In 2014, two friends, Jan Portheine and Wout Kommer were studying at university together, taking part in the Cleantech Challenge at the TU Delft where they were required to construct something out of cardboard. Following on from their graduation, with their cardboard construction days behind them, the two came across an aerial shot taken of the British music festival, Glastonbury. Jan and Wout noticed the familiar sight of hundreds of cheap, plastic tents collapsed and deserted by festival goers. Disappointed in what they’d seen, the boys decided to rebirth their old university project, and this time focus their efforts towards making environmentally sustainable cardboard tents that were designed for festivals. They would call this project, ‘KarTent’.
An article by The Sunday Times suggests that as many as 250,000 tents are abandoned in fields across the UK each year. The clean-up effort after Glastonbury reportedly costs around £1m, taking a considerable chunk out of the festivals income, which could otherwise be going to the festivals chosen charities, which includes the likes of Greenpeace, Water Aid and Oxfam.
As soon as you hear about the prospect of tents being made out of cardboard, it is natural to bear some degree of skepticism. And KarTent are quick to acknowledge this skepticism, but they are equally quick to respond with their water-tight product design. KarTent is not made of any magical material, it really is just normal cardboard, with the company reassuring its customers that their product can withstand anything that a normal tent could.
KarTents admits that the most environmentally friendly option would be for people to buy just one tent and use it year on year, but clearly this is not the case. The existence of KarTent is a response to the shortsightedness of festival goers, who see cheap tent prices as an excuse to throw away tents, rather than bothering with the hassle of packing it away. The production of one KarTent is far more environmentally friendly, exhausting just half the CO2 of a regular tent. Also, all of the material of the KarTent can be recycled easily, opposed to a regular tent which can be made out of about 30 different materials.
Over the past four years, and after many design changes, KarTent now operates across festivals in Europe, America and Australia. The companies’ latest venture sees its’ tents being trialled in the UK, with the ambition to have tents in action across all major UK festivals next summer. Although KarTent will not be present across UK festivals this year, their message should still be felt. If you are heading to a festival, leave as little strain on the land as possible by cleaning up after yourself and taking home all of your belongings, including your tent! It is great that companies like KarTent are being innovative and picking up the slack of people that disregard the environment, but there also needs to be a broader, collective effort from the general public to do their bit too.