Comox Valley resident invents eco-friendly glow stick

Each year, Paige Whitehead says more than 500 million single-use, toxic glow sticks end up in the trash. Collectively, they would fill 8,000 dumpsters.

In an effort to deal with the problem, the Comox Valley resident has invented an eco-friendly glow stick powered with bioluminescence. Dubbed the Nyoka Light Wand, she plans to launch her invention Jan. 20.

“Bioluminescence is an enzyme-based reaction,” said Whitehead, a 2010 graduate of Highland Secondary who completed a microbiology and environmental studies degree at UVic. “It’s non-toxic and biodegradable, and represents decades of advancements in the field of biotechnology that we can harness this reaction for the wand.”

The compostable wand contains an aluminum cap, vinyl tubing and leather cording. It’s activated by inserting a bioluminescent charge, adding water and shaking it.

“All you have to do is add water to activate the glow,” she said.

The Jan. 20 launch will offer a limited run of 100 wands — Whitehead’s response to an open call from Kickstarter, a global community built around creative projects. Its Make100 Initiative encourages creative ideas as a limited run of 100.

An environmental advocate, Whitehead said the wand will be healing for the soil environment when it degrades.

“Biotechnology has the potential to create a world where everything we use, everything we do, is contributing to a healthy society and healing our planet,” she said. “This Kickstarter is one exciting step forward to reaching that goal.”

Whitehead is part of the MIT Community Biology Initiative, has presented her work at the MIT Media Lab, and leads classes in hands-on biotechnology and environmental restoration. She has also finished the League of Innovators youth-entrepreneur incubator program started by Hootsuite founder Ryan Holmes, and the Project Zero Circular Economy incubator program on Vancouver Island.

Become involved with the start of the Nyoka Light Wand on social media @lightbynyoka, or at www.lightbynyoka.com

Sign up for the Kickstarter at bit.ly/2stkIR9

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