Japanese Eco-Gifting: It's A Wrap


Japanese culture has no need for wrapping paper, so why should we?

We have to applaud any way of preventing all that glossy paper and sticky tape being discarded – contributing to the extra 5 million tons of garbage hitting the municipal waste plants around the festive periods. Sure, wrapping paper can be recycled (you could make colourful covers for home-made notebooks). But why not look to other choices?

The Japanese word for thrifty is mottainai, roughly translating to "it’s a shame where something isn’t used as much as it could be". Nowhere is this philosophy more apparent than in the tradition of furoshiki – delicately patterned giftwrapping cloth.

The practice may date back as far as 800 A.D., when these cloths were used to bundle clothes together (the word means "bath spread"). Furoshiki is currently enjoying a high profile in Japan thanks to its eco-friendly value.

Furoshiki can be made of any fabric you choose, although the common choices are cotton, nylon or – for extra luxury – silk. And wrapping up your presents turns from a chore into an art form – have a look at all the different ways of folding a furoshiki, including the kimono wine wrap (pictured).

Best of all, they make a double gift – after you unwrap, your recipient can store the furoshiki away for future use. It’s effortless recycling with no waste and a great deal of artistry. Certainly more creative than a toss-away gift bag!

EcoSalon picks:

Ecoshikis in Portland offers a range of cotton, silk and reclaimed furoshikis from $8.

Furoshiki.com‘s range, imported from Japan (average price $25). And to further delve into this fascinating craft, check out Kunio Ekiquchi’s Gift Wrapping: Creative Ideas For Japan.

Let’s say sayonara to wrapping paper!

Image: Ecoshikis

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.