The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has launched a Say No To Single Use campaign urging festivalgoers to take their tents home.

Organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK have issued a call to retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling “festival tents” as single-use items, which result in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every year.

The new campaign includes an animated educational video that will be displayed across social media for all participating festivals, as well as assets being displayed on screens and at entrances to festival campsites throughout the 2019 season.

Each year, an estimated 250,000 tents are left at music festivals across the UK. Most aren’t collected by charities and can’t be recycled, meaning the vast majority end up in landfill. The average tent weighs 3.5kg and is mostly made of plastic – the equivalent of 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups.

Research by Comp-A-Tent, which has been researching festival waste and testing solutions since 2015, suggests that as many as 36 per cent of tents left at festivals are bought from either Argos or Tesco.

AIF’s ten-year report, published in 2018, revealed that 9.7 per cent of people attending its member events had ditched a tent during that year’s festival season, equating to an estimated 875 tonnes of plastic waste – the equivalent of 70 Routemaster buses or eight blue whales.

Paul Reed, CEO of AIF, commented: “We call upon major retailers to stop marketing and selling tents and other camping items as essentially single-use, and profiting from disposable culture. AIF launches this campaign to raise awareness and highlight abandoned tents as part of the single-use plastics problem.

“The message here is not to buy a more expensive tent – with a single tent carrying the same amount of plastic as more than 8,700 plastic straws, festival audiences can take positive action and reduce their carbon footprint simply by taking their tent home and reusing it, ensuring that it doesn’t become a single-use item this summer.”

Chris Johnson, cofounder and director of Shambala Festival, added: “We’re finally waking up to the climate crisis en masse. The stuff we use is part of the problem – everything has an impact, usually hidden from the user. As festivals, we can work with audiences to inspire better decisions, reduce single use and waste, and minimise ecological damage at this critical moment in history.”