So the decision by the charity Edinburgh Direct Aid to send supplies to Syrian refugees in Lebanon in boxes that can be turned into stools, desks and other types of furniture is one that works on many levels.
The refugees will get useful items they lack, along with the warm clothes and other goods inside; the camp will have less rubbish to deal with; and for the charity it is a more efficient use of resources.
Some might suggest cardboard furniture will not last long, but it is better than nothing, and the strength of cardboard is often underestimated. It is sufficiently robust to be used to make cycling helmets, for example.
The aid shipment is also a reminder that people who have fled Syria’s brutal civil war – but not sought refuge in Europe – are often forced to live in dire conditions without sufficient clothing and shelter to keep warm.
According to Unicef, more than eight million Syrian children are now in danger from a lack of food, healthcare, clean water – and the deadly cold of winter.