If you are an avid camper, your tent must have seen you through some glorious times in the great outdoors: that night when you first saw the Northern Lights, your epic hike along the Appalachian Trail, and all of those cozy nights by the campfire.
But what if you have a tent worn out from all your camping adventures? Could you justify dumping it in a landfill? Or give it a new purpose by recycling it?
If you consider the latter approach and are eager to learn how to recycle a tent, we have some great ideas to help you on your way.
Whether you have one that isn’t usable anymore or need ideas for your other camping supplies, this blog post is sure to help.
Recycling The Tent Material
#1. Use It As A Ground Cloth For Your New Tent
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors while keeping your tent clean, use your old tent as a ground cloth.
Simply lay it out on the ground before pitching your new tent. This creates an extra layer between the ground and floor of your new tent, and it’s easily washable if anything gets spilled on it.
#2. Create A Playhouse
Use poles from an old tent to construct a teepee-style playhouse for kids in your backyard.
They’ll love the enclosed space, especially if you decorate it with their favorite colors or add chalkboard paint inside so they can draw on the walls.
This is a great way to use parts of an old tent that would otherwise be difficult to recycle and teach kids about using recycled materials and reducing waste.
#3. Create A Shed For Your Plants
One of the most popular ways to repurpose old tents is to use them as a plant shed for your garden.
You can install a frame on top of your tent and waterproof the inside of it with plastic sheets.
This will ensure that your plants get enough shade and protection from the rain. You can also add a roof on top of the frame if you want extra protection for your plants.
#4. Turn It Into A Dog House
If your pup gets cold in the winter or hot in the summer, they may appreciate an insulated doghouse.
Your old tent can be perfect for this kind of project and is likely large enough, too. And with a little bit of paint and finishing touches, you might even convince yourself that it’s worth decorating!
Just be sure that the flooring can support your pet’s weight, and check for any potentially dangerous edges or points of entry too small for your dog’s head to fit through.
#5. Use It As A Patio Cover
A tent is basically like an awning, so why not use it as one? Cut the tent into strips and tie them to your patio or deck.
This will give you extra shade and protection from the sun during the summer months.
#6. Use It As A Windbreak
If you’re at the beach or on an exposed hillside, use your old tent as a windbreak to protect yourself from the elements.
This gives you extra privacy if you want to change clothes or just get out of the sun for a while.
#7. Recycle A Tent Into A Backpack
An old tent may not have enough waterproofing left to keep you dry in the rain, but it’s still plenty tough and can be used to make one or more backpacks or bags.
All you need is a pair of scissors and some time to cut up the tent and sew it into whatever kind of bag you want.
#8. Create A Hammock
You can turn an old tent into a hammock by using the same process for making a backpack.
Just cut off the bottom and create straps from the tent poles. Hang your new hammock between two trees for a relaxing afternoon in your backyard or at your campsite.
#9. Make A Kite
Yes, your tent material can make great kites to bring the party to the skies!
For this, you’ll need two pieces of fabric, so try using different colors or patterns for each side. Cut them into the desired shape and sew three sides together.
Leave a small opening at the bottom of one end for adding weights and attach some string to the other end.
Use wire from an old clothes hanger in between both pieces of fabric at the top so you can hang them from the string.
#10. Create Some Reusable Shopping Bags
Reusable shopping bags are a popular way to go green, but they’re usually made of nylon or plastic.
Why not make your own out of an old tent? It’s easy to cut up an old tent and sew the fabric into reusable bags that you can use when you’re shopping.
You can even add handles with some of the webbings from the tent if you want.
#11. Make An Art Smock
If you’re an artist or want to encourage your children’s creative sides, this is a great way to keep paint off clothing.
Cut off the zippers, seams, and any mesh parts of the tent; cut around the neck hole to make it larger; turn inside out and sew down the edges for a neat finish.
Recycling Tent Stakes And Poles
#1. Reuse The Poles As Clotheslines
You can make a retractable clothesline out of one of these poles by wrapping a length of solid twine around it, tying it off with a knot, and then securing it in place with duct tape (so that it doesn’t slip).
You can then hang your laundry on the line and let it dry in the sun after pulling out as many lines as you need.
#2. Use The Poles As Gate Or Fence Hardware
You can make a simple latch using several old tent poles, two or three stakes, and some rope.
Make holes through each of the tent poles (using a drill), string the rope through each pole, and tie a knot at one end of each piece of rope.
Then tie the other end of each piece of rope to one stake, then use another stake to form the latch near where all of the stakes meet on the bottom half of your gate or fence.
