Upcycled crops used to make new, surprising products in Japan

Good News Notes:

Upcycling crops that would have otherwise been thrown away is becoming more popular, from making denim out of sugarcane residue to cooking jam from concentrated banana skins.

As there is a wide variety of upcycled products, such environmentally friendly brands are likely to catch the eye of consumers.

Residue resulting from pressed sugarcane, a major crop of Okinawa Prefecture, is mostly discarded as waste. However, Naoto Yamamoto, 44, who runs a consulting company in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, wondered if it could be used to promote Okinawa Prefecture instead.

In the autumn of 2018, Yamamoto started manufacturing clothing and other products under the brand name Shima Denim Works with other young businesspeople from the prefecture.

To make the material, the sugarcane residue is dried, ground and made into washi paper in Mino, Gifu Prefecture, before being woven with cotton in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, an area known for manufacturing denim.

Once it is made, craftspeople in Okinawa Prefecture sew the material together to make products, which are similar in appearance to 100% denim. The absorptive material is also said to be fast-drying.

A pair of Shima Denim jeans costs between ¥27,500 and ¥36,300 and can be purchased at a specialty shop in Urasoe, Okinawa Prefecture, as well as online. Sales in 2021 increased by 50% compared to the previous year.

“More and more people see the value of [the jeans], not only because of the high-quality material but also because it was upcycled,” Yamamoto said.

Shio-mikan is a seasoning made from mikan tangerines that would have been disposed of through fruit thinning or because they did not meet market standards. It is made by grinding and salting the unpeeled, rejected mikan.

Miyamoto Orange Garden Inc., an agricultural production corporation in Yawatahama, Ehime Prefecture, has been selling the seasoning since 2016. The company has also made jelly, a pasta sauce and salad dressings using Shio-mikan….”

View the whole story here: https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0008190509

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