One of the best things about the festive season is that it embraces the joy of giving. The older you get the more you appreciate giving gifts, as well as receiving them. It’s the perfect excuse to spoil your loved one rotten and there’s no sight more satisfying than a pile, big or small, or brightly-coloured packages under the tree. But with all the merriment comes one big drawback. While winter holidays are good for our hearts (if not our waistlines), they’re not so good for the environment. We buy and eat way more food than we need, get cheap one-off decorations like crackers, garlands or snow-in-a-can and go through a LOT of wrapping paper. And where does that wrapping paper wind up? The trash. Even if you’re a diligent recycler, it’s still extremely wasteful. However, there’s an age-old Japanese tradition that can put an end to all that, plus make gift wrapping that much more fun.
Allow us to introduce you to the art of Furoshiki. Originally, this practice was designed to protect valuable goods, but over time has become an elegant artform. Furoshiki involves using fabric to securely, and beautifully, wrap any object. There are different methods depending on the shape of the item you have, so gone are the days of anything other than a neat box shape looking like a hastily sellotaped mess. It might take a few tries to get the hang of it – Furoshiki is not unlike the art of origami, so careful folding and a basic grasp of geometry are required. But once you figure it out, you’ll soon become hooked. Without the need for any ribbon or bows, you’ll have beautiful packages, embellished with nothing more than the fabric itself! You can create lots of different styles, depending on what twists and folds you like, and the final tied knots look just as pretty as any bow.
The main attraction of Furoshiki is therefore in the colour and patterns of the fabric. You can pick a wide variety of designs, no different than wrapping paper, but you’ll be able to use them time and time again, since there’s no need to tear anything to unwrap the gifts. You can wash and fold your cloths away, ready for the next special occasion. Alternatively, the cloths themselves can be part of your gift, since it can double up as a scarf, handkerchief or bandana. Better yet, you can teach Furoshiki to your gift recipient and encourage them to reuse their wrapper for someone else’s gift and opt for more of it over paper gift wrap in the future.
You could even crank the eco element up a notch and reuse pre-owned fabrics to use as your wrapping materials. If you have any old fabrics around the house – t-shirts, towels, tablecloths etc, you can cut them up into squares of various sizes and wrap all of your presents without needing to spend a penny. If you’ve nothing spare around the house then not to worry, you could pick out some pieces from a charity shop, like scarves or shawls, or even make use of spare fabric leftovers from a tailor’s or textile shop.
By embracing Furoshiki, you’ll not only be helping the environment but learning a traditional art form, flexing your creative muscle and learning a bit about a different culture!