The year I fell in love with furoshiki

Read about Kris’s holiday adventure into sustainable giftwrap and zero waste:
According to the EPA, from Thanksgiving to New Years Day, Americans throw away 25% more waste into the landfill. Left over tofurky, reindeer wrapping paper, shiny red bows and holiday cards all add up to and additional 1 million tons a week. The cards alone are enough to fill a football field 10 stories high.

That’s a lot of trash. Or unrecovered resources.

The last three months, I’ve been researching, writing and experimenting all things waste management in preparation for the Sustainable Business Council’s Moving Missoula Towards Zero Waste campaign during the month of April. I’ve been tasked with providing content for a 40 page zero waste guide; producing an hour long webinar on how to plan an event using zero waste; and creating animations starring SBC’s Sustainabee to introduce the Missoula community to zero waste.

I’m knee deep in zero waste. So it makes sense that this holiday season, I would fall in love furoshiki.

IMG_2325Furoshiki is the traditional Japanese art of wrapping cloth. More than 1,200 years old, furoshiki (furo means bath and shiki means spread) was first used for safekeeping of the Emperor’s valuables. Later, it became popular as carrying satchels for personal belongings at public bathhouses. Spread out on the floor like a bath matt, the bather would undress, allowing the clothes to fall onto the cloth. After a few folds and twists, the matt would transform to carry the bather’s belongings.

The square shaped bundles became so popular that soon merchants used furoshiki to transport goods, claiming to be able to wrap and carry just about any shape or size. And the first eco-friendly bag was born.

Furoshiki is a beautiful and reusable alternative to single use wrapping paper. The single piece of cloth can be folded in a variety of ways to hold, carry, wrap just about anything, from a basic gift box, to a wine bottle and even wrap a bouquet of flowers.

IMG_8335This holiday season, I helped the SBC furoshiki for the Missoula community, offering the sustainable giftwrap at several craft and holiday events. The most challenging gift I wrapped was a pair of dinosaur tail bookends. I think it turned out okay. She came back later with a sweatshirt, a candle and dog sweater for me to furoshiki.

A new tradition has started. No more single-use gift-wrap for me.

DSC_0483Kris Heitkamp has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah and a Masters of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Journalism from the University of Montana. As a freelance writer, journalist and researcher, she has over a decade of experience working for corporate America. She completed an internship with National Geographic Books and Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C.. Kris is serving with the Sustainable Business Council, educating the Missoula community on how to live more sustainably.”

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