IT'S A WRAP!
Traditional Cloth Used to Combat Climate Change
(October 3, 2007)
A square cloth that came into use over 1,000 years ago is basking in the limelight as a tool to combat global warming. Called furoshiki, these cloths can be used to wrap things of any shape and have even been known to transform into purses or handbags. Compact when folded and great for repeated use, the furoshiki is a perfect example of the three Rs of environmental conservation: reduce, reuse, and recycle. More than just a great way to wrap up your belongings, the furoshiki also epitomizes the Japanese tradition of gift wrapping.
The Face of Wrap Culture
Until about 30 years ago, furoshiki could be found in almost any household, used as shopping bags or for moving and storing objects. The cloths can be made from a variety of materials, including silk, cotton, and synthetic fiber, and designs range from the ornate to the ordinary depending on the intended use. Furoshiki are near perfect squares typically measuring 50 cm or 68 cm across, though sizes vary greatly.
A Tool to Combat Global Warming
Despite their long history, furoshiki are a less common sight nowadays due to the prevalence of plastic and paper bags. However, their benefits are being reevaluated as environmental problems escalate. Using a furoshiki instead of a 10-gram polyethylene plastic bag prevents 61 grams of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere, for example, making the reusable furoshiki a potential trump card in the battle against climate change. As campaigns to bolster furoshiki usage spring up around Japan, cloths made from recycled plastic bottles are even making an appearance. Trendy designs have become more common, and the cloths are even being used in interior decoration as wall hangings and cushion covers. Now especially popular among young people, it appears that furoshiki culture is entering a new golden age.
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