What is Furoshiki?

Ingrid Steinberg  DECEMBER 17, 2020

One of the rewarding aspects of attempting a zero-waste lifestyle is the opportunity to be more creative and to find beauty in new ways of doing things.


In Japan, environmentalists and the government are reviving an age-old custom for wrapping gifts, storing items, and transporting goods called furoshiki. Savvy zero-wasters around the world have taken note. Furoshiki is the use of fabric – often featuring a beautiful design – to wrap gifts and transport items. Furoshiki cloths range from the very large to the tiny – to match the need at hand. There are numerous techniques for wrapping different shaped objects, and for creating a carrier bag. 


For gift wrapping, furoshiki is a way to give gorgeously wrapped gifts in a way that does not tax the environment: the cloth can be reused indefinitely for gift wrapping or other purposes. 


The Japanese Ministry for the Environment has provided the image below, illustrating the range of furoshiki techniques for wrapping and carrying different types of objects. There are many other sources of instruction online.


Source: https://www.env.go.jp/en/focus/attach/060403-5.html


Furoshiki wrapping cloths of all sizes and designs can be bought from websites like Etsy, or crafty gift givers can make or repurpose their own. Alternatively, one can get creative with fabrics that normally serve other purposes. For example, I once received a bottle of wine attractively wrapped in a gorgeous large kitchen towel. While the wine was long-ago enjoyed and forgotten, I still use the towel on a daily basis. An attractive cloth napkin or even a scarf could serve the purpose.


Since discovering the simple idea of furoshiki, I have put it to a number of uses. I have gifted, carried, and also wrapped food items. Apples in the backpack for a hike? Wrap in a cloth napkin. Kids lunch items? Wrap with a cloth inside the lunchbox instead of using a tupperware. Gifts? Creative wrapping in beautiful fabrics lends them a feel of something truly special.


This holiday season, search “furoshiki images” for beautiful ideas to elevate your gift giving and commit to zero-waste gifting. 


[image credit: Anthropologie]

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