"Mottainai" is one word that means "too good to waste". It is a word and way of thinking in Japan that is a part of its history and you hear it used almost everyday.
It is reduce, reuse, recycle all in one.
The woman who helped make this Japanese word a part of global vocabulary is Wangari Maathati, an extraordinary person from Kenya who is responsible for the Green Belt Movement.
(Please check out the website at www.thegreenbeltmovement.org
For the Japanese website www.mottainai.info )
One of the things that you cannot exclude from the mottainai philosophy is the furoshiki.
Reusable tote bags/grocery bags have become a part of everyday life here in Japan (I'm sure it is the same elsewhere too). But this is not a new concept for the Japanese. There is the amazing furoshiki. As seen in the picture above, they are reusable cloths that perform like a bag. The great thing about the furoshiki is its simplicity. It's just a cloth, so you can fold it or wrap it around anything. You can shape it into the bag you need. Of course you can make one yourself too! (No leather is also a nice thing!) The furoshikis in the picture above, are all very traditional Japanese style BUT there are a lot of new furoshiki designers making new "fashionable" designs as well.
I like to have many colors on hand so that I have one furoshiki that matches each of my purses. I store my furoshiki in each purse so that when I change purses I don't have to waste time looking for the right color. It also means that I will always have an extra bag in my purse and I can say "no thanks!" to any plastic! They are durable, washable and can be used for other things as well : tapestry, book covers, table cloths, scarves....with a little imagination, just about anything!