Furoshiki – Zero Waste Fabric Wrapping

Dec 14, 2020 | by Maia Welbel

furoshiki folding

Furoshiki folding GIF by Hawnuh Lee.

I love giving gifts. I keep notes in my phone for jotting down gift ideas and get so much joy out of finding the perfect thing for a specific person in my life. I’m also a big believer in giving gifts any time of year — whenever I come across something that makes me go ‘Oh [insert loved one] would LOVE this!’ or just get the urge to send someone a fun surprise. Where I get stuck though, is the wrapping. I’ve never been one to tape perfectly creased corners or curl ribbons with that fancy scissor technique. Nor do I like purchasing materials that I know will likely be tossed in the trash once their contents are revealed. Furoshiki, Japanese fabric wrapping, is my solution to this problem. It’s simple, elegant, and completely zero waste. Plus the giftee gets the bonus of keeping a beautiful furoshiki cloth!

The word Furoshiki refers to a square of sturdy fabric used for carrying and wrapping anything from lunch boxes to holiday presents. You can purchase cloths specifically intended as furoshiki (see: these beautiful ones from Christy Dawn made with upcycled deadstock fabric), but using any spare cloth in your home — a scarf you never wear, a nice tea towel, or scrap fabric from a DIY project — is just as effective. 

Tips from Ran of @zerowaste.japan

Being new to the practice myself, I thought I should defer to someone with more experience for this furoshiki how-to. And who better than Ran of @zerowaste.japan herself to help us out here? Ran lives in Japan with her two daughters, and generously shared some furoshiki wisdom as someone who’s been using this technique her whole life. 

How common is furoshiki in Japan? 

Furoshiki is less common nowadays due to plastic bags in Japan, but there is at least one furoshiki in every home. My daughters learned furoshiki in daycare when they were around 3 years old. They learned how to wrap their spare clothes!

What types of fabric do you prefer to use?

Cotton or linen. I also suggest using a large scarf or pillowcase as furoshiki because it could be of use afterwards to the receiver.

What do you use furoshiki for other than wrapping gifts?

I recommend using furoshiki for grocery bags, carrying bento lunch boxes, and for easy, organized packing when you travel.

Do you have any tips for someone who is new to the technique for getting the hang of it?

There are lots of tutorials on YouTube you can check out! 

And lots of ways to wrap a furoshiki cloth depending on the shape of the item and the cloth itself, but the basic method is this:

  1. Lay the fabric out flat
  2. Place the item near one corner
  3. Fold the corner over the item and roll toward the opposite corner until you have one long wrap 
  4. Flip the wrap so the loose corner is up, then fold the long sides in and make a knot

Watch Mari Kondo do this technique here!

Thanks Ran!

Happy wrapping from our closed loop homes to yours!


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