A biodegradable and compostable yoga mat developed from water hyacinth by six young girls from a fishing community in Assam could turn this water plant from a nuisance to wealth.
The girls belong to the fishing community living in the fringe of the Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake in southwest of Guwahati city, recognised as a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) and a bird wildlife sanctuary. The lake has been a source of livelihood for nine villages of the fishing community who shared this biome for centuries, but over the years suffered from excessive growth and accumulation of water hyacinth.
The innovation by the girls, whose families are directly dependent on the wetland for survival, could contribute significantly towards the environmental conservation and sustainability of Deepor Beel and also ensure local livelihood. The mat called, Moorhen Yoga Mat, will soon be introduced to the world market as a unique product.
The intervention was triggered through an initiative by North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR), an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India to involve the entire women community associated with a collective called Simang, meaning dream, led by the six girls to create wealth from water hyacinth plants.
Considering all aspects of water hyacinth’s properties and the functional requirements of a product like a mat, a hand-woven 100% biodegradable and 100 % compostable mat to be used for doing yoga was ideated as a means to provide multiple ecological and social benefits. The mat developed through fiber processing and technological interventions could improve the aquatic ecosystem of the wetland through removal of water hyacinth, help sustainable production of utility products with community engagement and generate of livelihood for indigenous communities to become completely self-reliant.
As the collection, drying and preparation of the water hyacinth before using it for weaving is the most important process, small interventions of technology were…