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Back to the Source: Rattan and Water Hyacinth

Back to the Source: Rattan and Water Hyacinth

As the New Year is upon us, most of us have a keen eye turned to the future, and what better resolution than to go eco – starting with our closet. On our recent journey to Java and Kalimantan in Borneo, we discovered some exotic, beautiful materials that are, most importantly, sustainable.

These materials mean a new and exciting chapter for Purse for the People on our road to creating new designs and partnering with the skilled, traditional artisans among the indigenous peoples from the rainforest. In this post, we're going to introduce you to two of our favourite sustainable, plant-based materials: rattan and water hyacinth.

Fast Fashion vs Sustainable Practices 

There are everyday textiles in our closets, such as rayon, viscose, and modal, which can be used to replace plastics and petroleum or chemical-based synthetics. However, some of these plant-based replacements, though a healthier alternative to plastics, are not necessarily sustainable and can in fact lead to additional deforestation. Our mission is to introduce you to some of the splendid, but maybe lesser known plant-based materials.  All are grown, harvested, and then processed into fashion items sustainably, in the rainforest.

The rainforests of Indonesia have been experiencing large-scale deforestation over the course of the past decade. According to Global Forest Watch, the country lost over 60,000 square miles of tree cover between 2001 and 2013.  We are asking you to help us increase the demand for products that help to conserve the forest and its many resources.

If we use more of these sustainable materials, positive economic pressures are placed to keep the forest intact. The indigenous people of the forest also benefit by staying on the land and managing it in the sustainable ways of their ancient cultures.


Rattan is not only a strong and beautiful material that can be used for fashion and furniture, it helps keep the rainforest intact. 


It needs the trees to be present, so it can climb up into the forest canopy. This makes rattan a sustainable source, as it can be re-harvested again after several years of regrowth.

Natalie of Sustainably Chic

Water Hyacinth

In most places, water hyacinth is considered an invasive species and water pest plant. However, it is finding some redemption as it can be processed in a strong fibre. This fibre can then be used in a variety of products.


Using sustainable materials such as rattan and water hyacinth in place of less eco-friendly fabrics could be a significant way to help the environment. A natural fibres hold great potential when integrated into fashion items and home décor.

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