Thousands of tents abandoned in fields because festival goers think they will

Thousands of tents abandoned after the Reading Festival “It backfired and since then, most festivals have rowed back from that, urging people to take them with them,” she said. “But in a way, it is too late.”Some festival goers expressed disappointment that they unwittingly added to the waste problem.Emily Wadsworth, 25, from Clerkenwell, London, who attended the Secret Garden festival last year, said: “When it ended, we collected rubbish and helped to clear the campsite. I was going to take my tent with my to reuse it, but we were told that we could donate them to the refugees in Calais so that’s what we did.“It’s really disappointing that people are misled into thinking they are helping when they are actually creating more waste. I would never have donated my tent if I thought it would just go into a landfill.”A 2015 report by the think tank Powerful Thinking revealed that UK festivals created 23,500 tons of waste and 68 per cent went to landfill or incineration.Despite organisers’ efforts, the average recycling rate of the biggest festivals remained under 50 per cent.Mr Wedge, 25, who was working at the Leeds festival site yesterday (TUES) alongside around 200 volunteers, said one of the biggest problems was that tents were increasingly being sold at knockdown prices and were often advertised as “festival tents,” suggesting they were disposable. He said a culture shift was needed to alter perceptions of acceptable behaviour on a festival site. Festival goers are leaving tens of thousands of tents behind in the mistaken belief they will be donated to the homeless and refugees, a charity has warned.The vast majority of the sea of rubbish abandoned in fields after events such as Reading and Leeds this bank holiday weekend is “avoidable plastic pollution” that will be taken to landfill.Green campaigners said the idea that sleeping bags, tents and chairs would be put to better use was “complete nonsense.”Matt Wedge, director of Festival Waste Reclamation & Distribution, a charity set up to divert usable “waste” towards vulnerable people, said: “There is a common misconception that leaving your tent is like making a donation.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––“It’s simply not the case. We co-ordinate local volunteers and charity groups and take as much as we can for the homeless and refugees in Calais and Dunkirk but realistically, up to 90 per cent gets left behind.”Teresa Moore, director of environmental campaign group A Greener Festival, said her own research indicated that a large proportion of festival goers believed their tents would be given to charity. “It hasn’t really changed in the last seven years,” he added.“Many of the festivals have these green initiatives but the message just isn’t getting through.” Thousands of tents abandoned after the Reading FestivalCredit:Vagner Vidal/INS News Agency Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Volunteers tackle the clean up project after the Reading Festival Volunteers tackle the clean up project after the Reading FestivalCredit:Vagner Vidal/INS News Agency Ltd She said that when one or two festivals had advertised the fact that charities collected abandoned tents, the number left behind shot up. Mr Wedge said some festivals were more receptive to recycling and salvage than others, giving volunteers such as his at least two days to collect as much as they could.Others, often because they need to return the land to its original use, bring in the waste management company almost immediately and the site “just gets bulldozed”.Ms Moore added: “Most people are aware of the environmental impact but it’s just not on their radar, they aren’t thinking about it.”She said various festivals, including Isle of Wight and Download, had successfully trialled initiatives such as having “green fields” for campers who commit to taking their tent and are offered better facilities in return which would slowly be expanded.Emma Priestland, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “There was a time when charities could collect a small amount of left-behind tents and donate them to a good cause, but increasingly tents are flimsily constructed so they become single-use items.“This is large-scale, ugly littering. Awareness of the senseless damage of plastic pollution is higher than it’s ever been, so it’s inexcusable that people don’t recognise abandoned tents for what they are: even more avoidable plastic pollution.”

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