Pallet Inspiration

Pallet Inspiration

Great re-use of pallets for a stylish furniture change

I have been following the creativity of fellow “junkers” on the search for a more sustainable life and home environment with great intensity.  Many gardeners, treasure-hunters, and recycled-material enthusiasts have been busy innovating unique ideas for turning what used to be trash into eclectic and funky furniture, hardscape, and home accoutrements.   I am excited to share some of the finds I have come across.

Pallets, normally used for the shipping of heavy materials and lifted by forklifts are often discarded or left to decay in landfills, junkyards, warehouses, and even roadsides.  However, according to the USDA Forest Service and research done by the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, out of Blacksburg, Virginia, which tracked activity in the U.S. wood pallet and container industry between 1992 and 2006, most wood pallets are recycled, repaired, re-used, or turned into other products such as chipped wood landscape mulch and animal bedding.  According to the 2006 Virginia Tech research study, which determined trends in wood use and pallet production within the industry, less than one-quarter of 1% of pallets are headed to the landfill due to production facilities’ efforts to divert used pallets and either reuse or repair them.  Of the 590 US production facilities surveyed, 55.5% were involved in pallet repair, recovery (undamaged), or re-manufacturing through re-nailing of old pallets that were broken during shipping.  Approximately 67% are repaired and 10% were reused without repair according to the study.  (Araman, P. B. 2010. “U.S. Wood Pallet Material Use Trends”, Blacksburg, Virginia: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, VA Tech).  This is a considerable step, both driven by corporate financials and through efforts by the USDA Forest Service in management of our natural resources toward better use of our forest products.

Pallets are a veritable wealth of resources for recreating into a number of useful products, furniture, standing prop gardens, fences… name it!  The limits of creativity are purely your own.  You can find pallets at many warehouses and retailers, where they will sell them cheaply to the public.  You may even find them propped up and discarded almost anywhere.  Most (approximately 63.6%) are hardwood, which is a more durable material for long-term use and will withstand outdoor weather better.  They are easily disassembled with simple tools and re-made into whatever your project idea is.  Keep your eyes peeled and happy collecting!


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