Coming from a multidisciplinary background of art and science, Mariya Amijee is an artist at heart. During her time at Maryville University, she was awarded a research grant to explore the physical properties of invasive honeysuckle in Saint Louis, Missouri. A few months after that, she curated an art exhibit with the help of students from various departments, raising over $1,200 in one night. Faculty, staff, and students took interest in the program and produced a variety of pieces for the show using honeysuckle. Profits went towards raising awareness about invasive species, and Mariya walked away knowing what her passion was.
Mariya works as a designer in Austin, Texas. She launched a business last year to raise awareness about invasive plants in her area that are destroying native plant and animal biodiversity and leading to species extinction.
To do this creatively, she hosts Fiberology workshops in which attendees create products such as jewelry, household items, and art. When they share their creations with family and friends, they also raise awareness about harmful plants that can be growing in their backyards. 10% of the profits are donated towards replanting native species.
She was recently featured on Fox News where she gave a brief demonstration on how non native plants can be used to make crafts and jewellery.
Today, she collaborates with various environmental groups in the Central Texas area, trying to spread the word and exploring invasive bamboo, honeysuckle, ligustrum, wisteria, and much more.
‘We learned that not all plants in our backyards do good to our environments. For example, non-native (invasive) plants have tendencies to be stronger than native plants. They grow faster, stealing valuable resources such as sunlight and nutrients. As native plants start to die and become extinct, so do all the organisms that depend on them,’ she said.
To shine light on this issue, Mariya and her team collaborate with knowledgeable volunteers and remove harmful invasive plants from city grounds. From the the extracted biomass, they invite people to make beautiful products through workshops and craft boxes.