Introduction: Paper, Plastic, or Furoshiki?

Picture of Paper, Plastic, or Furoshiki?

Plastic bags are being banned almost everywhere now, due to petroleum costs and landfill issues. Los Angeles just announced a ban on ALL disposable shopping bags... both paper and plastic. The Minister of Ecology in Japan is making an effort to spread the Japanese art of Furoshiki, which is an Origami-like means of carrying virtually anything with a simple square of thin cloth, is easy to do, and has been used by the Japanese for centuries. See for yourself! Watch an Introductory Video

Step 1: The Basic Bag

Picture of The Basic Bag

This is the simplest of means, which shows how you can carry a bag of various groceries.

Step 2: The Shoulder Carry

Picture of The Shoulder Carry

This is a variation of the basic bag that allows the same amount of groceries to be carried over a shoulder... a more ergonomic approach that utilizes your muscles in a healthier manner.

Step 3: The Melon Carry

Picture of The Melon Carry

This is a tremendously amazing demonstration of how distribution of a heavy weight can allow a very thin silk cloth to hold something like a watermelon. The video shows me demonstrating this technique with a 16 lb bowling ball...

Step 4: Decorative Furoshiki

Picture of Decorative Furoshiki

One of the coolest aspects of Furoshiki is that it's not only functional, but decorative as well. You can wrap all sorts of gifts in unique ways that will impress people... and the "gift wrap" can be reused. Imagine never having to buy wrapping paper again, or the unique look of your gifts under the Christmas tree. You're only limited by your imagination.

Here's a great example of how you can wrap a pair of wine bottles. It looks amazing AND it protects the glass from breaking.

Step 5: Go for It!

Picture of Go for It!

I admit, i was a bit hesitant about trying this out at the supermarket, but what happened was quite amazing. Many people asked me about it and thought it was great! It's definitely more interesting than the bulky canvas bags that stores sell.

Again, I invite you to watch the video if you'd care to see it in action:

Watch an Introductory Video


Yard Sale Dale (author)2012-11-08

That's pretty good for economic gift wrap. Thanks! Google Bagtheban if you like the plastic bags and find them useful for many things. I save all mine, and I recycle them, mainly by filling them with plastic recyclables and turning them in at the town center.

mgrunwel (author)2012-11-08

That graphic in the second step of Entou Tsutsumi looks familiar. O_o

J-Five (author)2012-11-08

Not to sound offensive, I could not pronounce Furshiki.
But they do look cool!!!!

suayres (author)2011-05-26

Check out: & click on "techniques". Brilliant!

ygor (author)2011-04-13

The big green diagram! Is it a furoshiki ?
If so, where can they be purchased ?

KittyF (author)2010-11-22

I've been wanting to do this for YEARS, I've been reading all the furoshki sites but couldn't imagine making everyone wait while I wrapped my purchases. NOW someone suggests PRACTICE!!! I don't know why that strikes me as a new concept.

I don't think it would work for a weeks worth of groceries at walmart with those round turntables to hold bags but it would work for a few items.

eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-06

If you use the watermelon carry wrap, make sure that the object is big enough for it. If you don't there will be a huge gaping hole that the object will fall out of.

spark master (author)2010-07-12

A watermelon sold here for 5 bucks is about 50 bucks in Japan. I know , only, because my buddy (german American) moved there after college and has lived there ever since. He has adult children he has been there that long. When he woud come to our home I would feed his kids to watch their eyes buldgeCantelopes followed by water melon followed by icecream. We were talking about cost of things. a watermelon about 15 years ago that cost me 5 bucks was easily 45-50 bucks. A gallon of milk cost more then a gallon of gasoline (at the time). His wife would not trust anything that expensive to a thin silk cloth. She brough bags with her if they needed them, he has 6 kids, I told him he was insane. please give a link to a place where we can see the thing better, copy it for reference. thanks for an intresting tutorial

mettaurlover (author)2009-08-30

finally! a use for the many bandanas i have lying around doing nothing!

Iridium7 (author)mettaurlover2010-01-30

 you'll need a pretty big bandana.

mettaurlover (author)Iridium72010-01-31

I have about fifty standard sized bandanas lying around in my room. It makes sense to use them to wrap small stuff for storage.

