Furoshiki: A Type of Traditional Japanese Wrapping

Anna Axell
Do It Green! Minnesota

The origins of furoshiki (pronounced ‘fu-ro-shi-ki’) date back to the Nara period, 710-794 CE in Japan. Furoshiki was originally used to wrap clothes at the Todai temple in Nara, Japan. Furoshiki is now an essential tool in daily life in Japan and is often used instead of a bag for storing articles, giving gifts or for other domestic uses. It is not only used for wrapping but also as a tablecloth, a wall decoration, a fashion accessory, a wine bottle holder or drapes.

Ms. Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment in Japan, has created the “Mottainai Furoshiki” as a symbol of Japanese culture to reduce waste. It is a furoshiki cloth made from recycled PET bottles. The utilization of this “Mottainai Furoshiki” will contribute to reducing household waste from plastic bags. The ministry has produced a PDF with instructions with 14 different ways of folding a cloth so that you can carry just about anything. See the link in the Resource Box.

Why should you use furoshiki rather than wrapping paper?

  •  As much as half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans consume every year goes toward packaging, wrapping and decorating goods.
  •  Wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about four million tons of trash annually in the U.S.
  •  Wrapping paper is often dyed and laminated.
  •  Wrapping paper may contain non-paper additives such as gold and silver coloring, glitter and plastics that are not recyclable.
  •  Wrapping paper can be very thin and may contain few high quality fibers for recycling again.
  •  Wrapping usually has tape on it from being wrapped around a gift making the recycling process more difficult.
  •  If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it could save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  •  If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
  •  Finally, it serves as a second gift: the person can then wrap another gift in the same cloth and keep the recycling circle going!

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