It’s the cardinal rule for nature lovers and goers everywhere — leave no trace. And now, one woman is helping everyone from hikers to music festival fanatics make good on that principle with her Comp-A-Tent, the world’s first fully compostable temporary shelter.
Designed for “a long weekend of British weather,” this tent decomposes into carbon dioxide, water, and fertile soil after 120 days in a composting facility. And given how many tents are used in fairs and festivals around the world, this biodegradable, environmentally-friendly structure could have a huge impact on our collective carbon footprint.
The brainchild of Amanda Campbell, who was an Architectural Studies student at University College London, these structures were the product of her frustration with the inefficiencies of the current tent situation. Most are simply discarded, clogging landfills with tent poles, plastic, and other environmentally unfriendly pieces and parts.
“Everyone thinks ‘Oh, Oxfam’s here, all those tents will probably go to charity,’” Campbell told Motherboard. “But one year I stayed really late at a festival and saw them all get crumpled down and go to a land fill. It was thousands and thousands. I thought that it was crazy, and that there has to be an alternative.”
Every single one of the materials used in the Comp-A-Tent are is biodegradable, and Campbell aims to address the problem of seeing one in five tents completely abandoned at music festivals. As the product’s website notes, 240,000 tents are sent to landfill or incinerated every single year.
But not with Comp-A-Tent. “The idea is that it’s as near carbon neutral as possible. Things like transport will affect that and, at the moment, the only places that make bio plastics using renewable energy are very, very expensive,” Campbell says. “But in a few years’ time it will be more viable.”
The tents have yet to be tested at large scale events, which will happen for the first time at festivals this summer. Campbell wants to use these scenarios to test the limitations of her product and see what needs to be improved. “I love camping,” she said. “I know what makes a good camping experience. It won’t rival high end tents, but then it’s not meant to be reused.”
Ultimately Campbell notes that these tents could find applications beyond festivals. “I want to create humanitarian shelters and possibly even military tents, as well as looking at other products that are deemed disposable and see if they can be made in a more efficient way,” she said. “I really want to prove that anyone can make a difference if they really try — that environmental issues can be tackled by everyone, not just the government.”