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Furoshiki - Reusable Japanese cloth wrapping

Postby rsuzuki » June 10th, 2014, 10:03 am

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So when I was a kid, I used to carry my box lunches in these cloth wrappers called Furoshiki. This article explains a bit about its design and usability. I see a lot of wasteful packaging and paperbags being used, I think cloth and reusable/repurposable bags are definitely something needed today.

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- Rei Suzuki
from Tokyo, living in Denver
Coroflot » http://www.coroflot.com/rei_suzuki

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Nice. Really interesting.
Might use that for the next presents I'll give away.
I really like the multi-functional and reusable aspect.
http://esbenoxholm.dk/ Product Visualization & Industrial Design // Available for hire

Re: Furoshiki - Reusable Japanese cloth wrapping

Postby iab » June 11th, 2014, 8:28 am


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rsuzuki wrote: I think cloth and reusable/repurposable bags are definitely something needed today.


Why? What evidence do you have to support the claim?

Not only do you need to factor in the footprint of cloth versus paper, would will also need to convey what percentage of any impact bags in general have in the greater system. Basically, I would like to know my tradeoffs, where can I have the biggest impact.

You are also asking for a cultural behavior change. How will that be accomplished?

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iab wrote: rsuzuki wrote: I think cloth and reusable/repurposable bags are definitely something needed today.

Why? What evidence do you have to support the claim?


The visuals alone make a case for me. It looks considered and thoughtful. The message is other than disposability.

Re: Furoshiki - Reusable Japanese cloth wrapping

Postby iab » June 11th, 2014, 11:26 am


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A sample size of 1 has no impact.

But that does not answer my question. Would a sample size of 1 million have impact?

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The sample size on this topic is now four. The answer to the question of what would one million people think is unknown. The location of the million respondents would also affect the outcome. My Japanese wife recognizes the technique and likes it, so now the sample size is five. :)

My opinion sample size is always one, I still wish for an impact, even if a million people disagree with me.

Re: Furoshiki - Reusable Japanese cloth wrapping

Postby iab » June 12th, 2014, 8:13 am


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I don't disagree.

What I want is a more purposeful use of language. Ironic in that the cloth possibly more purposeful than a disposable. But when I see words like definitely and needed, my regulatory training breaks free. All I ask is if you make a claim, back it up with data. Otherwise it is snake oil.


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Perhaps I overly generalized with my first post, but I don't think it's snake oil. I believe waste and wastefulness is a definite problem. It may not only be an environmental issue but a social one. If data is needed, I'm pretty confident we could easily find credible studies that have been done on the degree of consumption and its resulting waste there is in general today. If a certain culture has in the past developed a method of reusing, wrapping, or carrying things, it's worth exploring how we can apply the same principles for today's world. There are different solutions to the problem; for example, biodegradable plastic bags. With design, we have the ability to go further than simply finding a solution to the problem; hence my affinity to beautiful textiles as reusable packaging.
- Rei Suzuki
from Tokyo, living in Denver
Coroflot » http://www.coroflot.com/rei_suzuki

Re: Furoshiki - Reusable Japanese cloth wrapping

Postby iab » June 12th, 2014, 1:07 pm


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rsuzuki wrote:If data is needed, I'm pretty confident we could easily find credible studies that have been done on the degree of consumption and its resulting waste there is in general today.


I beg to differ, the task is anything but easy.

First why is waste demonized? Correct if I am wrong, but currently in this discussion, waste is being defined as a short life cycle. In reality, waste occurs throughout that life cycle, in the manufacturing, distribution and disposal of a product. A square meter of silk cloth imported from Japan for Furoshiki may use an equivalent of resources to make 1,000 paper bags 100 miles from me. What would be more wasteful?

There are so many variables. Where is the manufacturing plant, how far are resources from the plant, what economies of scale does the plant have, what's the distribution chain, how efficient is the design for materials used, what resources were used in the design cycle, etc, etc, etc. The list is endless.

And waste itself, or entropy, is just a physics fact. It is a biological function, you cannot survive without it. It just is, nothing you can do about it. And even if we completely strip to nothing, lay waste to a particular resource, what says we can't use something else as a substitute? This planet has been producing waste for 4 billion years.

And then there is bang for your buck. What is the best way to reduce "waste". What will have more impact? The average American eats 4-5 meals out. How wasteful is that compared to brown-bagging it or compared to using a Furoshiki? Maybe giving up one meal of week out is the equivalent to using a Furoshiki for a month instead of using a bag. I have to pick and choose what is the smartest choice to reduce waste. I can't completely give up all convenience either, I don't have the time. I also can't be expected to live like your average Bangladeshi.

You need to know an inventory of resources and rate of consumption to have any clue to what is sustainable or not. While I certainly won't claim to know all credible studies, I have never seen one truly defines what is sustainable and what is not. They are all "waste is bad" without any evidence to actually prove why it is bad.

So where is the line? What is sustainable? My current consumption? A future increased consumption? The consumption of a Bangladeshi? I have no clue. I would love it if it were in an easily obtained credible study.


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