Minimising Waste: Upcycling Tents to Eco-Friendly Initiatives

Tents are one of the many items frequently abandoned at music festivals, camping sites, and other large events, contributing significantly to landfill pollution. According to a BBC report, major U.S. music festivals generate approximately 100 tonnes of solid waste, while UK festivals contribute an estimated 23,500 tonnes annually. Below, we explore innovative materials used as alternatives for building tents, like those being upcycled for the 2024 Paris Olympics, creative campaigns, and a few other examples on how discarded tents are transformed into apparel and accessories, preventing them from ending up in landfills.


Upcycling 'L'Arc De Triomphe' Wrapped Fabric

In 2021, the iconic Arc de Triomphe in Paris was transformed by the temporary art installation "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped," by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The entire monument was covered in 25,000 square meters of silver-blue fabric, secured by 3,000 meters of red rope. Fast forward to 2024, this material is set to be given a new lease on life: it will be upcycled into shaded structures and tents for the 2024 Paris Olympics. This initiative is led by the famous global environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans, where sustainability and creative reuse is to be witnessed in a high-profile international setting.

(Image credit: L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped - Christo and Jeanne-Claude)


No Tent Left Behind

Last year, Decathlon UK launched an eco-friendly campaign titled 'No Tent Left Behind' to address the issue of tents ending up in landfills. This initiative focused on the popular Quechua Tent, a favourite among festival-goers, sold by Decathlon. The campaign aimed to raise awareness and encourage responsible consumer behavior by offering a £29.99 gift card as a full refund to customers who returned their used Quechua tents after festival use. The returned tents were then either repaired and resold or reused, thus promoting a circular economy and reducing waste.

(Image credit: Decathlon UK - No Tent Left Behind Campaign)


137 Unrepairable Jackets - Upcycled Tent

In 2023, Canadian brand Arc'teryx, known for its high-quality outdoor apparel and equipment, took a creative leap in sustainability by crafting an upcycled tent for athletes made from 137 unrepairable jackets. This repurposed patchwork tent, constructed from the label's own wasted jackets, is made with a circular approach to waste reuse. This innovative project was featured in their 22-minute film "Continuum." Arc'teryx also operates a ReBird Service Centre, which focuses on repairing and reselling items. This center is a key part of their commitment to upcycle, resell, and extend the care and life of outdoor gear.

(Image credit: Arc'teryx Outdoor Gear)


Molly Sellars - Upcycled Tent Apparel

Molly Sellars, a British fashion designer and founder of her eponymous brand, specialises in upcycling abandoned festival tents into innovative outdoor clothing and accessories. Based in the UK, she addresses festival waste by transforming these materials into limited-quantity products such as outdoor apparel, sleeping bags, tote bags, bottle bags, and drawstring bags. Her unique approach promotes sustainability and offers creative solutions to reduce waste generated in the festivals.

(Image credit: Molly Sellars - Tent Upcycling Project)

Tentation - Upcycling Abandoned Tents

Tentation is an upcycling brand based in Hamburg, Germany, that crafts eco-friendly apparel and bags by giving new life to various discarded materials. The brand specialises in repurposing old advertising banners, torn kites, umbrellas, and abandoned tents from music festivals. Recognising the water-repellant nature of tent fabrics, Tentation cleverly transforms these rescued tents into durable rainwear. The brand being committed to environmental sustainability, meticulously designs its products to minimise waste and convert rescued resources into long-lasting items.

(Image credit: Tentation - Upcycled Apparel)

Vango x Trekke - Past Tents Collection

Vango, a Scottish brand known for crafting tents and camping equipment, had partnered with Trekke, another Scottish label that creates travel bags and accessories for adventurers. Together, they launched a limited edition collection named 'Past Tents,' in which they upcycled old heritage tent fabrics into bags, preventing these materials from ending up in landfills. Beyond this sustainable collaborative effort, Vango has a committed camping recycling initiative. This program includes a special repair team dedicated to fixing outdoor gear; items that cannot be repaired are creatively reused in other products, further extending their lifecycle and reducing waste.

(Image credit: Vango x Trekke - Past Tents Collection) 

The journey from abandoned festival tents to innovative, sustainable products, which would otherwise contribute to landfill waste, along with the alternatives and initiatives of repurposing materials to reduce environmental impact, creates an experimental yet creative space in the upcycling realm. With more and more instances like these aimed at reducing waste, it encourages mindfulness about sustainability in the future events.

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