Furoshiki: The Ultimate in Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping

We all remember the newspaper gift wrapping trend of the 90s. Anyone who was at all eco-conscious at the time was encouraged to wrap their gifts in newspaper or the Sunday comics – it looks fun! It’s reusing! Yay! That got old pretty fast, though. Since then, there have been a lot of ideas generated on the most earth-friendly ways to wrap our gifts. Recycled kraft paper; reusable cloth bags; and cloth such as towels are all fairly popular ideas. A few years ago, while researching an article to collect some of the best ideas for eco-friendly gift wrapping, I came across one idea that I’m still shocked hasn’t really caught on in the mainstream: furoshiki.

My furoshiki creations for this Christmas.

Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese method of wrapping and tying cloths to wrap gifts or transport items (such as library books). I’ve heard from some sources that the tying cloths were considered special and passed among families over time.

It’s really very simple. My furoshiki usually consists of just wrapping the cloth around the item and tying it in the way that intuitively seems to work best. That said, there are specific methods that work best for different sizes and shapes of items.

While there are websites where you can buy furoshiki cloths, and they now carry them at Lush (and the ones at Lush are really cute!), I mostly buy scarves for $5 or less at thrift shops and garage sales. I stockpile them during the year and when Christmas rolls around, I have quite a few and can usually manage to wrap a large percentage of my gifts in furoshiki. Many of them get passed back to me and I reuse them, though I hope it will catch on among my extended family and they’ll start using the cloths to wrap their gifts, too.

Top left: DVD wrapped in a plain green scarf (from a thrift shop) // Top right: book wrapped in another thrift shop scarf, with coordinating ribbon added // Bottom left: Lego set wrapped in a full sari (it’s twisted and brought back around at the bottom) // Bottom right: Notebook wrapped in a furoshiki cloth from Lush, with a tag made from wood paneling and painted.

Not a fantastic photo, but I love this gift. It’s a tartan scarf doubled and wrapped around a Contiga travel mug. I think the knot at the top worked out really well.

Another furoshiki cloth from Lush. I’ve already used this one to wrap gifts a few times. So cheery! This is a birthday gift for Neko.

Sometimes, I use an item like a playsilk, towel or scarf that I’m actually giving as part of the gift, to wrap another gift.

This is a large, rainbow playsilk that I bought for Neko for Christmas. I decided to make it do double duty and also use it to wrap her new wool jammies!

How fun is this? I get to skip the tape and scissors, be waste-free on Christmas morning, and they look so pretty! I also find wrapping this way much quicker than any other method I’ve tried.

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