Bitsi (author)2008-07-25

Is this for people who live in cities with markets within walking distance? Because I don't get it. I have to drive a minimum of 15 minutes to get to the grocery store. I go every 10-14 days and I get about twenty bags of stuff. So I would either need to go to the market more frequently (and use more gas), or get about thirty of these scarves (or canvas bags). What am I missing? :-)

blueberry_fox (author)Bitsi2008-07-30

Its not that bad i live a good hour out of town and i still manage to use the canvas bags. All you to do is by one or two every time you go to the shop and it won't take long before you have thirty you can use. Then you just stick them in the boot when after you unpack your grocerys so you can use them next time. It's not that complicated.

Bitsi (author)blueberry_fox2008-07-31

That's interesting. And the clerks don't object to you making them change their whole check-out routine with a different set of bags? At a minimum the people behind you in line probably grumble about how much longer it takes that teenager working minimum wage to fill up 30 canvas totes. Oh and now that you've stopped collecting plastic grocery bags, what are you using to collect the cat poo from the litter box with? :-)

monkeeeee001 (author)Bitsi2009-06-29

To answer your "cat poo" question: Simply getting one or two plastic bags' worth of groceries usually solves that problem. I do that when I'm at the store and I know I'll need to line some garbage bins or will need disposable bags for something else.

H3xx (author)monkeeeee0012009-11-29

I work in a grocery store and I prefer when people bring in the canvas bags. We pack most of their groceries in the canvas ones and then pack their meat/deli/raw produce products in plastic bags to keep the canvas bags clean. As for people grumbling about how much time it wastes, if they're in a hurry, they shouldn't have spent the last hour walking around a grocery store and only buying two items. Part of going green is being less selfish. :)

Aleksandr Skotbot (author)Bitsi2009-03-01

Hi 1. Of course the cashiers don't mind. One material or another, they fill your bags and it takes the same amount of time. 2. The reusable bags fit a LOT of stuff. I used to buy about 12-15 plastic bags worth of stuff every time I bought groceries, and now I fill up 4 reusable bags. 3. I put my cats' poo in spent produce bags. (:

jesuisravi (author)Bitsi2008-08-05

correct me if I'm wrong, but I think _fox is in the UK, where the phenomenon of the clerks stuffing the bags for you is not as prevalent as it is in the US. There, you do your own packing in most of the larger supermarkets, and they have racks of bags waiting at the cashier to buy (50p) and stuff yourself.

blueberry_fox (author)Bitsi2008-07-31

Nope they sell the bags at the gorcerss and you help them pack the bags. Nobody in the line cares beacuse %90 of people use them and it actually takes less time to pack the bags beacuse you can fit more in the canvas bags than you can in the smaller plastic ones so less bags means less time spent packing. 1. I don't have a cat beacuse they kill native birds but i do have a dog and i use a small shovel to pick up any poo. 2. I think your cat might have some problems if it needs that many plastic bags to clean out it's litter tray. 3. I still need the odd plastic bag around the house for the bins and that sort of thing so every now and then i will not use the canvas. Only takes one or two shoping trips to have enough to last for ages.

urbanfreespirit (author)Bitsi2009-07-09

I suppose it is for short distance really. It works for me but it's only a 5 minute walk to my local store

DavidRobertson (author)Bitsi2008-07-31

Twenty bags in 2 weeks! Wow you use a lot of stuff.

babblin5 (author)Bitsi2008-07-25

I understand your frustration, especially living so far from a groecery. Yes, this probably would be more suited to people who live close to a supermarket and stop by on their way home from work, etc. Unfortunately, it appears that plastic and paper bags will be pretty much banned everywhere in the near future, so you'll have to get 25 canvas bags or other means of carrying groceries 8(

trike road poet (author)2009-11-20

Very interesting idea, both for carrying things and wrapping, fun potentials!

What is a good size for the cloth as used for most shopping needs?

