6 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Glow Sticks

Article by: Graham Berry|@Festival_Writer

Fri July 13, 2018 | 14:00 PM

We’ve all been there. Lights are painting the crowd in a kaleidoscope of colors, and the thunder of bass is giving your feet a life of their own. Then, from a distant corner of audience, about three hundred illuminated plastic glow sticks come sailing through the air, smacking you in the face with an aerial barrage of neon uselessness. 

While handy if you’re looking to find a friend in the dark, these little glow sticks are made of acutely hazardous chemicals, encased in glass, and wrapped in plastic. Talk about a triple whammy of environmental unfriendliness. In fact, the incandescent confetti that was just carelessly tossed into the air will spend upwards of forever in a landfill somewhere. What's more, is that picking these up can add to the already high cost of waste disposal event organizers have to manage.

It’s true that glow sticks have brought light and life to festivals for decades, but as we consider the environmental costs of their ongoing use, it looks like keeping them around isn't a bright idea. Here are six eco-friendly alternatives to glow sticks that will light up your festival night.

Glow-in-the-Dark Accessories and Illuminated Clothes

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Photo by: Galen Oakes

If wearing your glow is more your style, try light-up earrings or a necklace to fest up your fashion. These are especially fun at stages where there are black lights. For those who really want to make their fashion festive, check out sites like iheartraves.com or festivalfashion.com for everything from illuminated leg warmers to fur coats that glow, and other assorted light-up clothes that are as warm as the hugs you’ll get from strangers passing by.

Mini Flashlights and Headlamps

If simply being able to see is the goal, grab a mini flashlight or a headlamp for a hands-free solution. These tools lack the colorful luminescence found in glow sticks but they do the job much better and can be powered by rechargeable batteries so that no trash is produced.

The Glow Watch

Nothing says festival bling like a watch that has its own internal light show. Some of these can get expensive, but they're functional devices that tell time (and keep your cellphone out of your hands), as well as glow in the dark. More and more, companies like Glow Motion Technologies and Crowd Sync Technology have added RFID chips to enhance these devices for festival use. The growing festival trend has seen RFID chips evolve to not only add synchronized lighting to wrists at every stage, but also provide festival-goers with options like cashless payments, friend-finding features, or ways to engage with social media.

LED Gloves

A symbol in the community and a great way to get the crowd around you pumped, LED gloves are an amazing alternative to glow sticks with none of the environmental drawbacks. Plus, they make you feel like a sorcerer.

Illuminated Poi or other Flow Toys

For those who practice the ritualized therapy known as flow arts, we highly recommend lighting up sets of poi, staffs, fans, or hula hoops with LEDs. There are two reasons to favor glowing flow tools over glow sticks. First, flow tools stay lit much monger, which means more dancing. Second, other flow arts ninjas will see them and instantly come up to say hello. They're definitely a cool way to make friends at a festival.

Lumens from LumiLor

LumiLor , from the folks at Darkside Scientific, can literally run an electric current through special paint to light it up like a bulb. The effects are incredible – just check out the above video. The technology is new to festivals and is mostly being applied to vehicles right now, but it could potentially be used on any surface like a Deadmau5 head or samurai outfit. While expensive, LumiLor is an awesome option for the more experimental festies out there.

This article was originally published in September 2015.