Japanese man invents an alternative to “edible” plastic bags to save Nara’s sacred deer

(CNN)- Local entrepreneur in a tourist destination in Japan Nara Developed a plastic shopping bag alternative to protect the town Sacred deer..
Hidetoshi Matsukawa, who works for a souvenir wholesaler in Nara, CNN He heard last year that a deer roaming a city park died after ingesting a plastic bag.

“I wanted to do something to protect the deer, the symbol of Nara,” he said.

The bag is made from rice bran and a milk carton.

Courtesy Bunyod

The city is home to about 1,000 sacred deer, which are officially designated as national treasures of nature. JapanAnd many tourists give them a treat.

However, in July 2019, a local welfare organization said nine deer were found dead with plastic bags in their stomachs and called on visitors not to throw away the plastic bags in the park. ..

Mr. Matsukawa came up with another solution and worked on the project in collaboration with a local paper and design company.

These plastic bags were pulled out of the stomach of a dead deer.

These plastic bags were pulled out of the stomach of a dead deer.

Courtesy Bunyod

In the meantime, he developed a “shikigami” made from rice bran and a milk carton, that is, deer paper.

“I learned that rice bran is almost wasted in the process of milling rice,” Matsukawa said. “Therefore, this paper also helps reduce that waste.”

Matsukawa has tested the bag and says it is safe for human consumption.

“There is no data to support that this paper does not harm deer, but I think it is safe for both deer and humans,” he said with a laugh.

Since then, bags have been tested at local banks and at Todaiji Temple, a major tourist attraction in Nara. As part of the pilot project, the temple and the bank bought 4,000-5,000 bags each for 100 yen (about 95 cents).

As more companies sign up to use the bag, prices will go down, Matsukawa said.

“The news about the death of a deer in a plastic bag creates a negative image, as if the park were a deer graveyard,” he said. “Paper bags can not only protect deer, but also protect the brand image of deer and Nara.”

Only 45 minutes by train from Kyoto, Nara is a popular destination for visitors to Japan.

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