Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrap this Christmas

Britain bins around 226,000 miles of gift-wrap each Christmas. That’s enough paper to stretch around the world 9 times, straight into bin bags. If you add that to the wrapping paper we use throughout the year on birthdays and other such celebrations you can more than double that figure. At the same time we have a huge problem with textile waste. Clothes and textiles that get damaged or stained are - at best - sent off to be recycled and at worst, quietly packed off to landfill. There must be a better way?

Inspired by the Japanese art of Furoshiki, there is. Furoshiki is a traditional cloth used to wrap and carry clothing, gifts and other goods. With careful folds and knots of the cloth objects can be carried securely and neatly, the cloth reusable again and again. Much like origami, there is an art to doing it properly. Fancy folds include the ‘apple wrap’ and ‘bag wrap’ but box wraps are fairly simple. You can check out the techniques online.

As for the best fabrics to use, you don’t need to go out and buy special Furoshiki wraps, you can make do with any spare textiles you have laying around. Charity shops are great places to pick up bargains fabrics, selling discarded cloth and old curtains. If you get lucky, you’ll find an old festive tablecloth. Make sure the fabric is fairly lightweight (not plastic covered) and cut it carefully into sections large enough to wrap your gifts with plenty spare for knotting. You could make gift tags from last year’s Christmas cards by cutting out the interesting pictures and securing with ribbon.

Another option is Wrag Wrap. Inspired by Furoshiki, Wrag Wrap make reusable, environmentally-friendly wrap in a range of sizes and colours. A Christmas bottle bag costs £3.35 and small stretch wrap just £1.50. It’s great for families who pass gifts amongst one another. As an extra talking point you could purchase ‘Festiwrap’ which is made from recycled polyester tents scooped up from festivals like Glastonbury and Lattitude. Now that’s cool wrap!

Show the recipient of your gift how to the art of Furoshiki works and they can then reuse that wrap for giving gifts of their own. You’re not just giving a gift of books/games/chocolate or whatever else your generous self picked out, you’re giving the ancient gift of Furoshiki, and diverting paper and cloth from landfill. What could be better than that?

"Furoshiki designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser for 'Fernwärme Wien' AG" by Wolfgang H. Wögerer, Wien, Austria.

Emma Waight