How can I reuse or recycle bits of an old tent?

TentWe’ve had an email from Stephanie:

Glastonbury killed my tent! The zip is busted, torn away from the door flap, there is a rip in the ground sheet and everything is encrusted with mud!

But aside from the mud, everything else is ok. I’d love to reuse the sticks and fabric if possible but I don’t know what they can be used for.

I’d be tempted to keep it (or offer it on Freecycle) for spares and repairs of other tents – or making a kite from the cloth.

Any other suggestions though?

(Photo by pixelstar)

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46 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle bits of an old tent?”


  1. Mary says:

    I’m on a tote bag kick! I think tent fabric would make great totes and backpacks–it may be water resistant, depending on the tent. I would encase the seams in bias tape or use a french seam to eliminate raveling. I made huge bags to lug our camp stove, stove stand, and lantern stands in. Used bits of old backpack belting and the clips to close them.

  2. Andy says:

    As a tent you can still use it as a play house or dog shade, or for fishing in the rain!
    As parts you can use the material for bunting, kites as you suggested and the poles for the garden to support growing plants.

  3. Delusion says:

    You could use the fabric as a guard sheet if you were ever decorating

  4. Trish says:

    you could also use it for tools. If you’re needing to work outside and its raining, but you need to keep your tools dry.

  5. SoOreBeer says:

    You could use the fabric for a patio sun shade. We have no shade where I live so when I saw the picture of your tent I instantly imagined looking up and seeing the different hues of color while keeping cool in the shade. So many different usages…. Parts was great, window covering (for camper, etc) canvas for your kids to create works of art, then hang them on the wall or place in from of a window and allow the sun to shine behind.

  6. Sylvie says:

    Hey there,

    Someone asked our organisation (London Community Recycling Network) the same question recently, we thought some of our members like TRAID or Goodone may be interested in getting your old tent to make nice ethical garments out of it. Also pupastudio, one of our latest member who make sustainable interior decor with reused materials maybe interested to use it for future projects.

    Contact details:
    TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development): call 020 8733 2580 and / or: info@traid.org.uk

    Goodone: call 020 898 65 808 and ask for Phoebe. Email address: info@goodone.co.uk

    pupastudio: call 020 7749 1138 and ask for Ciara. Email: info@pupastudio.com

  7. Timmer says:

    Go on the internet and find a pattern to make kites. The light material is perfect for kites, not to mention a heck of alot stronger than those cheap plastic junkie kites! You can even make enough to give to needy kids here or abroad.

  8. hel says:

    If it has a mosquito net that can be cut away and saved to protect from insects in other situations, e.g. put it over the windows at home to keep insects out on summer nights.

  9. renee says:

    We recently gave two away to a couple of local homeless people so they could shelter from the rain.

  10. Meegan says:

    What about if we have tens of thousands of the suckers. (From people that leave them at festivals).

    Have tried everything you can think of and we still get left with mountains. Polyesther, polyethylene, nylon. All can be recycled, but it’s a chemical intensive and energy sapping process.

    No one seems to want to use the fabric. If only I had the time I would sit and make kites, flags, bunting by the mile.

    If you want tent fabric to start such a business please contact me via Festival Republic’s info@ email address!!!

    • Jo says:

      Hi, we are a bunch of folk who are aiming a setting up a festival in rural Bulgaria, I would be delighted to take old tents, tent poles etc for some of our creative projects. I am based in Manchester and am prepared to travel for justifiable treasures.
      Please email me
      Jo
      joskin69@googlemail.com

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi, we have large outwell pop up tent with a snapped pole which is non-repairable. Only used once and lots of lovely fabric, zips, mesh etc. We are about to dumpit (but really don’t want to). We arein Dorset whichis proabably too far for you?

        Kate j_dacombe@sky.com

    • Anonymous says:

      What about giving them to the refugees in Calais? If they don’t need them for sleeping in they could make kites and sell them to make some much needed funds?

  11. Tim Parish says:

    Someone suggested kites – so I’m sure tent material would work well for all the designs on our website. Must admit we actually buy plastic for our kites, since we use large freezer bags for the 1-Skewer designs and large garden bags for the 2-Skewer kites. But by the looks of it, you could almost get one each of all 16 MBK kite designs from that tent! You would need to buy a bag of 100 bamboo skewers as well, to make up the spars. Just a suggestion, it would be a bit labour-intensive!

  12. Bad Monkey says:

    The fabric could be used cut down to make covers for your car windscreen for winter use when its frosty, saves buying cans of de-icer.

  13. MOJOJOJO says:

    cape for kids at holloween

  14. Lizzy says:

    Are they the poles that bend over?
    I’d say freecycle or ebay them… or keep them for spares, after a couple of years, they split or snap, making the tent unusable, and it is incredibly difficult to find ones that fit – so someone’s definitely going to want some :)

    • teena says:

      actually you can buy a repair kit for not much, you just have to have a small hand saw or electric one and follow the instructions and wa-la brand new pole and you don’t have to but a new tent.

  15. rosa james says:

    I have been wondering too how to reuse my old tents for emercency relief, and came across World Emercency Relief. You can take a used tent into a Milletts shop and they will use it, and you can get a discount on a new tent.
    See http://www.wer.uk.org/content/new-lives-old-tents.
    It seems a shame to cut them uo when hundreds of people are homeless. Milletts… here we come!

  16. craig says:

    I could be good as a pond linning.

  17. DAK says:

    What is the material? If it is canvas, it can be gessoed and stretched and used to paint pictures on.

  18. Our tent ‘died’ this year and my husband used the lengths of bendy tent poles to bolster the frame of our 20ft gazebo. By fitting 6 lengths of tent poles into the spaces in between the existing poles on the gazebo he has made the fabric roof much stronger and it now doesn’t sag when it rains heavily.

    Long live recycling ;-)

  19. Kerrie says:

    I think the tent poles will be brilliant for use on allotments to make poly tunnels etc. Will be looking for some my self soon.

  20. lizzie dripping says:

    we’ve got great ideas for tent recycling :-D

  21. Roy says:

    I have cleared out all the festival tents from a manufacturer that has close its doors for good, these tents are all identical two man tents, all complete in their bags, all with instructions etc, a few have rubber mallets, some have lights, all pegs and guy lines, all with mosquito net and groundsheet, all fully zipped, all come with full set of poles, but the pole connector is the only item missing, must surely be worth £1 each

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