Banning single-use tents could leave charities without stock

According to The Independent, “The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) – an organisation that represents and empowers independent UK festivals like Shambala, Boomtown and Boardmasters – is urging retailers to stop marketing and selling tents as single-use items.” 

According to the AIF, the average tent is made largely of plastic and weighs approximately 3.5kg –  the equivalent of 8,750 straws. 

AIF also found that 10 percent of people attending festivals will leave their tent behind. 

Along with banning single-use tents, another proposition is to simply take them home and ensure that they will be used repetitively. However, this is left to the initiative of festival-goers, and as to whether or not they’ll actually carry them home long after the festival staged has been packed up. 

Help Refugees volunteer, Layla Fraser, believes that while banning single-use tents will be immensely beneficial to the environment, at the moment the charity she currently partners with is benefiting from the sea of forgotten tents. 

“You meet loads of cool people. Go around listening to music while doing the work. You can do it for one day, a few hours, or multiple days. You just do it until the charity isn’t there anymore or until most of the good tents are packed up.”

Though the tents go on to benefit charities like Help Refugees, the name of the charity that organises the cleanup is FWRD.

According to their website, they’re the first and only registered charity in the UK dedicated to helping the most vulnerable in society, through the collection and redistribution of abandoned items at festivals. Registration to volunteer is available on the front page of their website. 

According to Layla, 50 percent of the tents left at festivals such as Boomtown and Glastonbury, are able to be recovered.

When I mention to her that festival organisers are trying to ban single-use tents, she comments, “I think that is a really great step in the right direction. Realistically, these non-plastic tents are going cost more so people are going to want to pack them down, and take them home. Festival organisers will save a lot of money on clean up teams that they could possibly put towards charitable stalls for refugees, homelessness, and more people will get involved.”

The impact that collecting single-use tents is evident through Layla’s work as a volunteer. “When we went to Calais in October, there were thousands of tents in the warehouse ready to be distributed. I’d say that anyone who lives near a festival should donate two days to volunteering. I know single handedly I cleaned up 50 to 100 tents.” 

Layla weighs 50 kg and stands at 5’1, proving that you don’t exactly need to be superhuman to donate a few hours of your time.  

According to a previous article written by WNOL, the French police are conducting evictions every 48 hours, which really goes to challenge how beneficial these tents are to refugees living rough in Calais and Dunkirk.

“The men in Calais who are living rough have a hard time during evictions taking tents. If they can have a tent that they can travel with quickly, that they can take on their back, there’s less chance of their tent not being there when they come back,” says Layla. 

Though there is a likelihood that tents could be confiscated or slashed, Layla strongly discourages sitting back and doing nothing. “It’s definitely not enough but its on its way there. I guess the point is to just not do nothing. Everybody can have an impact, but its definitely not enough. The best thing to do would be to carry on donating tents, especially during winter, because it can actually kill people not having shelter. It’s saving lives.” 

“It’s also children and babies, newborn babies, that can be in the snow without shelter. We need to be more urgent about issues like these. It’s a life or death situation. The festival comes at a good time because they’ll have a stock of tents they can use towards winter.”

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