#3. Repurpose The Stakes As Plant Markers
If you have a garden, you can use the stakes to indicate where your plants are.
Simply write the names of your plants on them using a permanent marker, and stick them in your garden to quickly identify what plants are growing where.
#4. Make A Tripod Stand
One way to use broken tent poles is by making them into tripods for cameras or other devices that require stability.
Begin with cutting down the poles so they’re the same length, then tie three together at one end using strong twine or wire.
Once the ends are tied together securely, arrange them into a tripod shape and place heavy rocks inside the legs to hold them in place.
For a more stable camera tripod, you may purchase an inexpensive threaded ball mount used for mounting cameras on top of tripods at an electronics store.
#5. Use A Stake As A Dolly
Another excellent use for stakes is to use them as a dolly. If you have a great shot but need the camera to move, you can use a stake as the dolly track.
They work best if they are placed in the ground but can also be used on a flat surface, though they may not slide as well.
#6. Make A Key Rack
The bent ends of your tent stakes make for great key hangers, and a long pole holding an array of them can create a unique key rack.
Start this project by cutting the poles into manageable lengths and gluing them together or using a drill to create holes for screws, rivets, and the stakes.
Mount them on an old piece of wood or painted canvas, or hang them in your mudroom.
You can use them to store keys as well as lanyards, earbuds, flashlights, and other gear you need when you’re heading out the door.
#7. Create Artworks
Creating artwork out of recycled tent poles and stakes can be a great way to express your creativity.
You can cut the poles and tie them together with a few stakes to make a wind chime.
Creating a unique fence border is also possible by stringing multiple stakes and pegs together. And if you think outside the box, you can even hang some distinct poles and stake-made patterns from a wall.
Recycling Tent Ropes And Guy Lines
#1. Turn Ropes Into Rugs
You can make a rug from the rope that runs along the edge of your tent.
To do this, wind two ropes around each other, then tie them in even rows on a piece of cardboard. You can hang the rug on a wall or let it hang loosely from a rod.
#2. Make Cat Toys
You can use your old tent guy lines to make a new toy for your pet cat, one that will definitely keep them occupied for hours on end.
All you need to do is tie together multiple pieces of guy line rope into one long rope and then tie a bunch of knots in it so that each knot looks like a small ball.
Make sure that each knot is spaced apart equally so that it won’t tangle up easily. Make a few balls and hang them on your cat tree or scratching post using a piece of string or rope.
#3. Use Guy Lines As Handles For Purses Or Bags
If you have a purse with a detached handle, you can replace it with a guy line instead of buying leather ones from a craft store.
Simply tie some handles to your bag, then sew on buttons so that you can attach the straps to your purse once you’re finished using it!
Make sure not to tie too tight of knots, or it will be difficult to remove them from your bag.
#4. Make A Rope Ladder
Tent ropes and guy lines are usually nylon-made, with which you can make a reliable rope ladder.
You can do it by tying knots in the length of the rope, leaving a gap between each knot that is slightly larger than the diameter of the rope.
The ladder’s rungs will be formed by the knots and the space between them. If you want to make this project safer, you can use rectangular pieces of wood as rungs instead of knots.
#5. Make Bracelets
You can make really cool bracelets, necklaces, and anklets with the rope. To make a bracelet, you need to find a way to close the rope in a loop.
For example, you can simply tie it into a knot or sew the two ends together using a needle and thread.
To finish it off, you can use heat shrink tubing (I had some at home) to cover up the area where you made the knot or sewed the rope together.
Consider Giving It Away
Lastly, if you can’t think of any use for your old tent, why not give it away while it’s still usable? You can donate it to anyone who may find it helpful.
You can consider posting on social media, checking out Craigslist, Freecycle, and local forums, and asking around—you might be surprised by how many people are interested in taking an old shelter from your hands.
If you live in a region with harsh winters, people will likely be happy to get their hands on an extra tent.
When all else fails, if you live in a big city, try contacting an organization like Project Homeless Connect or Partners in Housing that could put your used equipment to good use.
It’s like getting a tax write-off—except everyone wins!
Recycling is all about being creative, and in the end, you want to create something of use from a material that otherwise would’ve sat in your attic.
This is really what the whole green life is all about; using the most out of our resources and trying not to overwhelm the environment.
While there are numerous other ways, now that you have some ideas on how to recycle a tent, what will you do with your old one?
Whatever you do, just try not to leave them in a landfill – help save our planet and find another use for that old tent!