Japan preserving its treasure with edible plastic

Plastic, a boon for humans is a curse for all other organisms and environment as a whole. While thinking of environment the majority will have pictures of plastic bags and wrappers floating in lakes or empty water bottles near greenery, forgetting about the organisms that can be easily seen but ignored even easily.

In India, nearly 1,000 stray cows die of consuming plastic litter. In March, 2020 a cow was found dead in Karaikal, Pondicherry. Later, it was discovered that the holy animal died of consuming over 12 kilogrammes of plastic.

While the conditions are worse in India, not much hope can be found in other countries. Last year several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the Nara’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers, prompting calls for tourists not to leave their rubbish behind. One of the dead animals had swallowed more than 4kg of rubbish.

However, one man among the many people worried by the situation in Nara went on to find the solution by inventing edible plastic for his own town’s sacred deer. Hidetoshi Matsukawa in Japan’s Nara town found out that deer were dying after consuming plastic bags left by tourists.

Matsukawa teamed up with a local paper manufacturer in Nara to develop deer paper called “Shikagami” made from rice bran and milk.“We made the paper with the deer in mind,” businessman Hidetoshi Matsukawa, who enlisted other firms after hearing of the deer’s plight, told the Kyodo news agency.

Hidetoshi Matsukawa, left, Kiyoshi Ogawa, center, and Takashi Nakamura, who developed the “shika gami” deer-friendly paper

“Tourism in Nara is supported by deer so we will protect them and promote the bags as a brand for the local economy,” added Matsukawa, who with his colleagues spent a year developing a safe and edible bag.The tourist friendly deer of Nara town of Japan are believed to be sacred and divine messengers. These were officially designated as the national treasure in 1957.

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