Furoshiki: The Sustainable Way to Wrap Gifts

Is anyone else sick of buying a roll of wrapping paper, knowing full well that after it has served its only purpose,  it will be thrown straight into the bin? According to the EPA, Ireland produced 450,000,000 (four hundred fifty million) kg of paper and cardboard waste in 2020 alone. Although paper is widely recycled in Ireland, most wrapping papers are coated with a plastic laminate which means they cannot be recycled. On top of that – research conducted by Greenpeace found that 1kg of wrapping paper is responsible for more than 3kg of CO2 emissions during its production process – mainly due to the 1.3kg of coal needed to manufacture it.

But wrapping paper is an intrinsic part of the act of gift-giving, if we remove it, we would be removing the element of surprise? Not to worry, there is a sustainable solution: Furoshiki!


What is Furoshiki?

Furoshiki is the name given to any piece of cloth that is used to wrap gifts. It also refers to the act of wrapping goods with cloth instead of wrapping paper. The term originated in Japan in 1136 B.C., stemming from two separate words, which are “Furo” meaning “Bath”  and “Shiki” meaning “To Spread”. Back in those times, Japanese people would wrap their kimonos in furoshiki cloth at bathhouses so as not to confuse it with others’. However, it didn’t take long for the tradition to spread and soon people were using furoshiki to wrap a number of things such as food and gifts. Furoshiki has become popular all over the world in recent years as an alternative to wrapping paper and plastic bags.


What is Furoshiki Made From?

When furoshiki first originated, the material that it was made from signified social status – for example, silk furoshiki was used by high-ranking people such as the imperial family and generals. It can be made with many kinds of fabrics, such as cotton, polyester, rayon, silk, and nylon. Furoshiki fabric no longer denotes social status, nowadays it is moreso an indication of its purpose. One may choose a fabric that is the best fit for the occasion at hand. Cotton is a popular choice for furoshiki as it is durable and easy to work with. Silk is often used for special occasions or when giving an expensive gift, however, it is very delicate and should not be used to wrap heavy objects.


Is Colour Important?

Colour is the first thing you see when you are handed a gift, so it is important to choose a colour that represents the occasion. Obviously different colours mean many different things for everyone so choosing a furoshiki colour is a very personal thing. However, if you are having trouble deciding, here are some examples of furoshiki colours and their typical meanings:

  • RED: Often used to wrap gifts offered at happy and monumental celebratory events such as weddings, house warmings, graduations and annual custom gifts.
  • YELLOW: Similar to red, yellow or gold furoshiki is often used for joyous occasions. Yellow symbolises happiness, optimism and courage and is perfect for weddings and annual custom gifts.
  • GREEN: Green symbolises eternal life, freshness, youthfulness and fertility and is well suited to celebrations of life such as birthdays.
  • BLUE: According to the Japanese tradition, blue is a soothing colour that represents everyday life, purity and cleanliness. Therefore it is perfect for everyday use and for running errands.
  • PURPLE: Many years ago, purple ink was extremely scarce and only very wealthy people wore purple fabric. As a result of this, purple is often used for expressing gratitude to others through expensive gifts.
  • WHIITE: White represents cleanliness, purity, harmony and new beginnings, making it the perfect colour for offerings at christenings and weddings.


Typical Uses For Furoshiki:

Aside from gift wrapping, furoshiki can be used for many other things, such as: 

  • Wrap lunch box for school, work or picnics
  • Safe wrapping for bottles
  • Wrap for groceries instead of a shopping bag
  • Wrap for personal items instead of a handbag


Furoshiki Wrapping Techniques:

There are countless ways to wrap objects with furoshiki. Let’s take a look at some of the most useful techniques!

Furoshiki wrapping techniques

Furoshiki Wrapping Techniques

Furoshiki wrapping techniques

Image Credits: Invaluable.com

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