Are you looking for sustainable décor?
Sustainability isn’t just good for the planet – it’s one of the hottest trends in home and office décor today. More and more decorators and homeowners want to invest in products that are beautiful and durable but made from eco-friendly fabrics and materials.
Besides being made from fast-growing, non-endangered plant materials, sustainable décor should feature non-toxic components, including the chemicals it’s finished with. It should also have a reduced carbon footprint or environmental impact, minimize waste, and be ethically made.
Enter wicker made from water hyacinth!
This is not your Grandma’s wicker! (We all remember – or have seen photos of – the white-painted wicker that was ubiquitous on every nice patio in America for decades, usually paired with tropical or floral cushions. A macramé planter was also often nearby.)
Water hyacinth wicker, which is largely unfinished, mixes beautifully with wood pieces you may already have and can work in any space in your home. Wicker made from water hyacinth is incredibly sustainable; it grows so fast and so thickly that it’s considered an invasive species in some places.
Artisans and farmers are constantly looking for new uses for the hardy, stubborn plant, and wicker has risen as one of the best, most profitable options. Artisans around the world are developing new ways to weave it and creating new products from it all the time.
What is water hyacinth?
Water hyacinth is a floating plant with beautiful purple flowers. It is native to South America but has appeared in much of the southern United States, any place where there aren’t sustained freezes. It’s also made inroads in parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Water hyacinth can form thick mats that cover the entire surface of ponds, choking out native species and oxygen in the water. Fish can’t survive in water without oxygen, so it’s important to control the growth of the plant. In some states, such as Texas, Florida, and California, it’s illegal to have water hyacinth on your property because of just how pervasive it can be.
What can water hyacinth be used for?
The desire to control water hyacinth has driven the challenge to find ways to remove it from waterways and use it in productive, sustainable ways. Some of the most popular uses so far include:
- Feeding livestock
- Purifying water
- Making paper
- Cooking and eating it
- Creating bioenergy
- Weaving furniture and decorative items
Baskets, handbags, picture frames, and other decorative materials made from weaving water hyacinth into wicker are lightweight but durable. Like all sustainable décor items, they require special care and handling.
Most sustainable wood-type décor, including wicker, isn’t treated with shellac or other materials that can release dangerous chemicals into the air. The trade-off is that it’s also more able to absorb water and humidity, causing potential warping and damage.
One thing wicker doesn’t like: heat. Keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources like your fireplace, wood stove, or radiator. Wicker baskets are not good pieces for the top of the fireplace mantel in winter! If your wicker seems like it’s drying out, make sure it’s not too close to a heat source or direct sunlight. A light coat of linseed oil or lemon oil will help restore it if needed. Make sure to apply sparingly and buff off all excess!
Untreated wicker is susceptible to grease and oil. Use it in well-ventilated areas and don’t handle it right after applying hand lotion. If you plan to use wicker baskets for food, line them with cloth or plastic to protect them from any oils that might come from the food. The wicker can absorb oils and change color, stain, or get dirty over time. It’s best to wear gloves when handling wicker items, if possible.
Clean your baskets and other wicker items with a feather duster or a clean, dry paintbrush. A can of compressed air (sold with the office supplies) or a child’s toothbrush may come in handy for blowing dust out of tightly woven corners. Some sites recommend hosing off wicker, and that may be okay for old-school painted wicker, but can cause untreated wicker to swell and possibly mildew.
Mix your water hyacinth wicker with other sustainable, planet-friendly options like living plants (upcycle items like old pots for planters), bamboo items, soy candles, recycled fabrics, and non-toxic paints for a home that is as good for the Earth as it is for your soul.
Need inspiration for making your personality shine through in your home? Make your decorating decisions easier by signing up with Decocrated. We will send you a décor box designed to fit beautifully with any home and elevate your nice-looking space to remarkable. We have design booklets for every new season, so you can see what’s new and what you want, and exclusive offers for members.