It's estimated that one in six tents brought into a festival site are left behind once the music ends. That is, if they're not just slung onto a bonfire, a dangerous ritual on the Sunday night that's been clamped down on of late.
Sadly, many of the kids that go to gatherings like Reading view the tent that has been their home for a weekend as simply disposable, causing something of a logistical nightmare for the volunteers that clean up after them. To say nothing of the impact on landfill.
An immediate fix for the problem isn't easily obtainable, although recycle bins for unwanted tents have made a dent in the pile up. But there are people looking into the problem. Students at Nottingham Trent University (who have something of a rep in the sustainable fashion game) made a point last year of seeing what could be done with festival waste.
Using tarps, tents and sleeping bags left over from last year's Secret Garden Party, students studying for a degree in fashion broke down and reformed the unwanted gear into a brand new product: a dress. This is a proof of concept, but of nothing else it shows that something can be done with that discount tent once you've done stinking up the inside with the debauchery and the days without showering.
There's some good PR to be had here as well. If festival-goers can see that there's a future for that knackered old sleeping bag, then they're that more likely to donate it, rather than simply leave it in a field. Make it a cool, attractive thing to do and they'll be queueing at the recycle bins.
If you're off to Reading or Leeds this weekend, have a great time, and be nice to the stewards. They're wearing t-shirts supplied by Pier32, you know!