Finance and Business

A Fast-Growing Weed Chokes Lakes In 50 Countries. Now Women Weave It Into Bags | World Wide Waste

this invasive weed is choking lakes and rivers around the world water hyacinths now clogged waterways in over 50 countries including tomle sap the largest freshwater lake in southeast asia the people there cannot travel easily when it grows super thick and also the living things under the water die so far exterminating the plant has proven impossible for the 1.5 million people who live here now locals are removing the pest with their bare hands and giving new life to the dry stems we went to cambodia to see how local women are making fashionable bags from worldwide waste water hyacinth is native to the amazon but over the past century humans helped it spread to places it never should have been it’s been transported all over the world because it’s beautiful it’s an ornamental plant species dr kit magellan is an ecologist who studies invasive plants it’s native to the upper reaches of the amazon basin most of the transport occurred during the early 20th century in the amazon weevils and moths keep the hyacinths in check but without predators the plants can double in size every two weeks they block out light and oxygen and kill all kinds of other species that’s a big problem for tonle sapp’s floating villages tony sapp is the heart of cambodia this is a unique ecosystem and the villages around there have a rather unique lifestyle the hyacinths creates so much waste that they’re harming stocks of staple foods and they make it harder to get around many times we got stuck for a few hours in the middle of the water hyacinth lake hau sunstra runs rocock a company that hires women to remove the weeds by hand and then weave the stems into baskets rugs and other handicrafts she says she wanted to help local women earn a living while dealing with the plant that makes their way of life more difficult many women they still live in the circle of grown up and get married in the young age i want them to be employed and to get some training today four weavers work for rocock they can bundle as many as 200 hyacinth stocks at a time they bring them back on to shore to dry in the sun for up to two weeks then they wash them all [Music] the women lay the stems out on top of this wooden platform and steam the plants over charcoal to kill bacteria and get the right color after the steaming our weavers would select the size of water hyacinth stem they use small stems for coasters and medium ones for bags and baskets the largest stems will become rugs our weaving is based on our traditional weaving you can see from our weaving style and also the fabric that we use this one we made for a one of the apartment in siem reap one rug can take three women over a month to weave but at roccock women can make up to 300 for a finished product more than what the average cambodian earns in a month there are millions of people around the world struggling with water hyacinths and they’ve found all kinds of solutions in bangladesh locals farm on top of mats made from the invasive plant mechanical harvesters on lake victoria in kenya keep the plants in check but they’re expensive to operate local entrepreneurs there have found success helping the weeds break down into biogas for cooking and compost for growing crops in nigeria a startup similar to roccok also employs women to make handicrafts one thing we have to remember about all of these uses is they’re they’re probably not sustainable so they’re only short-term solutions to the problem of this invasive species because if we create an industry using this species then we’re going to create a demand for this species rocox weavers say they’re making an impact on the environment despite their small work force but the hyacinths reproduce far faster than the company’s four employees can harvest them still hausun straw has succeeded in one part of her mission to give the women of tonle sap an opportunity to support their families i used to question myself how to be independent like when i grown up this is what i would like to see in the other women you
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