Japan’s famed Nara deer have been considered national treasures for decades – but some of the tourists who flock to see them leave behind a trail of deadly plastic waste (in 2019 alone nine deer had been found dead, with plastic bags in their stomachs).
Many visitors are believed to feed the deer other snacks than the allowed specially-made sugar-free crackers, discarding food wrappers and plastic bags along the way. The deer then smell the bags, think they are food, and eat them.
A local entrepreneur teamed up with a local paper manufacturer to developed “Shikagami,” or deer paper bag, which is made from rice bran and milk cartons – the same ingredients used in the deer-friendly crackers.
The newly developed bags have been instrumental in saving the lives of the many of deer that roam Nara. The bags are safe for deer because the milk cartons and rice bran used to make these bags contain easy-to-digest ingredients.