For several years now, we have been acutely aware of the detrimental effect of Water Hyacinth in Kenya's lakes. In Lake Naivasha, located in the same county as our Maai Mahiu Maker Studio, the invasive weed has covered more than a third of the Lake, making it hard to navigate the waterway and fish. With no natural predators, Hyacinth proliferates, takes up space, adversely affects the ecosystem, and provides a new habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
When sourcing for new sustainable packaging, our Product Development and Materials Manager Marieke Rowland found that Nairobi-based brand Provisions Kenya was partnering with fishermen in Kisumu, a Kenyan port city on Lake Victoria, to make paper out of the plant's pulp. The invasive plant now covers an estimated 17,000 hectares, about 5 % of the Lake's surface.
A family owned business and operated by sisters Nancy and Susie Kinyanjui, the dynamic duo behind the brand are passionate about natural and useful finds. They work with artisans across the country to source handmade, eco-friendly, and ethical finds based on the belief that the best products are homegrown. Their product range includes everything from essential oils like Frankincense and Eucalyptus, plant-dyed wool yarn, 100% pure beeswax candles and food wraps, artisan sheepskin slippers, and superfoods like Spirulina.
Our latest collection, which consists of 3 bundles of 7 single-strand bracelets, is packaged around a Hyacinth paper card. Once die cut Provisions Kenya screen print the Hyacinth paper with the Ubuntu Life logo. Each Hyacinth plant is about 16cm in size; it takes roughly ten hyacinth plants to make a single sheet of paper. By purchasing our latest collection, you are actively supporting environmental restoration.
Here is what goes into making Hyacinth paper: