizes for this challenge and have also joined in by filming themselves doing the challenge. Watch the video below to see if they can beat the scouts, the current leaders.
Your Respect and Love Your Tent campsites are brilliant ideas. What sort of feedback have you had since they started?
We launched the Respect field at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2012, which is a free to stay in field close to the arena with 24hr security and all the people who stay in Respect have signed up to our Tent Commandments. The feedback has been amazing from the very start and spaces within this field this year were snapped up within a day of going on release. Demand was so great in fact and the waiting list so long that festival promoter, John Giddings agreed to let us open a second Respect field.
Last year we also opened our new Love Your Tent field which is a pay per stay field with the same ethos as RESPECT but with some added luxuries, so campers get the hot showers, flushing loos, an ethical café serving breakfast in bed and gorgeous food throughout the day, and our secret acoustic stage which brings some of the main stage acts down to play exclusive gigs throughout the weekend. Again demand has been so high we’ve just opened a second field for this year, meaning within a couple of years we’ve managed to convert over 20% of the Isle of Wight’s festival camping into clean, green camping.
We’ve had nothing but positive feedback since we launched our fields with many people saying that if they didn’t get into one of our fields they wouldn’t go the festival. With that sort of feedback and the fact that last year we didn’t have 1 tent or bag of rubbish left on the field at the end makes us more determined to roll this out to as many festivals as possible as the demand from audiences to stay in a safe and clean field is most definitely there.
What can you tell us about your Tent Commandments?
Our Tent Commandments is a bit like a festival camper’s code of practice. We advise campers how to be respectful to the people camping around them and also to the environment whilst they’re on site. It’s a bit tongue in cheek but with a serious edge to it.
A tent purchase doesn’t just have to be solely for festival use. Get the most of out of your tent and explore some of the fantastic camping the UK has to offer, whether it’s wild camping in Scotland or a weekend trip away to the Devonshire coast.
Take a look at our full range of tents here.
Love Your Tent are supported by a variety of festivals across the UK. You can find out more about their campaign here.