Are Camping Tents Bad For The Environment?

More than 40 million Americans are going to go camping this year, but are they sowing the seeds of destruction for our natural environment?

We wanted to know if camping tents were bad for the environment and this is what we found.

Camping Tents

Tents are not entirely environmentally friendly as they tend to be made, at least in part, using modern plastic materials.

And as most plastics aren’t particularly biodegradable, when a tent comes to the end of its useful life, it will end up taking up space in a landfill. 

And we all know that landfills aren’t a good thing, right?

The Case For Camping Tents


However, this doesn’t need to be a massive problem if people would just behave sensibly when using tents.

If you buy a high-quality tent and use it for camping and then bring it home and clean it, carefully pack it away and carry out maintenance on it as needed? 

Well, then your tent can last as long as you do (or certainly for many, many years). 

A tent isn’t a disposable item for people that are serious about going camping on a regular basis, it’s an investment in a truly mobile home that fits in a backpack. 

The Case Against Tents

in the UK, festival goers dump around 250,000 of these “single use” tents annually!

We recently published an article about how sustainable are music festivals and we talked about the impact on waste on the environment and how many acts are looking to make festivals “greener”.

Do you know what’s not very green about music festivals and we didn’t really touch on that in our recent piece? The new trend of discarding tents once the weekend’s over.

You see most people don’t buy high-quality tents to go to festivals, they buy whatever’s cheapest in their local supermarket or camping store.

These tents aren’t very comfortable and they don’t last long, by the time the third drunken music fan has fallen on it – the sides are ripped and the poles are bent. 

So, people leave them where they are and just abandon them. 

Is this a big problem? Well, yes. 

According to the Independent Newspaper over in the UK, festival goers dump around 250,000 of these “single use” tents annually!

If we were to scale that up globally, that means people are dumping millions of these tents and they’re all going to landfill, each year. 

In fact, they say that 17% of all waste created by festivals is now tent waste. 

Tents that not only do not biodegrade easily in landfill but which may even be leaching toxic chemicals out of the plastic and into the soil and local watercourses.

Worse, many countries are now running out of non-hazardous landfill capacity, and that means they’ll soon be exporting this waste to developing nations to contaminate their soil too. 

Final Thoughts On Tents And The Environment

A tent doesn’t have to be a bad thing for the environment, in fact, regular campers who invest in a nice tent and take care of it, are doing a good thing – a tent has much less of an environmental impact than a hotel room, for example.

However, if you’re going to buy a cheap tent and then dump it in a field? 

Please, think again. There’s no need to do this. 

Thinking about going camping this year?

Why not use this guide to free camping sites

Or if you’re looking for something upmarket try these glamping destinations or even build your own camper van.

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