FOOD FOR THOUGHT BLOG |Making ‘Newspaper-paper bag’ (it is not a tongue-twister!), by Aya Yoshitomi

Sep 26, 2022

FOOD FOR THOUGHT BLOG |Making ‘Newspaper-paper bag’ (it is not a tongue-twister!), by Aya Yoshitomi

Do you read a paper newspaper or online newspaper? If you have some old paper-newspapers, I’m going to introduce “Shimanto Newspaper Bag”. Actually, I’m an instructor of this humorous activity. I had worked for a newspaper company and now run a small bookshop. My love for papers and letters might make me be interested in this handicraft. Teaching how to make paper bags to children and adults is fun.

The bag was originally created in 2003. It was 17 years before the government made a rule for stopping giving customers plastic bags from shops.

Shimanto river is called the last clearest river in Kochi prefecture of Shikoku island, Japan. But there was some garbage like plastic bags and they ruined beautiful scenery. A designer who is famous for creating fascinating products from rural areas, Makoto Umebara got the idea to wrap up things with newspaper bags instead of plastic bags. He told this idea to the people around him. After a while, an elderly woman worked out how to make these paper bags using Japanese origami folding paper techniques. Ta-dah! It was the birth of ‘Shimanto Newspaper bags’.

The idea that using an old newspaper comes from the Mottainai spirit in Japan. Do you know the Japanese word ‘Mottainai’?  It basically means, “Don’t waste it” and includes the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2004 Wangari Maathai, an environmental scientist, introduced this word to the world.

We only use some newspaper and some glue made from starch as ingredients. It’s ecological, right? The tools we need are a paper cutter, a ruler, a brush for glue, and a small glass bottle. There is nothing special and you can find them at home. 

Shimanto newspaper bags are made of paper, but they are stronger than you might think. You can put a wine bottle or cans of beer in them. Be careful of the rain though! I have a small used bookstore and provide these bags for customers instead of plastic bags.

By Aya Yoshitomi

Heart & Parcel