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Discarded tents remain a big issue at Reading and Leeds Festivals

By | Published on Wednesday 30 August 2023

They’re everywhere, just getting in the way, cluttering up the place. That’s right we’re talking about aerial photographs of discarded tents on the Reading Festival site. It’s now an annual tradition for such photos to go viral, a tradition that is both comforting and depressing.

Images shared on TikTok by drone photography company Big Ladder shows hundreds of discarded tents and other waste across the campsites from last weekend’s festival, despite efforts to convince ticket holders to leave the fields clear when they depart.

Although, while the event is clearly not having the level success some other festivals have achieved in terms of persuading attendees to take their waste away with them, after years of looking at these images, it is clear that there is some improvement.

Organisers have encouraged festival-goers to take their tents away with them in recent years, which last year resulted in a 21% decrease in the number left behind. And from this year’s images it looks like there has been a further reduction. Although, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a fuck load of tents left on the festival’s site.

While it would be preferable for everyone to take their tents away with them, a spokesperson for Reading Festival says that what is left behind does not simply go to landfill.

“We coordinate a salvage operation after the festival”, they explain, from which organisations can “collect some of the perfectly reusable camping equipment that is left behind”, thus reducing the total amount of waste that has to be dealt with.

So that’s good, I guess. And at least things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction each year. Although we shouldn’t forget that Reading Festival has a twin up in Leeds, where this is also an issue. In fact, one volunteer who arrived at the Leeds site to help with the clear up operation there this year tweeted that they found “littering on the grandest scale we’ve ever witnessed”.