Furoshiki style: Replacing gift wrap with reusable fabric | KEYE Austin - Green Right Now
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Dec 172008

By John DeFore

Wait! Before you run those last-minute holiday errands, consider: Do you really need to replenish that gift-wrap supply?

Even folks who reject the option some of our Depression-trained grandparents embraced — save up the Sunday newspaper’s funny pages for a colorful and waste-free wrap — may find packaging options that don’t require buying roll after roll of glossy new paper.

In Japan, where packaging of even everyday goods is often exquisite, people have for centuries been knotting gifts up in beautiful cloth that can be reused by the recipient later. The practice is known as furoshiki, and while many specialists in furoshiki-geared cloth have Japanese-only web sites (click here for an English look at what we’re missing), others happily make their wares (which may be adorned with lovely scenic paintings or intricate geometric patterns) available to Westerners as well.

Obviously, you needn’t buy special furoshiki cloth. Do-it-yourself instructions and sample projects abound online, and even the Japanese government has issued a downloadable set of instructions for tying simple shapes.

Not surprisingly, American entrepreneurs are connecting the dots between these traditions and the commercial possibilities of all that is eco-friendly.

Korean-born Patricia Lee, for instance, has rebranded the furoshiki concept as the “BOBO wrapping scarf” and offers a line of cloths at prices ranging up to $48. Her cloths, which can double as scarves or continue onward as wrap, come with wrapping instructions, such as the one pictured that can tie up a couple wine bottles for a quick, appealing hostess gift.

Lee’s cloths tend to be a good deal bolder than their overseas inspirations — hot pink paired with paisley, anyone? — which might be all the more reason to root through your closet in search of that ripped dress that was too lovely to discard but too damaged to repair.

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