Zero waste wrapping with kerchiefs and furoshiki

Filed in Blog by on June 1, 2009 8 Comments
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zero waste wrapping with kerchiefs and furoshiki

zero waste wrapping with kerchiefs and furoshiki

As I mentioned last week, it was my Birthday over the weekend and Mr and Little Miss Green surpassed themselves with zero waste gift wrap.

Wrapping gifts in paper is one of my soapbox moments. It’s all about the eye candy and not much about the environment. We waste stacks of trees and resources with glitzy paper for a 20 second fix; most of the wrapping paper ends up in the landfill.

Anyway, we had none of that at Chez Green.


You see, Id’ been talking to Hugo from the Green Giving Company about his Kerchiefs.

The idea for starting the Green Giving Company came about one Christmas, when Hugo was looking around all the waste paper created. According to WRAP, at Christmas time alone we produce 11,000 tons of waste just from wrapping paper. Hugo figured there must be a better and less wasteful way to wrap presents.

His research lead him to Japan and the art of wrapping gifts in fabric (furoshiki). Hugo found a few places selling wrapping fabric over here, but they used traditional Japanese prints. He decided to bring the idea to the UK and make it more relevant by using fabrics that might be more interesting and relevant to consumers here.

The Kerchief was born!


Kerchiefs are pieces of fabric that when tied and folded can be used to wrap up absolutely anything, plus you can keep on using them again and again and again therefore reducing waste, carbon emissions and money!

Not content with reducing rubbish and giving the landfill a helping hand, all of Hugo’s products are handmade and the Kerchiefs are produced by a women’s education and enterprise project in East London.

In addition, in order to be even more environmentally friendly The Green giving Company has partnered with TRAID, a charity dedicated to reducing textile waste and funding poverty prevention projects around the world. Traid kerchiefs are made using recycled fabrics which will notch up your zero waste credentials no end and provide you with unique wrapping fabric.

Zero waste packaging

And that’s not all. My kerchiefs arrived wrapped in newspaper. So I had a free read, caught up with all the news whilst opening my goodies and had no pesky packaging to landfill.

Awarded Sunday Times Green business idea of the week, there are heaps of creative and beautiful ideas for wrapping with your kerchiefs on this page. As Hugo points out, once you’ve mastered them, the techniques remain the same regardless of whether you’re wrapping a tiny box or a pony! Hmmm, I wonder how many kerchiefs you’d need for the latter!

For those of you who are all fingers and thumbs and get through a reel of sellotape to pack a book, take a look at this video and see just how straightforward it is to give your gifts a little of the zero waste touch. As you can see from my photo; Mr green and Little Miss Green mastered it in no time at all! I just LOVED my yellow gingham handbag!

What about you? Have you mastered the art of furoshiki? Does it appeal to you or do you have another zero waste way of wrapping gifts?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Furoshiki and its UK development are excellent ways to give Zero Waste presents with the reusability of the packaging foremost. I have used this type once for a Christmas gift. Think of the waste saving if all such presents are suitably cloth wrapped.

    The stylised Japanese practice is transferable to our culture but I would use some of their distinctive fabrics/designs as recognition for its origin. The UK type will also be a worthwhile purchase to encourage the trend countrywide.

  2. Kira says:

    I love the idea of wrapping in fabric and I’ve saved a few tutorials to make my own little bags and wraps for next Christmas out of fabric remnants and my fairly large fabric stash. The gingham ones are lovely too and I must learn how to do that handbag wrap!

  3. I haven’t yet tried this idea, cost being one constraint, especially if giving to someone who won’t think about the re-use idea.

    But I do re-use brown packing paper which has been used in my Ethical Superstore orders and have added some extra bits to those or for the wedding present I gave last month I bought recycled fair trade wrapping paper.

    I do think though for the presents given in house this will be a great idea.

  4. Pure Mothers says:

    I just found you through Twitter and I love your blog! I have been a fan of Beth at here in CA, US. I tallied my plastic for one week (one of my blog posts) and I am eliminating everyday. I recently wrapped my mom’s birthday gifts 2 weeks ago furoshiki style. It was a huge hit! I am giving up plastic tape and using Furoshiki from now on.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, I agree about the Japanese design adding interest and a unique factor to wrapping, but I understand it is not for all. The more I think about it, the more wasteful paper seems. I have lots of it from years ago which I shall continue to use, but once it has gone I will resist buying more. I’m totally hooked on the furoshiki now and learned how to do the rabbit yesterday!

    @Kira: Hi Kira, the handbag wrap is so simple; have a go and let me know if you get stuck and I’ll put up a tutorial. I would love to make little bags, but my sewing skills are non existent; I really should try and get over that! Would love to see some pics of your creations.

    @maisie dalziel: Hi Maisie, cost is a consideration, but I was looking at duvet covers in the charity shop today for £2 and figuring how many furoshiki wraps I could make from them. I think even I could manage to cut and stitch four seams!
    Brown paper can look lovely; and I use newspaper tied with rafia too.

    @Pure Mothers: Hi Pure Mothers; I’m so glad you found us and thank you for taking the time to comment. Beth is wonderful; a true inspiration and has done so much to spread the message about reducing plastic usage. Glad the furoshiki was a hit with your Mum and well done on the plastic tally; I’ll go and have a read about it 🙂

  6. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Thanks for agreeing with the original source, Mrs Green, Of course we will need to be careful who gets the wrapping since they will become collectors items. Maybe we should put an RTS sticker on, with an sae as encouragement.

    I have some paper too Birthday and Christmas types but these can be kept as momentos of past wastefulness.

  7. Mich says:


    Larger furoshiki are also excellent to use as bags – a shoulder bag, grocery bag, handbag, book bag, wine bottle carrier, yoga mat bag, picnic bag (and, unwrapped, as a picnic mat) … just unfold and reknot as the mood takes you. Please have a look here if you’d like some more ideas.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Mich: Hi Mich, lovely to see you on the site and thanks for the link to your blog. I’m totally inspired by your creativity. I love many of your ideas and will be a regular visitor to your site.

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