Japanese Furoshiki and Sustainable Gift Wrapping

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My latest obsession...the art of Furoshiki Gift Wrapping. I love Japan's rich culture, which is where I first discovered this art of gift wrapping. I traveled to Japan many years ago and met some wonderful new friends. Upon departing Japan they had wrapped up a little remembrance gift for me and my husband and packaged it up with this delightful double sided and beautiful cloth. In my many years for the quest to discover ways to alter my effect (of waste) on the planet, I realized that this was a great solution to my holiday gift wrapping. 

Christmas wrapping paper

In the past 5 or so years, we've definitely seen a decline in wrapping paper that is bad for the environment. I love Christmas as much as the next person, but the heaps of wrapping paper and waste of the season was eating away at me the older I got. When I was a kid, silver tinsel was still a thing, foamy toxic white "snow" on trees was more prevalent and toxic than it is now, and wrapping paper came in heaps and bounds. The materials that go into making some wrapping paper mean that it's not always accepted for recycling. It is often dyed, laminated or contains non-paper additives, like gold and silver colored shapes/foil, glitter or plastics, which can't be recycled. It may look gorgeous under the Christmas tree but it is adding to a more complex problem that takes away from my inclination to limit my waste.

Today we're sharing the art of Furoshiki wrapping and give you some other alternative options for gift wrapping that don't make my heart cry. (I know, a bit dramatic right?)

5 Alternative Ways of Sustainable Gift Wrap

Here are 5 great ideas for gift wrapping that are better for the environment, in some cases re-useable, and will always score you extra point for originality.

1. craft paper roll

Kraft/Craft paper is so cheap to buy. Cut out some potato stamps, or carve out rubber stamps (as I did in the image above) and stamp away. This can be a great activity to do with kids. Get the kids to color in the artwork and you've got something original and heartfelt.

kids gift wrap stamps

reindeer stamped craft wrapping paper

gift wrap stamped
2. furoshiki

Furoshiki are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. In this case, modern cloth can be printed cottons, silks, or any fabric in any size (I've been using vintage scarves that I've been saving up for years). The idea is that you can use a variety of wrapping and knotting techniques to create a gift wrap that's resilient, multipurpose, beautiful, and green! In fact, it’s one of the symbols of traditional Japanese culture and puts an accent on taking care of things and avoiding waste. 

Furoshiki Gift Wrap with Reusable Scarf
Wine Bottle Gift Wrap Furoshiki
3. old maps or pages from old books

I have a ton of old maps laying around our car and basement. We collected them from our various trips to national parks and states. They make for a great second hand use. Grab them and wrap away.

map gift wrap

Image from Ramshackle Glam

4. Clay pots for planters, colored plastic pots from IKEA, or reusable containers

This is a great way to give the gift of two things: a re-useable container, and the present within. I like to think of giving a plant/small fruit tree or maybe a nice gift basket of local foods.

5. Reusable Gift Bags:
  • Many companies are now offering reusable bags or sacks to be used instead of wrapping paper.
  • WrapSacks adds something special, by including a tracking number allowing you to see where the bag has been and where it goes.
  • Patagonia also has great gift bags made from leftover fabric but you'll have to call them to get them.
  • Now that reusable shopping bags are everywhere, choose a nice one from your favorite food coop and gift it.

Furoshiki Wrap Photos: Jordan Katz Photography

christamas gift wrap holidays sustainable

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