What To Do With Old Tents – A Complete Guide

Old Tent

Last Updated on September 8, 2021

Do you enjoy the great outdoors?

If yes, then you’re probably aware of camping’s therapeutic advantages.

When you escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and escape into nature, you experience inspiring and breathtaking wonders. Not to mention, it kicks your survival instincts into gear, so you self-reflect and learn new skills at the same time.

You learn to appreciate nature and observe little details that make life worth living. More importantly, it may instill a drive to change your lifestyle to preserve nature.

If you are environmentally conscious, you’re probably aware of the importance of reusing, reducing, and recycling.

Shockingly, about 75% of the waste that the United States produces is recyclable. But how much do we actually recover?

The total waste stream we reuse is 30%, which is not enough to reduce human effects on planet earth. Sounds distressing, doesn’t it? Similar to camping, reprocessing your trash is also a fun and exciting activity. Plus, when you take responsibility for reutilizing your unused items, you feel good about yourself.

Do you want to do your part and save the earth from pollution?

How about looking at what you have left in storage and recycle outdoor gear you no longer use.

You should start by recycling old tents or reuse tents during a camping trip. But you’re probably wondering how to recycle old tents? In this article, we’ll show you some effective techniques for converting your old tent into something useful.

Components of an Outdoor Tent

Before learning about what to do with old tents, it is essential to know what materials you get when you dismantle a camping tent. Keep in mind that reprocessing old tents requires quite an effort. Even if you hand it over to a recycling center, they will only extract specific materials and throw the rest in the junk.

To get the most out of your camping gear, you should break apart all the segments and reutilize them separately. Go through these common parts of a tent:

  • Metal Tent Stakes hold your lightweight camping tents during windy conditions. You can easily pin these pegs in dirt, grass, and terrain. Using pliers, you can straighten out the stakes to repurpose them. They’re great to support your plants during the growing phase for example.
  • Tent footprints add an extra layer between the bottom of the tent and the ground. You can use it as a windscreen cover to maintain the temperature in your car.
  • A Tent Fly is the outermost layer of your tent that doesn’t include walls. The purpose of tent fly is to protect your tent from the elements. That means weather conditions such as snow, rain, and wind. Since its purpose requires a durable construction, you can use it in plenty of projects. For instance, you can create ponchos, storage sacks, or a traveling bag pack.

You Might Also be Interested in Reading: Best Waterproof Rain Ponchos

  • Tent poles are sturdy and hardened metal or plastic that work great for making a kite. Thanks to their durable construction, they prevent the kite from tearing apart.

What to Do with Old Tents

For families and adventure enthusiasts who go camping often, purchasing new tents and throwing away old ones is common. Here are some reasons to recycle outdoor gear:

  • Most of your tent is made using organic material. These materials are biodegradable and decompose in the landfill through anaerobic digestion. This process breaks down the organic material and emits dangerous greenhouse gases. Therefore, failing to recycle outdoor gear will accelerate climate change.
  • Creating new tents requires significant energy. As they contain different materials and have a complex manufacturing process, they require an extraordinary amount of resources such as water and electricity. So, if you are wondering what you should do with old tents, the best answer is to repurpose them.

Here are a few ways you can repurpose old tents:

1. Protect Your New Tent with Tarps

yellow tent with protective cover

Are you buying a new tent for this camping season? You can use your old tent to protect the new one. Wondering how? A tent tarp works as a sort of secondary roof for your tent.

Make sure that it is bigger than your new tent. It shelters your camp from heavy rain and snow. Also, when the sun is out, you can rest in your tent peacefully using the old tent as shade.

In this video, you can learn how to install a tarp to protect your tent from rain and other external threats.

2. Handing It Over to Charity

Tents aren’t disposable items; you can repair and reuse them multiple times. If you do not feel like repairing and reusing your old tents, you can give them to someone else. Donating your tent to those in need is a great way to give back to society and preventing further pollution.

