Many households use a larger amount of paper than usual at this time of year, and it doesn’t always get recycled. We have tried several ways to reduce the amount of wrapping paper we use. First up: the fabric gift bag.
For these to be really useful, you would need a lot of different sizes. I find that the bags I have are often either too narrow or far too big for the object I want to wrap.
We also re-use wrapping paper. There is a large drawer in our basement that contains wrapping paper and used boxes and decorative shopping bags in assorted sizes. This method still gradually uses up the paper, but it does decrease the amount of new wrapping paper we buy each year.
I am also rather stingy in the amount of paper I use. If you a wrapping a small object that is fairly close to square and not very thick —a desktop calendar, a slim volume of poetry— a square of paper that will fit may be smaller in area than the normal rectangle one might use. You need a square that has enough paper at the corners of the object to allow for the depth of the object plus a little extra. (Bookbinders will already know about this.)
Fold the sides in first, and tape down. Next fold the top and bottom. You need to tuck a bit of the folded edge down over the top or bottom edge, and re-fold the edges beyond the object at a slight angle.
This wrapping can be held in place with two small pieces of tape, which is another plus.
Although paper is still the best wrapping for items that have to go in the mail, I think I will make some furoshiki. I have some squares already torn. Now I need to hem them.
Apparently the Japanese government is trying to encourage people to replace paper with furoshiki, as an environmental act. The The Ministry of the Environment has even posted wrapping instructions on-line.
If you want a printable copy of the above graphic (converted to black lines on a white background), you will find a jpg here.
There is also a great resource page from the University of Kansas Libraries. Designed for teachers as a resource for lesson planning, it has lots of info about sizes and fabric types, as well as several videos showing how to wrap things with a furoshiki.
If you don’t want to make your own, there are furoshiki available on line. You don’t need to order from Japan however. There are lots of bandannas available. With these large silk-screened cotton ones from Hemlock, the wrapping could be part of the present