GUWAHATI: A biodegradable and compostable yoga mat, developed from water hyacinth by six young girls of Assam, could turn this water plant from a nuisance to wealth.
The girls belong to the fishing community living in the fringe villages of Deepor Beel, a permanent freshwater lake here.
The lake, recognised as a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) and a bird sanctuary, has been a source of livelihood for nine villages of the fishing community who share 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.
Considering all aspects of water hyacinth’s properties and the functional requirements of a product like a mat, a hand-woven 100 per cent biodegradable and 100 per cent 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 livelihood for indigenous communities to become self-dependent.
The women wove the water hyacinth mats using traditional Assamese loom with the help of different combinations of techniques, materials and tools to develop a high quality, comfortable and thoroughly biodegradable and compostable yoga mat.
It has resulted in engagement of 38 women from three fringe villages.
The ‘Moorhen Yoga mat’ named after Kam Sorai (purple moorhen, a resident bird of Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary), comes in a cotton canvas cloth bag where no zip or metal closures are used.
The bag has adjustable strap and closures effectively designed to be in sync with biodegradability.
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