You can donate your tents through various channels. Your options range from approaching individuals to handing it over to charity shops. If your tent is still serviceable, you can also donate it to disaster relief charities. Another way to connect with people who may need an old tent is through homelessness support groups. For other options, read more about how you can donate to charities in the United States.

If the tent is not functional, there is no point in handing it over to a charity.

Many people ask if they can drop their old tents in the collection bins they find outside the supermarket and superstores. While there’s nothing wrong with placing your tent in the bins, you need to make sure you put materials in their corresponding container.

Before tossing your tent, dismantle the components and separate different materials. You can contact the recycling center or take the tent to their office to determine which of its materials are reusable.

3. Recycling Centers Can Help

recycle tent

If the tent is not functional, there is no point in handing it over to a charity. Many people ask if they can drop their old tents in the collection bins they find outside the supermarket and superstores. While there’s nothing wrong with placing your tent in the bins, you need to make sure you put materials in their corresponding container. Before tossing your tent, dismantle the components and separate different materials. You can contact the recycling center or take the tent to their office to determine which of its materials are reusable.

4. Gift Your Tent to a Friend

If you enjoy camping and want your friends to get a taste of adventure as well, how about giving them a boost?

Considering how expensive camping gear can be, they may be looking for budget-friendly outdoor gear. In that case, you can help them out by offering your old tent as a gift.

This way, you can help them save money on an otherwise costly tent. But before handing it over, make sure that the tent is functional.

5. Make Costume for Halloween

Do you feel like doing something creative with your old tent? How about turning it into a costume?

The fabric from a tent is great to prepare a last-minute ghost costume, but you can also use it in other colors to create something more elaborate.

6. Create a Fun Kids Play Tent in the Yard

play tent

For about $20, you can purchase a tiny tent for your kids. Paying so much for a few hours of fun in the backyard is not such a good idea, especially when you already have a tent to repurpose.

Just grab some sewing tools to make kids-sized camping gear for your children or use the tent as is. It’s a great way to acclimatize your kids to different equipment they may use when they go on camping trips themselves.

And according to the Harvard Health Blog, your children should definitely be playing outside more. Not to mention, your repurposed tents also work as practice gear that you can teach them different techniques on.

7. DIY Projects are Always Fun

If nothing else, you can dismantle your tent into its different parts so your kids can use them for crafts. Using DIY tutorials, you can make wallets, kites, flags, umbrellas, and much more.

What is the Right Time to Replace Your Old Tent with a New One?

If you want to have a good experience camping, you should know the right time to buy new outdoor gear. Here are some signs that indicate your tent is no longer functional:

  • The fabric has started fading and is now worn out. This is a clear sign that you need to change the gear.
  • You need more time and effort to install the tent.
  • Your tent has numerous patches that you used to cover the walls.
  • The tent is too small for your family
  • Your tent has mildew

Conclusion

There are many benefits of reprocessing your tent. It is a cost-effective, eco-friendly, and charitable activity. The process of reconstructing outdoor equipment and bringing it to good use is challenging but still fun. You should start by tearing down camping materials and separating the ones you can reuse from the rest.

For instance, you can use metal tent stakes for plenty of projects, but polyester is difficult or even impossible to repurpose. Here is a quick recap:

  • Use components such as footprints, stakes, and fly for different repurposing projects.
  • Make tarps, screen shields, costumes, and other interesting objects from waste.
  • Donate your old tent to charities.
  • Distinguish the materials you want to recover from what you want to get rid of. Visit the recycling center to understand what materials they accept for recycling.

Now that you’re aware of how to recycle old tents, you can use the above techniques or improvise to come up with your own repurposing strategy. The goal for repurposing tents is to reduce your carbon footprint and prevent your old tent from ending up in the landfill.

About the author

DopeOutdoors

We are a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts who love to share and inspire people through our stories, comprehensive guides and in-depth gear reviews.

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