In India, water hyacinth is being used to make mats, paper, and other handicrafts. But in an innovative move, Jamshedpur’s Gaurav Anand has found a way to make fusion sarees  from it.

“Water hyacinth is known as the terror of Bengal. This weed grows in still pond water, and almost every household here has a pond in their backyard,” says the 46-year-old.

“I wanted to come up with a sustainable solution to the growing problem of water hyacinth so that people do not see it as a nuisance but as a resource,” he adds.

The process of converting water hyacinth into a fusion saree is arduous work. First, the stems of the plant are collected and dried in the sun for a week.

“We keep the soft cover of the stem to make paper while we use the pulp to make fibre. Fibre from the stem is extracted after hot water treatment to remove insects from the pulp,” he says.

These fibres are used to make yarn, which is then coloured. Weavers then weave the saree on a handloom. They need around 3-4 days to make one saree.

In these fusion sarees, Gaurav has kept the ratio of 25:75 for water hyacinth and cotton. “If we make a 100% water hyacinth saree, it will be a little weak in strength. We are planning to fuse 50% water hyacinth to make it more sustainable,” he says.

“We utilise 25 kg of water hyacinth to make one fusion saree. It is a first-of-its-kind product in the world,” claims Gaurav.

Since February 2022, when he first made such a saree, he has been able to make 50 fusion sarees and aims to make 1,000 more by the end of this year.