Friday, December 10, 2010

Furoshiki: The Gift Wrap that Keeps on Giving

Every fall my children’s school sells wrapping paper as a fundraiser. In past years I’d buy yards and yards of dancing reindeer, glittery snowflakes, and other festive patterns, complete with matching ribbons, bows, and name tags. When the holidays arrived, I loved placing perfectly coordinated and accessorized packages beneath my tree.

My conscious always nagged me a bit Christmas morning, after the flurry of opening, when I collected the remains of my gift-wrapping handiwork. I hated adding mounds of cardboard, crumpled paper, and curly ribbon to my garbage can and recycling bins. Still, creating beautiful Christmas packages was a holiday tradition. It was only once a year, I told myself. To make myself feel a bit greener, I started buying gift wrap made from recycled paper. But the post-Christmas paper carnage still tugged at my environmental sensibilities.

Then last Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me a gift wrapped in a beautiful silk scarf tied in a clever knot. “It’s furoshiki,” she explained, “a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth.” In Japan, people use furoshiki to package and transport everything from lunches to birthday presents. Similar to origami, the cloths can be folded several different ways to produce a variety of looks. No throwing out shredded scrapes once the party is over. Furoshiki can be used over and over. Simple. Elegant. Environmental. My present-wrapping problems were solved.

This year, I did not buy a single inch of wrapping paper. (I’ll find another way to support my children’s school.) Instead, I’ve purchased some festive fabrics and I’m practicing my knots. When my family unwraps their gifts Christmas morning, no need for that extra garbage bin. In fact, if every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. (Sierra Club) Try using furoshiki yourself this holdiay season; it's the gift wrap that keeps on giving.

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