Update 4/22/08: Check out our Mottainai Furoshiki Video
Yuriko Koike, Japan's Minister of the Environment, unveiled what she calls "Mottainai Furoshiki" at the Senior Officials Meeting on the 3R Initiative held in Tokyo. Furoshiki (furoshiki) are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloths that were frequently used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. Mottainai comes from the Buddhist term meaning "to indicate regret at the waste or misuse of something sacred or highly respected".
Yuriko Koike explains:
I've created what you might call a "mottainai furoshiki". The Japanese word mottainai means it's a shame for something to go to waste without having made use of its potential in full. The furoshiki is made of a fiber manufactured from recycled PET bottles, and has a birds-and-flowers motif drawn by Itoh Jakuchu, a painter of the mid-Edo era. The Japanese wrapping cloth known as the furoshiki is said to have been first used in the Muromachi Period(1392-1573), when people spread it out in place of a bath mat or wrapped one's clothes with it. The furoshiki is so handy that you can wrap almost anything in it regardless of size or shape with a little ingenuity by simply folding it in a right way. It's much better than Plastic bags you receive at supermarkets or wrapping paper, since it's highly resistant, reusable and multipurpose. In fact, it's one of the symbols of traditional Japanese culture, and puts an accent on taking care of things and avoiding wastes. It would be wonderful if the furoshiki, as a symbol of traditional Japanese culture, could provide an opportunity for us to reconsider the possibilities of a sound-material cycle society. As my sincere wish, I would like to disseminate the culture of the furoshiki to the entire world.
I love this initiative. It's great that so many people are moving from plastic bags to reusable bags but the "Mottainai Furoshiki" takes utility a step further because the Furoshiki can be reused but in so many different way! Sure it's not as easy as a plain old bag but being Green takes some ingenuity and creativity. I'd love to see one of our government officials come up with an initiative like this. [via Notcot]