Gift Wrapping With TextilesThe holiday season always produces a flood of gifts, brought on in a tsunami of wrapping paper. All that colorful packaging sets a festive tone, but most ends up in the garbage so as we don’t drown in it. Might there be a way to stem this wasteful tide?

Enter furoshiki, or decorative wrapping fabric. Back in Edo-era Japan, you might have bundled up your clothes with it while you took a dip in the public bath; today, you can rely on it to make your presents presentable. Instead of getting dumped in the trash afterward, furoshiki can be used again, or serve in a variety of other roles, from fashion accessory to hand towel. It’s like giving two gifts in one.

Your local fabric store should be able to get you started with material, or you can visit to peruse an online selection of finished options. That’s not to say you can’t dabble in more experimental possibilities, either — a few years ago in Japan, the Minister of the Environment rolled out her own brand of furoshiki made from recycled PET bottles.

Once you’ve got your furoshiki picked out, you’ll need to learn how to fold it. YouTube offers a number of video tutorials, and provides instructional illustrations alongside its wares. You can also pick up a copy of Chizuko Morita’s book “Gift Wrapping with Textiles: Stylish Ideas from Japan” for more comprehensive information.

And with that — happy wrapping!

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