By John DeFore
Solid-wood furniture is pricey and obviously involves harvesting trees, but the alternatives aren’t necessarily much more appealing: Particle board, while transforming waste materials into something useful, is usually glued together with resin containing the carcinogen formaldehyde. A newer innovation, the “zBoard,” hopes to supplant particle board and MDF in a wholly eco-friendly way.
Way Basics spent ten years developing the zBoards, which are 99% composed of post-consumer waste paper (the remaining 1% is a water-resistant veneer paper) and combine pressed and corrugated layers. Being paper, the whole board is recyclable, and while it’s less than half as heavy as particle board, it’s sturdy enough to use for bookcases and desks.
The company is marketing a line of kits derived from combinations of a basic open-cube form. Shipped in flat packs, the sets make a point of extreme simplicity: Instead of screws or nails, the boards are attached with extremely strong 3M tape strips and given structural support by a sturdy paper backing board. Each can be assembled in a few minutes with no tools.
Being a founding member of the Sustainable Furniture Council, Way Basics is interested not only in selling its own products but in extending the life of already-existing furniture. Five percent of profits go to Help1Up, a non-profit that runs “Furniture Banks” across the country that collect donated furniture and direct items to families in need.
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