Way Basics: Paper Furniture That Holds Its Own

zBoard Possibilities Cube Living Room Shelving Unit Photo

Image via: Way Basics

Furniture made from paper? Paper can't stand up on its own, much less hold people, books, pets or the clothing you don't feel like hanging up, for that matter. Not to worry, this recycled paper furniture by Way Basics can do the job, and can even be recycled when it reaches the end of its life. Gone are the days when a few cinderblocks and a couple of 2X6's constituted your shelving units. Today you can get shelves for pretty cheap, but the materials that go into them are also pretty cheap and probably not sustainable. The folks at Way Basics decided to engineer a product that uses some of that excess waste office paper, but that is also durable enough to last for years before it is recycled back into more zBoard shelves and cabinets.

Way Basics zBoard Paper Board Cross Section Photo

Image via: Way Basics

The zBoards as they are made from 100% - 99% post consumer recycled and 1% paper veneer for the outside. While it might look and feel like particleboard, it's 62% lighter, This also makes shipping easier and cheaper. The boards can each hold up to 50 pounds and withe support dividers they can hold 100 pounds. If you don't trust the strength, they even have a Youtube video where a 200-pound man gets on one of the cubes and hops up and down.

You don't have to worry about any off-gassing with your new shelves because there is no formaldehyde used in zBoards. The binding agent is a non-toxic glue, so essentially you can take them home, make your cabinets, let them sit 24 hours and bada bing bada boom, you've got yourself a new entertainment unit.

Way Basics zBoard Colored Shelving Unit Options Photo

Image via: Way Basics

One possible snag I see is that you can make just about anything with the zBoards. For the artsy, engineering types this might be a blank canvas or a dream come true. For other folks that need straight directions, this could be the fifth circle of hell. Fortunately they've taken a few of typical hazards out of do-it-yourself furniture by removing any need for screws, fasteners or tools. The boards adhere to each other with industrial-strength 3M adhesive "glue." Fewer parts means easier to recycle but it also means you'd better get it right on the first try because that super glue isn't going to be very forgiving if you want to realign corners. They also have several step-by-step videos online so you can virtually "practice" putting the boards together before you remove the tape covers or glue the wrong ends together.

In terms of looks, the edges of some of the models of zBoards do have the rough edged look of a thick cardboard box. This might not be nice enough for your living room, but for the young professional or for your older kids, this might be a cheap, easy way to decorate. Plus you can let them go wild decorating and painting the cubes, however they want, knowing that you can always paint over them or recycle them when they get destroyed. Some of the higher-end models do have clean, smooth edges in case you're not into the crafty-look.

One more downside: the boards are made in Taiwan and then shipped around the world to suppliers. But it's not such a bad deal knowing that you're using a waste product, not cutting down virgin trees, not using more water to make the boards and not offgasing toxins into your home. As we mentioned above, these boards are also 62% lighter than particleboard, taking some of the weight off of your carbon footprint.

We have yet to see these things in action so if you spot one, let us know what you think in terms of design, aesthetics and durability. The units come in a variety of shapes and designs, like cube, shelving units, entertainment units, small tables and desks and range in price from USD$20 to under $200 for larger units. They even come in primary colors. Right now, you can get a You can find Way Basics shelves and storage units online at :Way Basics
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