What else can you do with compostable fabric?

If you've ever been to a music festival that spans multiple days, you’re probably familiar with the aftermath of a festival camping. In the morning after the final show, the tired and hungover people are in a hurry to leave the site as soon and effortless as possible, leaving camping gear in the process. At large European festivals thousands of tents are left behind, resulting in mountains of plastic waste.

This recurring problem of abandoned plastic tents at festivals irked festivalgoers Amanda and Molkie and moved them to design a biodegradable tent. Molkie also took on this sustainable challenge inspired by his younger nieces, wanting to make their future life as bright a possible. Amanda wants to prove that small businesses can be both economically and ecologically viable and to inspire others to actually make the changes they want to make in our world.

The British duo and their team will continue to improve their ideas and prototypes during DORP, getting ready for actual people to interact with their compostable tents during the Welcome to the Village festival.

Learn more about the 
Comp-A-Tent in this video

Amanda tells about their tent

After the team got to know each other on day one, the second day is all about formulating these challenges and finding ways to overcome them. After hours of thorough brainstorm sessions, the team summarizes the whole scope of their project on a cardboard canvas and presents it to the other villagers of DORP. 

At this event, the carrousel, an exchange of knowledge, network and experience takes place to solve problems teams might face. The carrousel is a good way for the team to move forward, as their two main challenges at the moment are the lack of some specific skills within their group. First, there's a need for a designer who can digitally sketch the plans for a new tent design and second, the need for people who can help with the marketing of the tents. 

Due to the collaboration in the carrousel these problems are met with quick solutions when an industrial designer joins their team and some insightful discussions about marketing arise. The cooperation with the other villagers helps the team getting closer achieving the two main goals they have set for their time at DORP: to test a new prototype of the tent with two layers of bioplastic instead of one and to find out how their compostable tent can be marketed in the best way possible.

Moving on with marketing

The marketing of the Comp-A- Tent remains an important aspect of their project. The many abandoned tents at festival sites aren't left behind by people who could be categorized as environmental thinkers, as waste conscious people tend to take all of their stuff back home. Marketing wise, this means that the sustainable solution of the Comp-A- Tent has to be marketed to people who aren’t familiar with the sustainable mindset. 

Different people, different needs

Using only cardboard and post-its, an entire new business plan is made

The team has categorized different kinds of festivalgoers and thought of ways to create a product that would speak to all of them. Important characteristics of the tent, next to the obvious eco- friendliness, should be an affordable price, a cool design and an effortless experience.

The team still has some wiggle room in the design of the tent, as new tents will be made in Scotland this very week. Because of that, the focus at DORP at the moment is on the new prototype. The tent has to be comfortable and spacious. Ways to customize the outside of the tent are being researched as well, as the printing of artwork, logo's and names on the tent can really speak to people who want to have either a unique tent or matching tents for that communal feeling, typical to festivals.

Later that week

Sometimes a breakthrough means moving away from the original path. That seems to be the case with this team as well. After days of brainstorming and talking with the coaches of DORP, a lot of inspiration and interesting insights have led the team to think of new ways to design, market and use their product. Initially not achieving the set goal felt a little frustrating, but now the new opportunities to really make an outstanding product is noticeable within the group. 

There are now three main concepts the team has formulated in making a better business plan and product. First of all, they are moving from a product for consumers to a business-to-business product, as they think that working with festivals themselves is the first step towards lowering the waste of abandoned tents. 

They will also try to look for materials that can be reused instead of a product that is made to be thrown away. Finally, they will make easy and effortless use of the tents one of the primary criteria of their new design, as more lazy people are the ones abandoning all the tents in the first place. 

During the festival Comp-A- Tent will have a little spot at DORP where they want to engage with festivalgoers and festival owners to discuss their new ideas and to optimize a new design. Although that's not wat they were planning on doing here, their new setup can lead to a new product that can hopefully make a big impact reducing waste at future festivals.

New ideas at the festival

Just before the festival starts, Amanda returns from Scotland with a new tent prototype. The new design is made from the same biodegradable plastic, but uses a lot less material than the previous design. It also has some re-usable parts, instead of being solely made of the degradable material. 

The new tent is pitched right beside the old one and the team claims a small spot on the grass of DORP to showcase their project during Welcome to the Village. 

Although they use their time at the festival to engage with people who are interested in their tents, the Comp-A- Tent group keeps talking with each other about the possibilities of future designs and business plans. The festival is not an end stage of the project, but rather an extra couple of days to turn the discussions and inspiration of last week into concrete ideas to move forward. 

The team, that got really close during their time at DORP, is certain they can distill all the new ideas they've got into a project that will rid festivals of a big chunk of plastic waste. Amanda and Molkie will return to the UK with new perspectives on their ideas and with new challenges to overcome.

Story by Bram Hensen