Wrapping gifts, packages, and everyday items with fabric is nothing new. This concept has been around for a while, and its time we honor the earth by returning to a more sustainable gift wrapping method.
Rethinking Holidays & Waste
“Waste” isn’t the first word we tend to associate with the warm and fuzzy feelings that the holidays brings, but it should be. “Rethink” is my favorite word when it comes to intentionally making lifestyle changes to live more sustainably. Our understanding and mindset have to grow and evolve in order to truly comprehend our environmental impact. That understanding should be followed by taking action to lessen the negative impacts of our daily choices. This is especially important during holiday seasons.
In this day & age, holidays are marketed to encourage shopping. The more shopping we do, the more waste we generate. And we don’t stop at shopping for gifts alone. The gifts have to be packaged in a cute way in order to keep them a surprise. Gift wrapping is its own industry – department stores set up entire departments and employ new people in order to wrap up the newly purchased items. Despite all of the effort that goes into making the it look perfect, the reality is that gift wrap is just pretty trash. Most wrapping paper can’t be recycled. Even if most wrapping paper was able to be recycled, statistics show that as a nation, we do not recycle the majority of that which is able to be recycled.
Why not avoid this wasteful gift wrapping conundrum altogether?
Quick Facts about Holiday Waste
- “Wrapping paper is often dyed, laminated and/or contains non-paper additives such as gold and silver coloured shapes, glitter, plastics etc which cannot be recycled.” – Recycle Now
- “Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, American household waste increases by more than 25 percent.” – EPA
- “If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.” – Stanford via Use Less Stuff
What is Furoshiki?
A traditional part of the Japanese way of life, furoshiki are squares of fabric used for carrying and storing things. They range in size, from a small handkerchief to a large Santa Claus sack.KonMari
Furoshiki is utilitarian. It takes simple, everyday items and puts them to work in new ways. The results are simple, minimal, and beautiful.
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Second Hand Fabrics for Sustainable Gift Wrapping
My favorite finds for furoshiki wrapping are regular household items. They always have beautiful and varied patterns and prints, and many especially reflective of the holiday season. I have thrifted these for myself, but you may already have them at home!
- curtains (fold in half and sew side or tie it down with twine to cover a big gift)
- square napkins sewn together
- oversized square scarves
Sustainable Gift Wrapping with Furoshiki
After you’ve chosen sustainable gifts for your loved ones, give the gift of less waste by using the furoshiki wrapping and carrying technique. Check out these videos to learn how to wrap gifts in the furoshiki style for yourself.
More Sustainable Gift Wrapping Ideas
- Zero Waste Gift Wrap Ideas by Eco Friendly Tips
- 15 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas by Mindful of the Home
- Eco-Friendly Guide for Christmas Wrapping Paper by The Dharma Trails
- Zero & Less Waste Gift Wrapping Guide by The Quirky Environmentalist
Normalize Sustainable Gift Wrapping
So you’ve given or received a gift with sustainable packaging. What now?
- Talk to your family and friends and explain why you used the sustainable gift wrapping technique.
- Encourage them to try it for themselves.
- Ask if they will reuse the cloth in some way, whether to wrap gifts or as an everyday cloth at home, or as a scarf.
- If they don’t plan to use it, let them know that you can take it back home to use on a gift for someone else.
Asking for gift wrapping back seems like an awkward request in our society, but it should be normalized. We shouldn’t fear unknown etiquette rules that perpetuate wastefulness. If someone has no intention of reusing the cloth gift wrapping that you presented their gift inside of, that cloth will either go on unused, or donated and possibly sent to a landfill. If you can give it more life and avoid that wasteful trajectory, you should most definitely act on that.