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Upcycling Series: The Ultimate Guide to Furoshiki Wrapping

November 30, 2022

If you're looking for eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas to cut back on trash, we have the sustainable options to get you started! While there are plenty of things you can do to reduce holiday waste, opting for DIY can elevate your home in a unique way for the holidays without breaking the bank.

Since childhood, my house was the kind of house that will make use of every available material, whether it’s an old t-shirt being used for wiping tables or saving gifted wrapping paper to use on a new gift. The idea behind re-using a good enough item is a constant in some households. Growing up, it’s much more common to hear the word ‘don’t throw that away’ even on a fabric that has yarn strings sticking out from all around it. Nowadays, when you can see the tiniest stain on a top, you would easily get rid of it. The availability of new clothes/fabrics might play a part in influencing this habit as more and more we are being told that there are so many options for clothing so it must mean that there’s plenty of fabric to go around. The idea behind this results in a ton of textile ending up as waste.

Each year, I’ve been trying to find more and better ways to transition the household into producing less waste. This to me means reducing unnecessary purchases and making the most out of all the things I have at home. Coming to the holiday season, I came across one of the most useful wrapping technique to wrap my gifts without having the need to shop for new wrapping papers, which, let’s face it, will just end up being thrown away.

What is Furoshiki?

Furoshiki is a square-shaped Japanese traditional wrapping cloth that is eco-friendly and mostly used for wrapping gift, carrying goods or just as a décoration. The idea that giving someone an unwrapped item is considered impolite and deeply rooted in Japan. The cloth that an object was wrapped in was referred to as “tsutsumi”, meaning “package” or “present.” It was primarily used to wrap important goods and treasures found in Japanese temples. Today, there are many different Furoshiki styles and uses including:

  • wrapping gift boxes
  • a bag for carrying things
  • wrapping wine bottles or flowers
  • a scarf or belt
  • protecting an item
  • a lunch bag (especially for bento boxes)

Eco-Friendly Wrapping

Aside from being a more green alternative to paper wrapping, one of the main reasons to embrace the art of Furoshiki is saving money. It’s very simple to use an old scarf or cut out an unused piece of cloth and turn it into a unique gift wrap. More so, the fabric can act as part of the gift as well. In Japan, it has been known that the art of Furoshiki is taken very seriously because presentation is very important to them particularly when used to wrap a gift. When a person receives a gift wrapped in Furoshiki cloth, it would be customary for the giver to unwrap the cloth in front of the receiver and present the gift.

It’s estimated that the UK throws away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year. [1]  Not all wrapping paper is suitable for recycling, especially those containing a shiny metal or glitter variety. You can check this by scrunching the paper, and if it stays in a ball shape, it should be recyclable.

Quick Facts

  • Over 83km2 of wrapping paper in the UK ends up in bins.
  • UK residents send around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging (equivalent to the weight of 650,000 reindeer) to landfills instead of being recycled. [1]
  • Instead of being recycled, 1 billion Christmas cards are also put in the bin
  • Research by Greenpeace found that 1kg of wrapping paper is responsible for more than 3kg of CO2 emissions during its production process. This is primarily due to the 1.3kg of coal needed to manufacture it. [2]
  • With the use of sticky tape on wrapping paper, it’s estimated that the UK uses a million rolls of tape on Christmas eve alone.

Getting Started

Depending on the size, shape, and quantity of your item, Furoshiki provides a numerous amount of technique you can use for the variety of item that needs wrapping. The process of wrapping your gift can be the most fun as there is no right or wrong way to do them. Here is a few basic techniques you can follow to start your Furoshiki journey:


  1. GWP Group (2022). https://www.gwp.co.uk/guides/christmas-packaging-facts/
  2. Business Leader (2018). https://www.businessleader.co.uk/the-dark-environmental-impacts-of-our-christmas-season/
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