Summer Love-In: ReTent

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today, I am beyond thrilled to bring you a double header by two lovely ladies who I am lucky enough to know in real life: my dear friend Kristen of What Kristen Saw (who has finally joined twitter, yay!) and her equally-talented friend Linsey McIntosh (who is also on twitter, double yay!).

Summer in Scotland is synonymous with, among other things, music festivals. It started with the legendary T in the Park (fun fact: I once DIYed myself a skimpy T-in-the-Park-themed bikini top to wear "when the sun comes out". That is the definition of optimism right there) and in the last few years a whole crop of smaller Scottish festivals has sprung up throughout the short Scottish summer.

But cramming tens of thousands of people into one site for three booze-fuelled days and nights has its inherent downsides, one of which is the desolate landscape of abandoned tents that the festival-goers increasingly leave in their wake. So Linsey, as part of her Master of Design degree from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee, is pioneering a project to reduce the volume of abandoned tents. Kristen, like the great friend that she is, has been helping out as her glamorous assistant and resident photographer.

Here, Linsey tells us a little bit more about her awesome project, accompanied by Kristen's fabulous images (including some hairy ankles. Lovely).

With over two million people attending one of the 670 events staged in the United Kingdom last year, for a lot of people, summer means only one thing – getting down and dirty at a music festival.

For me there is no better feeling than collapsing in a heap (albeit in the mud), completely exhausted with excessive enjoyment after a weekend of escapism dancing like a madwoman to the semi-coherent Paisley ramblings of Paolo Nutini (isn’t that right Kristen?). But as the final guitar chords continue to ring in my ears, that little twang of guilt kicks in. I often look back in horror to witness a sea of satisfied faces parting to reveal a muddy wasteland of crushed plastic cups and abandoned tents coating the once unblemished surroundings – not exactly the idyllic hippy peace and free love experience anticipated.

This feeling of remorse is what spurred me into tackling sustainable music festivals, paying particular attention to the campers' home from home for the weekend – the humble festival tent. With thousands of cheap tents being tossed into landfill after these events, I’ve come to realise that the solution lies not with the design of the tent itself, but with the owner's lack of love for it.

Through my University of Dundee Master of Design project, ReTent, I’m aiming to create a long and lasting relationship between the festival-goer and their temporary home by developing a system where tents are branded with a stamp of attendance (rather like a giant passport); providing a physical memento of their weekend of indulgence, bragging rights and, ultimately, a reason to reuse their tent time and time again.

In order to trial this idea, I headed north a few weeks ago to the beautifully scenic RockNess with my newly-assembled ReTent team in tow. (I hardly had to drag them. The magic words of ‘free festival’ seemed to work pretty well.) Team ReTent included Kirsty's and my mutual buddy, Kristen, whose adept camera skills led to her being appointed official project photographer, to capture the whole process.

Team ReTent! L-R: Craig, Barry, Maria, Fraser, Kristen, Ryan, Linsey, Jon and Mark

While trudging round the campsite in our wellies (pink and flowery for Kristen, black rock chick for me), we set about spraying our ‘ReTent @ RockNess 2011’ stamp of attendance on the tents belonging to the masses of, shall we say, ‘merry’ campers. While doing so, we urged them to reuse their tents (or ‘ReTent’ as we like to call it) after the festival. They were asked to capture the act by taking a snapshot and uploading it to the ReTent Facebook page with £100 worth of music vouchers offered as an incentive to the most impressive ReTent-ing image. This removes the need for campers to buy another tent next year, gives them a guilt-free conscience on the environmental front and means less mess for the organisers to clear up. Everyone’s a winner baby!

To my absolute delight the RockNess festival-goers have started to do this in spectacular fashion, with one camper even ReTent-ing on the green roof of his house! Check it out on the ReTent Facebook page

To ensure that the campers visited the Facebook page in the first instance, we took photos of them posing with their ReTent stamped tents on site, which we then uploaded to the page. This encouraged them to visit the page after RockNess to see if they could spot themselves (rollers and all). This really helped the ReTent project gain momentum once the subsequent festival hangovers had subsided with the help of large gulps of Irn Bru and Alka Seltzer.

Possibly the most glam festival attendees ever?

ReTent at RockNess allowed me to establish that the project is a step in the right direction to giving a welly-booted kick goodbye to the single-use ‘disposable culture’ music festival attitude. The initial success seems to be down to the engaging and fun way the project was carried out and, after all, that’s what music festivals — and summer — are all about. Right?

If you would like to keep up-to-date with the ReTent project please ‘like’ us on Facebook. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Words by Linsey McIntosh (check out her personal Master of Design blog here) and photography by Kristen of What Kristen Saw.

7 boats moored

  1. Great idea! My sister always stays around after festivals have finished to blag herself a better tent than she came with... obviously taking her old tent with her too! x

  2. This is amazing. Such a worthwhile project. Kristen your photos are lovely. My fav is the Re-tent badge on the grass with your toes peaking in.

  3. Hi Esme, glad you like the ReTent project. Yes, we've come across a few people that like to arrive with a one man tent, and then leave with another that resembles a small house! Great someone is getting use out of them, but so shocking that they get left behind in the first place. We hope we can change that.

  4. Ah, thanks Jane. That's my favourite photo of Kristen's too!

  5. I love this idea! It makes me want to go to camping festivals just so I can get my tent stamped.

  6. This idea is officially brilliant!

  7. Hi Made of Sun, maybe if ReTent takes off we'll see you at another festival soon! We hope ReTent will be adopted by all the festivals, because that means more tents covered in stamps, and more tents being re-used. Amy, love your enthusiasm for the project - thank you!


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