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Furoshiki: the future of gift wrapping

While it’s one of those traditions that’s hard to give up, there is no doubt that wrapping paper is a complete waste… not only is it expensive, and often not reusable, it also causes a collective mountain of packaging and a huge headache for the city’s recycling teams as it is mostly low grade paper and often mixed with plastic and glitter, therefore, best burned rather than pulped. And that’s why Bristol Waste Company no longer collect wrapping paper for recycling.

So if Christmas is a ‘little different this year’ then maybe it’s high time we ring the changes and look at some alternatives. Enter furoshiki.

Furoshiki Holiday Wrapping Cloth from Anthropologie; £18

Furoshiki is a type of Japanese wrapping cloth traditionally used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. In recent years, the tradition has evolved into a popular practice in cultures around the world as an environmentally friendly way to carry bottles, food, and everyday necessities – as well as a modern alternative to gift-wrapping.

As many of us have more time on our hands, wrapping paper is no longer being collected and sustainable alternatives are becoming more widely available, why not take advantage of this opportunity to put a little spin on the presentation of your festive gifts?

We particularly love Anthopologie’s Furoshiki Holiday Wrapping Cloths – elegant, beautiful and simple wrapping material that can be reused again and again – check them out here.

And enjoy a quick 80-second video demonstrating how to wrap the perfect present:

We’ve also compiled a list of other alternatives to wrapping paper:

Wicker baskets

Everyone loves a gift basket – so instead of hiding your gift, display it proudly in a wicker basket. Local thrift shops, charity shops and some of much-loved independents usually have piles of baskets in all shapes and sizes.

Vintage scarves

Using scarves to wrap your presents is a great way to stay eco-friendly this Christmas. Either upcycle one of your old scarves, browse local charity and thrift shops, or head to the high street and let the wrapping become part of the gift.

Old calendar pages

This year’s calendars will be heading straight to the recycling bin on 1 January so why not reuse the paper. It’s often colourful, decorative – sometimes humorous – and it sure beats tossing them away. Plus, it’s not like they got much use this year anyway.

Other papers

Parchment paper is light and white, yet opaque enough that the recipient can’t see through it. As much as possible, reuse paper you already have and decorate it with stencils or colourful duct tape.

Children’s artwork

If you have young kids, then you probably have artwork ready available. Why not put some of these original paintings to work by turning them into wrapping paper!


The humble box mustn’t be overlooked. With the amount of online shopping that happens over the festive period, there’s a good chance you have a stash of boxes waiting to be recycled. This year, instead of throwing them away, colour them with paint, dress them up with fabric ribbons or decorate them with personal photos of you and the recipient. The photos can be framed afterwards too!

Paper napkins

Paper napkins are especially good for wrapping up delicate items like jewellery and this is a great way to recycle unused napkins that would usually never see daylight again.

Sheet music

It’s perfect for the festive period and great for your musical friend. Pretty to look at, and, let’s face it, you were never going to pick up the recorder again anyway.


We’ve all got some old posters knocking about. Put them to use as themed wrapping paper and, if wrapped carefully, they can be framed and reused!