No glow sticks, no glitter: Sask's eco-friendly music festival asking you to leave it at home this year

Glow sticks have long been a staple at the Ness Creek Music Festival, but organizers are asking people to get their glow on in different ways this year.

Request part of green initiatives, says organizer

Festival-goers are being asked to find alternatives to glowsticks for the first time this year. (Nathan Jones/Ness Creek Music Festival/Facebook)

Glow sticks have long been a staple at the Ness Creek Music Festival, but organizers are asking people to get their glow on in different ways this year.

While there is no outright ban, the festival is "strongly encouraging" people away from using glow sticks after the festival's waste audit found that glow sticks and the small connectors that go with them were among the most common items left behind at the end of the three-day festival, which takes place at a site about 240 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Glow sticks have been added to the list of "no's" on Ness Creek's website, joining glass bottles, drones, pets and fireworks.

This follows in the footsteps of other festivals, like Coachella, that have banned glow sticks, said festival spokeswoman Paige Unruh.

"We're moving towards not having them allowed. We just hope that people will police each other... encourage each other, to not use them and leave them at home," she said.

Traditional glitter is also a no-no because it does not degrade and will stay wherever it lands at the festival site, but it wasn't added to the list because there are biodegradable options that people can purchase, Unruh said.

"I don't know how you stop people from using glitter," she said.

Some are lamenting the end of glowsticks while others are welcoming it. (Ness Creek Music Festival/Facebook)

"It's a tent city in the forest, 3,500 people and it's a big community right. And so I think what we're going to be relying on is for Ness Creek-goers to really encourage each other to take these steps in the right direction or you know, to lessen our impact on the environment."

As a substitute to glow sticks, a glow paint station will be set up at the festival site for people to use. Some festival-goers are also planning to wear reusable alternatives called electroluminescent wire that run on AAA batteries.

Disappointment expected

The move to end glow stick use has been met online with enthusiasm by some, but also resistance from people who call glow sticks an integral part of the festival.

Unruh said organizers knew before they made the glow stick decision that people wouldn't be happy to see them go.

"Once the sun goes down, it's dark. The only light you're gonna find is in our downtown sites and then if there's campfires or whatnot. So glow sticks do have quite a pretty large part in Ness Creek's sort of landscape as far as the festival goes," she said.

"It just really fits with what our views are and what we really should be doing to have a better impact on the site."

Other initiatives the festival has taken in recent years is to ban bottled water sales on site and ask all vendors to only use compostable cutlery, plates and cups.

Amidst complaints that people have already purchased glow sticks for this year, Unruh did acknowledge it was a misstep to only post the notice about having no glow sticks to Facebook just last week.

The intent had been to post it soon before the July 19-22 festival to keep it top of mind, and other notices on the website and in the guide included the new information, she said.


Chelsea Laskowski is a web writer with CBC Saskatoon.