Should festivals impose a ‘Tent Tax’?

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A proposal by Clean Up Britain would see festival-goers charged a £25 deposit to pitch their tent at festivals – which would only be returned when they’ve returned home with their tent.

It’s a move that’s a clear response to the increasing problem with waste at festivals – particularly people leaving their tents and other equipment when they go home. While some festivals reclaim any abandoned tents and donate them to charity, it’s not an ideal solution. I’ve been at festivals when groups of young people have trashed their tents, “rather than let someone else have them”, so many abandoned tents are unusable and just need to be disposed of (and that’s the ones that aren’t otherwise ‘soiled’…).

There are a number of problems contributing to this issue and personally I’m not convinced that a ‘tent tax’ would be a solution.

First, we have the issue of low cost tents and a disposable culture

My first tent cost me about £30. It was a two man tent and it lasted me the better part of 10 years (in which time it saw dozens of festivals, camping trips and hikes). It was still in good nick when I replaced it with a lightweight tent for hiking with (Vango Tempest 200).

The point is, you can get a good tent for pretty cheap and combine that with a more wasteful culture that exists in certain parts of our society, then it makes it easy to just walk away and leave your tent.

Secondly, people are just getting too fucked

I’m certain with a clear head, most people wouldn’t consider ditching camping gear that could last them for years to come, but waking up after a three day festival bender, people just can’t be arsed dismantling and packing a tent with a hangover.

Maybe it’s just something that comes with age. The ability to be a bit more measured when it comes to party consumables. But, being so fucked you can’t take your shit home with you? Damn.

Lastly, the group mentality kicks in

It’s not a small group of people that are doing this. It’s lots of people – presumably from all walks of life. It’s easy for us to end up doing stuff just because people around us are doing it, but we really need to be more self aware to enable us to take a different path.

It’s good that we’re now having a wider conversation about the camping waste at festivals. I’m not certain that the ‘tent tax’ idea would be manageable (how would it be enforced?), but certainly something needs to be done.

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