Cardboard chairs and tables may be the answer for people who do not want to spend a lot of money on traditional furniture, whether because they move a lot or because they will outgrow it in a few years. Though it may be gaining popularity with the recent push for more environmentally-friendly living, the idea of cardboard furniture has been around for several decades. Designers are now using it to stylistically accentuate homes and more people are learning about its many uses.

Architect Frank Gehry is believed to have been the first to use cardboard while creating a line of furniture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is said to have wanted to take basic materials and use them to create items that are visually striking but also functional.

While many environmental groups have been touting cardboard furniture for its benefits to the planet by using recycled materials, the advantages of using cardboard furniture goes well beyond the “green” movement, especially when compared to normal furniture.

Traditional tables and chairs can be quite expensive, especially when considering the costs of transportation. This high cost often means once a set of furniture is picked out the new owners are forced to keep it even if they have new ideas on how to decorate their home. A change of mind can be an expensive proposition. For those who move frequently, transporting regular furniture can require either hiring a moving company or at least renting a large truck. Even for those doing it themselves, carrying normal furniture often means finding several friends willing to help.

Cardboard furniture, however, overcomes many of these obstacles while still providing an attractive option for decorating a living space. It is often cheaper to buy up front because it is made from a relatively inexpensive, and often recycled, material. Shipping is usually less expensive also because it can be transported in a flat shape and it does not weigh as much as traditional furniture.

Once in the home, cardboard furniture is easily assembled. Many pieces are designed to fold up when not in use, which makes them easier to store in small places. Despite this portability, cardboard tables and chairs are made to hold hundreds of pounds.

Cardboard furniture makes since for a variety of groups of people when compared to normal furniture. College students and their parents can take advantage of the low cost and ease of use of cardboard furniture. Students do not want to invest in an expensive set of furniture that they are only going to own for a couple of years. Cardboard furniture can solve this problem since it doesn’t cost as much. Buying a couple of chairs and a table that can be recycled at the end of four years makes more sense than purchasing furniture that will have to be sold or stored after graduation.

Since many students live near their college only during the school year, then move home for summer, transporting regular furniture can take a lot of work. Cardboard furniture, however, can be folded up, laid flat and then stored for the summer. It can be reassembled the next year.

Maintenance or repair of standard furniture can be expensive. The piece may even have to be sent somewhere for repairs. Fixing a cardboard chair or table can be cheaper because the material is readily available. Also, even replacing the unit completely can be a better option due to the low cost. For a student watching their money, this can be a considerable savings is something should happen to the furniture.

For many of the same reasons, members of the military may find cardboard furniture to be an advantage. With the possibility of being transferred from base to base at a moment’s notice, having traditional furniture can become almost a burden. Again, there are the high costs of having it transported from new home to new home. In addition, a single active member of the military who may be sent overseas on an extended tour of duty may not want to leave behind pieces of expensive furniture to sit unattended for several months in an empty home.

While many of the people in the groups above may move quite often or not have much spending money, cardboard furniture can also appeal to those who plan on living in the same place for the rest of their lives.

Families have long struggled with children outgrowing furniture, first cribs and then toddler beds. There are also high chairs that will only be used for about a year. Even if they are held on to in expectation of another child, storing a high chair or crib can be difficult. These items are also expensive.

Cardboard furniture aimed at young children can solve these problems. There are baby cribs available for under $100. As with cardboard tables and chairs, assembly of the cardboard children furniture is often a matter of fitting pieces of cardboard into fitted slots of other pieces. In addition, disposal of a cardboard crib or child’s chair is as easy as recycling.

The low cost also means a set of children’s cardboard chairs can be bought without much worry of whether they will last for several years. In fact, the cardboard furniture can serve two purposes for children: the usual role of tables and chairs, but the kids can also “decorate” the furniture on their own. Children love to draw and they can be encouraged to use their own creativity to draw or color cardboard furniture without parents worrying about the pieces losing their potential resale value.

Cardboard furniture can also be safer than traditional furniture. It is softer and doesn’t have sharp edges. Because of their easy portability, cardboard tables are often in demand for ecologically-friendly groups who work trade shows or other booths, or for community bake sales or other events where they will be set in place and later taken down. They are not as heavy to move around yet still will hold the materials for display.

When traditional furniture becomes outdated or worn out, if it cannot be resold often it must be thrown into a landfill. However, cardboard furniture is more environmentally friendly because when it has served its purpose, it can be recycled along with normal boxes or containers.

For someone living on a tight budget or moving often, cardboard furniture can be the answer to outfit a living space without breaking the bank or causing too much pain on moving day. It is less expensive than traditional furniture, can be easily assembled and disassembled for storage and transportation and is more environmentally friendly because it can be recycled after it is no longer wanted.

With so many benefits over its traditional counterpart, cardboard furniture deserves at least a second look for someone wanting an economical as well as ecological solution to home design.