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How to make gift wrapping more sustainable (and beautiful)

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How to make gift wrapping more sustainable (and beautiful)
Written by Gifted Local Founder, Helen Robinson

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of months in Japan. It’s a fascinating place and while it's a long journey, especially with young children, and flights are obviously terrible for the environment, spending time in Japan will forever change how you think about a lot of things. For instance, you don't see much litter in Japan. In fact it's so scarce I made a game with my eldest to 'spot the litter'. Initially it was doubly odd that there was no litter because there were also no public bins. How can this be the Londoner asks? I usually can't walk outside without stumbling over rubbish strewn along the street - and there are bins everywhere! Well it's very simple. The Japanese respect their environment to such an extent, and recycling rules are so strict, that any rubbish they do have goes into a bag and is taken home with them to dispose of.

It's this mindset that is championing the use of Japanese Eco Wraps. 'Furoshiki', as they're otherwise known, were originally used to bundle clothes when visiting public baths, but are now also used to wrap gifts in a thoughtful and more sustainable way.

Tamakurya Boutique, owned by Maurya Brady & Tak Ledger from Tottenham, are one of Gifted Local's founding businesses and are passionate about increasing awareness of Furoshiki in the UK. They both have Japanese heritage and are bringing up their children via the ‘Mottainai’ principle which simply means "not to waste".

In their own words:

“The Mottainai principle is the feeling of regret for a missed opportunity, to waste a resource or walk past something that could be valuable in some other way. 

Tamakuyra Boutique, owned by Maurya Brady & Tak Ledger from Tottenham

It links to the idea that objects have a spirit or a ‘kami’ and this interconnects humans with nature and encourages us to be mindful of our actions and minimise waste. This frugality can be said to lead to enlightenment.

Furoshiki are reusable and an eco-friendly alternative to gift-wrapping paper or other disposable materials, which are often not recyclable and disposed of in landfill or by incineration.

A Furoshiki is a single square piece of cloth which, when folded in ways that we teach, becomes a functional and adaptable tool for wrapping, carrying and storing a wide-variety of objects; from delicate glass bottles and gifts, to books and larger household objects." 

When I first heard about eco wraps it immediately struck a chord as my family have a tradition of re-using birthday cards. I have given my parents the same card every year since I was about 15 and it’s very precious to re-read the annual messages and then add a new one. Eco wraps are essentially the same idea for wrapping paper - the gift wrap becomes part of the story and journey of the gift and isn’t just immediately discarded. Traditionally the gift giver takes back the Furoshiki, it isn't kept by the recipient, however I quite like the idea of making the Furoshiki an additional gift that the receiver can then pass on.  

Who knows, maybe one day you'll receive a gift wrapped in the same Furoshiki you gifted years before. If you like the idea of starting your own family tradition and want to minimise wrapping waste, especially with Christmas fast approaching, then look no further.

Maurya from Tamakurya Boutique has put together some exclusive Gifted Local masterclasses on how to use the traditional Furoshiki techniques to wrap items up. Check out her videos below:

Masterclass 1: How to wrap a wine bottle using Furoshiki

Masterclass 2: How to create a simple carrier bag using one piece of material

Masterclass 3: How to wrap a present

Masterclass 4: How to wrap two wine bottles as a present


Learn more about how and why Gifted Local promote and support Tamakurya Boutique and other local sellers or Shop Now