Adalei (author)2009-11-18

 This is great, I love the idea. I bought a nice-looking curtain panel at the local walmart, and when it's folded in half makes a rather large bag. If you pick a normal-ish fabric, nobody even notices its not a store-bought bag :D

This is awesome. Rather than having a single bag that you have to deal with for everything you need to carry you can just have a single piece of cloth with many adaptable uses. I'm going to learn these by heart. Thanks for putting it out there!

purduecer (author)2008-07-27

Great idea, just one thing: "Plastic bags are being banned almost everywhere now, due to petroleum costs and landfill issues. Los Angeles just announced a ban on ALL disposable shopping bags... both paper and plastic." Any chance the curious in the audience could get a reference on that? Thanks, Purduecer

alleykitten (author)purduecer2008-12-31

Hey, I don't know where she can find a reference for that. But, I'm in L.A. County... and I know that a ban is being implemented. May people out here are already starting to use reusable bags to get ready ;)

shooby (author)purduecer2008-08-04

Yeah, I agree. In china and India (1/3 of the world's pop.), plastic bags certainly aren't banned. Nor are they in Boston, MA, USA.

notker (author)2008-11-17

wow!! :O I'm going to learn these things by heart

stimps (author)2008-09-25

This is great. I've carried some things furoshiki-style for awhile, but something usually fails. I'm going to work on it =)

panstar1 (author)2008-08-11

I can see the reason for baning plastic bags ,but why paper ? paper can be recy. into other paper products I know from the mill in my town they were using news papers books magazines into paper for box plants well until it was taken over by a new company then closed down and demolished real thanks to the US big business ,but even plastic can be reuse as well into other things. I read once the worse thing you can do with oil is burn it as fuel as hundread of useful chemicals could be made from it ! but but your idea is interesting anyway.

bowmaster (author)2008-07-28

When I need some humor to make my brother lol I tell him what blade addict posted.

jasper28 (author)bowmaster2008-07-28

I think the entire thing got deleted from this instructible (as it should have been a long time ago)

Lego man (author)2008-07-27

Reminds me of a bandanna that people wear on their heads during hiking trips.

sypher (author)2008-07-27

Japanese culture is awesome

anomrabbit (author)2008-07-27

This is really nifty! Do you have a larger version of the image? (My apologies if there was already a link given in the comments ... one troll and I stop reading because I'm only going to get irritated.)

joeysdreamgarden (author)2008-07-27

this is a fantastic instructable! I'm so impressed! I had heard the word 'furoshiki' but I never knew there was such an art to it! OK, no more messing with gift bags for wrapping wine bottles! It will be a good skill to learn... they should teach this in schools.

Kiteman (author)2008-07-23

Nice idea, but I'd rather see more actual photos as well, rather than what seems to be pieces of an image you found online.

(That was the first google image hit)

babblin5 (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

That's whay I made the video I linked up, so people could see an actual demonstration of the four techniques (what i felt were the easiest ones). I suppose I could add some snaps from the vid, which would probably help. Thank you for the suggestion! =)

Kiteman (author)babblin52008-07-24

Good photographs are one of the defining features of a good instructable - not everybody can watch videos on their internet connection, but everybody can look at a photo - and a video can't be printed out and taken out to your shed.

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

(Don't get me wrong, though - this is a great idea, but I don't think I'd use such a ... colourful ... scarf.

Maybe instructables could enter the green packaging business by selling tough cotton squares with Furoshiki instructions printed on one side and Robot on the other...

babblin5 (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

Yeah... me, I use a Harley Davidson scarf, but I was looking for that "Oriental feel" Amazingly, I thought people at the store would think I was insane, but I've had several people comment on how cool it was. Hopefully, I made a few converts ;)

whiteoakart (author)babblin52008-07-25

You just made a convert out of me. I try to bring reusable bags, but I often forget. However, I can carry a silk square in my pocket all the time!

babblin5 (author)whiteoakart2008-07-26

My sentiments exactly.

babblin5 (author)Kiteman2008-07-24

That's a heck of an idea, my friend!

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2008-07-24


jc817 (author)2008-07-25

I have a tendency to use self checkouts and then just carry my stuff in hand, because I never go in for more than a couple things anyway. I was actually told that i needed a bag by the woman checking my receipt at the home depot. Almost completely unrelated, I had a guy in front of me in line become infuriated that home depot had no plastic bags for his items. He threatened the woman overseeing the self checkouts, and all he was buying were two packages of light bulbs. Not very hard to carry out by hand. ahahaha people are ridiculous.

babblin5 (author)jc8172008-07-26

Wow... and I thought MY Home Depot was bad...

cubiecubie (author)2008-07-25

I like it--you could definitely use this as a type of gift wrap. Bonus points for those of us whose gifts look as though a 3 yr old wrapped it :)

babblin5 (author)cubiecubie2008-07-26

I've actually done a couple of box wraps and they look pretty cool. Definitely going to try this on some gifts, cause I happen to be a crappy wrapper... 8D

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