Festival tent hire service outstanding in its field

By Phil Crawford

A new business venture is pitching in to reduce the number of tents that end up in landfill after festivals and events around Aotearoa.

Organisers of the annual Rhythm and Vines camping and music festival, held just outside Gisborne in late December, have been dismayed by the number of single-use tents and camping gear left behind as rubbish in recent years and are doing something about it.

This year they’ve launched Bookatent so festival goers can hire a two, three or four-person quality nylon tent when they buy their tickets. On average, that adds about $35 to the price of the three-day pass plus camping. Camping gear like mattresses and chairs can be hired separately.

Marketing Director Kyle Bell says used camping gear has made up a large majority of waste left behind after recent festivals.

“You can buy a tent for only $20 these days so people treat it like it’s disposable without thinking about the long-term impacts on the environment,” says Kyle.

“Our goal is to provide a solution that eliminates or reduces the number of single-use tents ending up in landfill after events. We’re aiming to put a focus on sustainability and change behaviour.”

Tent hire has been on offer at Rhythm and Vines before but this is the first time it has been done at scale. In the past there have been up to 300 glamping, tepee or premium canvas tents for hire. This year another 900 affordable tents will be set up on site at Meadow Camp before festival-goers start arriving. The Bookatent village will be used by about 2,000 people out of an expected camping crowd of 15,000.

“It’s a much better proposition than bringing your own tent or your parents’ expensive tent,” says Kyle.

“You don’t have to lug it in and you don’t have to set it up or pack down. We set it up for you so it’s ready when you arrive and we take it down after you leave. We think Bookatent has a big future.”

After the festival the tents are cleaned and stored so they can be used again. Kyle says there are plans for Bookatent to operate at other festivals and events, including Soundsplash and Splore in 2021.

“Single-use tents are by far the biggest problem with festival sustainability at the moment. It’s a global issue. It’s not just New Zealand but it would be good for us Kiwis to lead the way.”

He says Bookatent is also looking at what happens to its tents when they reach the end of life.

“We’re looking to collaborate with other businesses that may have solutions for extending the life of camping products by reusing or recycling the materials. We’re also keen to see if there are other materials we could be using that are more sustainable.”

Bookatent has joined more than 60 businesses in Aotearoa that have introduced product stewardship initiatives to reduce waste and save valuable materials. Learn more.

SBN can provide free advice on introducing product stewardship into your business. Already have an initiative underway? We can help you take it to the next level. Contact james@sustainable.org.nz