When many of us consider the idea of a cardboard house, we have fond memories of building them ourselves, or helping our kids to do so – on the carpeted floor of a warm living room. Often constructed from the oversized box of a newly delivered household appliance, such childhood domiciles serve as the stimulus for countless childhood dreams and hours of playtime. These short-lived little houses are each unique in size, shape and décor, true examples of cardboard creativity.

But the cardboard creativity we’re thinking of is a slightly different sort. What if that cardboard could be made into a reliable building material that could be used to construct actual living spaces that are more durable than the houses a good portion of the world’s population currently call home? It may sound like a childish dream that something as simple as cardboard could be so useful, but in fact it’s closer to reality than you might imagine. We know a company who is currently working on the concept, which hinges on the technology to construct and coat thick cardboard, making it durable and waterproof. You’ve probably seen this sort of cardboard in action already as produce boxes in the grocery store – the ones that feel a bit waxy to the touch and don’t disintegrate under the influence of a juicy bad apple or two. Proof that all cardboard is not created equal!

Could it really work? Is it easily replicable and sustainable? Is it something that people would want and use? Could it change lives for the better? These are all questions that The Central Group asks as it pursues the cardboard house idea, which is uniquely suited to its already successful cardboard design and manufacturing business. For many years, the two worlds of business and social good have been so divergent that they are almost at odds, but times are changing. As Richard Branson says in his latest book, Screw Business as Usual,

[Business] should no longer be just about typical ‘corporate social responsibility’ (or that horrible acronym CSR) where the ‘responsibility’ bit is usually the realm of a small team buried in a basement office – now it should be about every single person in a business taking responsibility to make a difference in everything they do, at work and in their personal lives.

Of course, this story about the cardboard house isn’t finished yet, but in the meantime let’s join The Central Group at the crest of this tide of change and take a lesson from their interest in social innovation and creative capitalism.