How To Re-Use and Recycle Old Tents

If you have a perfectly good tent but don't think you will use it often enough or don't have the space to store it then of course you should simply sell or give your tent away on-line – there will almost certainly be someone who will want it. Tents are not disposable items but should be taken care of, repaired when necessary and used to provide shelter for your camping trips for many years to come. Re-use tents as often as possible for the purpose for which they are intended – or let someone else do so. If a tent is still serviceable, it can also be donated and can be used by disaster relief charities.

But at the end of the day, there will always be the point at which a tent is damaged beyond repair and cannot be used any more. The problem is that the composite materials in a tent are not easily recycled, so what can we do to give the fabric, poles and other components of our old tent a new lease of life, rather than contributing to landfill?

Here are some ways to 'up-cycle' tent components to make new useful items:

  • Use tent poles and guy lines in the garden as support for plants and vertical garden structures.
  • Use dome or tunnel tent poles to make an arch for plants to climb over.
  • Make a garden den for kids.
  • Use poles and fabric to make a shade for your patio or outside area.
  • Use clear windows to make a cloche or mini-tunnel to cover tender plants.
  • Make double skinned fabric sacks for use as planters.
  • Make kites with fabric and guy lines.
  • Make sturdy tote bags and shopping bags.
  • Make a simple backpack.
  • Make a waterproof poncho.
  • Create waterproof wallets or pencil cases.
  • Use the groundsheet for protecting floors when creating art or for messy play.
  • Use the groundsheet to make a picnic seating area.
  • Use the groundsheet for dogs to lie on or when house-training a puppy.
  • Make a waterproof table protector from the fabric.
  • Make a bib for a baby.
  • Reuse insect mesh to keep out insects in your home.
  • Use mesh to strain jellies or compotes.
  • Make storage sacks from the fabric.
  • Use fabric to make a car windscreen cover for icy weather.
  • Use guy lines to secure items to your car roof rack.
  • Make a hammock.
  • Make bean bags.
  • Make an outdoors cushion or knee protector.
  • Create a piece of art.

Of course you can always set aside sections of an old tent to patch another one or for spares and repairs, but there is no excuse for sending the whole of an old tent to landfill when there is so much else that you can do with it without needing many sewing skills or making skills at all. With little time and little effort, your old tent can have a whole range of new lives as different useful items.