10 Ways to Reuse a Wooden Pallet

As I research and plan for my transformation into a modern day homesteader, surfing through a veritable garden of internet resources on how to live a more sustainable life, I keep seeing wooden pallets!  After the third or fourth time I came across an interesting project reusing a wooden pallet I decided to keep track of them.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Vertical Herb Garden.  Do you long to garden but live in a condo or apartment? If you don’t have much space you can go vertical with a pallet:   http://lifeonthebalcony.com/how-to-turn-a-pallet-into-a-garden/ .  All you need is a wooden pallet, landscape fabric, planting mix and seeds (or baby plants).
  2. Garden Planter.  Or maybe you have the space but don’t want to take spade to rock hard soil?   You can reuse pallets and build planters – this takes a little more work and requires a few more tools (a saw for instance).  http://green.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/05/diy_container_gardening.php   Or lean two pallets together and use them as a trellis for tomato plants or other climbing vines.
  3. Chicken Coop.  You would not believe how many people have built chicken coops from pallets!  Some don’t even remotely resemble pallets when completed and in those cases I suppose the pallets merely serve as the structural skeleton, since they are subsequently covered with plywood or other surfaces.  These end up looking much nicer but are more expensive to construct.  Here are a few examples of both the simple and more complicated: http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-pallet-chicken-coop ; http://simplelifeainteasy.blogspot.com/2011/09/pallet-coop.html ; http://justfinedesignbuild.blogspot.com/2011/03/custom-pallet-chicken-coop-for-novella.html
  4. Shed or playhouse. http://gallery.apartmenttherapy.com/photo/rn-creative-warehouse-loft/item/160308 ; http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/2010/01/01/pallet-playhouse-instructable/ (hmm, maybe we’ll just build 4 of those J – then each kid can have a private room!)
  5. Compost Bin. http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/2006/05/how-to-build-15-shipping-pallet.html
  6. Potting Bench.  Made from 2 pallets – super simple and easy construction.  http://momprepares.com/2011/09/21/upcycling-furniture-out-of-old-wooden-shipping-pallets/
  7. Furniture!  Yes, you can recycle wooden pallets into furniture (see link above as well) – a patio table for instance, an Adirondack chair, plate rack or a platform bed.  http://gallery.apartmenttherapy.com/photo/rn-creative-warehouse-loft/item/160308
  8. Firewood.  Not exactly recycling, but a reasonable reuse.  Save a tree!
  9. Animal pen.  Rabbit hutch, dog house, stall dividers – plenty of ways to use pallets to house your animal friends.  http://gomestic.com/do-it-yourself/a-simple-goat-shelter-from-pallets/
  10. Art.  OK – not first on my list but I had to admire some of the very creative constructions that people have come up with using pallets!  This site is chock full of fun ideas – both functional and artsy!  http://www.greenecoservices.com/31-ways-to-reuse-wood-pallets-make-money/

 

I understand that pallets can be had for very little money – or even for free – from places like Walmart, Target, Cost-Co, and home improvement or gardening stores making them very tempting to the do-it-yourselfer.  However, before you start cruising the loading docks of your neighborhood stores, it’s worth noting that some older (pre-2005) pallets have been treated with the toxic chemical, methyl bromide, rendering them unsuitable for use as firewood or children’s playhouses.  Since 2005 pallets have been treated through a heating process or kiln dried.  These pallets are marked HT.  In addition to any treatment, it’s worth considering what the pallet carried (might that pallet from the garden center have carried bags of pesticide?) and paying attention to the general condition – is the wood dry or damp?  Oily?  Does it smell, or have nails poking out of it?  Here are a few websites with more information on pallet selection and potential issues:

http://funkyjunkinteriors.blogspot.com/2011/04/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about.html

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/upcycled-wooden-pallets-green-158131

http://www.rootsimple.com/2011/06/are-pallets-safe-to-reuse.html

Stay tuned for the projects to which we put our hand reusing the very versatile wooden pallet!

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2 Responses to 10 Ways to Reuse a Wooden Pallet

  1. Lee says:

    Although methyl bromide is a “poison”, it is a gas and leaves no residue one aerated. Pallets that are pre-2005 were long aerated in 2005, since the gas is very hard to contain (we have to seal a container with plastic, tape, and glue to make it as gas-tight as possible) and the pallet is de-gassed within hours of opening the container. Methyl bromide is also a naturally occuring chemical, with over 95% of what is in the atmosphere produced by the oceans, approximately 4+% produced by the burning of biomass (forest fires, etc.). In sufficient quanities (not much, but far much more than that in the atmosphere), it is dangerous. However, it is a restricted use pesticide and available only to certified, state-licensed personnel who must annually complete recertification to even use or purchase it. Use those pre-2005 pallets! By the way, most pallets are not treated with methyl bromide or heat anyway, only those used for export to certain countries.

    • boxcarkids says:

      That is good to know! It’s interesting how often it came up as a hazard in reusing pallets. Other issues that people mentioned included bacteria, mold, animal (rat, bird) feces – things that the pallet might have come into contact with in its travels. Certainly seems like a good idea to give them a good hosing down.

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