I discovered furoshiki a couple years ago. As a minimalist, I use it all the time. Forget about packing cubes while travelling, I bundle with silk scarves. A gym bag to lug all my gear for dance class? Nope, a couple quick knots in my 1-metre-square fabric and it’s covered.
What is furoshiki?
Furoshiki is a Japanese style of fabric wrapping, originally used to bundle clothes in the public baths. Now people use it for bundling, wrapping gifts, carrying books and bottles, and decoration. Check out wikipedia for more history.
Two things: re-use and environment.
Minimalists abhor uni-task items. That is, we don’t like to own things which are used for only one purpose. The packing cubes I mentioned above are a prime example. They have become popular in the last few years because they simplify suitcase organisation. But they are useless beyond travel. A cloth can be used to wrap like items, and cinched to compress them if needed. The same cloth can be re-used in many ways: as a book bag, scarf, napkin, backpack, blanket for the kids, wine bottle wrap, shopping bag, handbag, neck or head wrap for warmth, cape for sun protection, makeshift sitting mat and more.
Re-use saves the environment because you don’t need to purchase (so nobody needs to manufacture) bags specific to the task. But even better, you can use furoshiki instead of plastic bags (or even the reusable cloth bags) when shopping. In fact, the environment minister of Japan began promoting furoshiki to the general population for this one reason: to cut back on plastic shopping bags.
The stylish minimalist in me has one more point. Your furoshiki cloth is in your colour scheme and looks great no matter what you’re carrying! Plus you can reuse the cloth as a neck or head wrap for warmth (or a makeshift sitting mat) if needed and still look fantastic. Saves you cash while looking great.
How do you do it
First you need the cloth. There are beautiful and functional styles available in every price range. You can buy online or make your own by going to the local fabric shop and buying a metre or so. Even if you can’t sew, you can cut the material to size and leave the edges raw, depending on the type of fabric. I use this unsewn option as well as square silk scarves.
Once you have the furoshiki, follow the simple pictoral instructions for tying. Pictures and videos are incredibly helpful, moreso than I would be by trying to explain it to you in writing. So below are a couple links to get you started. You can always search for furoshiki on the internet for plenty of examples. If you’re so inclined, learn a few boating knots so they are easier to undo. I ruined one scarf with a double knot that I left in for months.
- Techniques (website)
- Gift wrapping 1 and wrapping 2 (video)
- One of my favourites, The reusable grocery bag (video) Tie the knots off-centred for a more comfortable carry
- Another favourite, shoulder/handbags (video)
- Backpack (video)
- Home decor cushion cover (video)
- Gift wrapping 1 and wrapping 2 (videos)
- Boating knots (website)