You have probably seen them hundreds of time and never given them a second thought: those sturdy wooden pallets that manufacturers ship tons of goods on, that usually just get discarded after the retailer unpacks the merchandise. A lot of these structures end up in landfills every year. However, with some ingenuity and creativity, you can find plenty of uses for these pallets that will save them from the landfill and give them new purpose.
According to Martin Buckley, an entrepreneur who blogs about his offbeat business services, you can make a pretty good income by starting your own wooden pallet recycling business. You can go around to local businesses that get a lot of deliveries on these pallets. Tell the owner or manager of the business that you would be willing to haul away the pallets for free. Usually, they have to pay to have them removed, so they probably will have no objection to this. Find out when they usually need these removed and you can set up a regular schedule to collect them. All you need is a flatbed pickup truck so that you can pick up pallets from different places on your route. Set aside some of the most damaged pallets to use as scrap. Then repair the others by replacing broken boards from the scrap. You can then sell the repaired pallets to manufacturing companies and pallet companies.
I-Beam Design is an innovative New York architecture and design firm that created a humanitarian use for wooden pallets. They designed a house made entirely out of these wooden pallets in response to the overwhelming number of refugees returning to Kosovo, and their need for temporary shelter. The pallets are sturdy and abundant and are already being sent to these areas with food and supplies. The design won an honorable mention in a contest called the Returning Refugees of Kosovo, and has been featured in many magazines and design journals.
Oaks Unlimited of Waynesville, North Carolina has become the first company to recycle old wooden pallets and turn them into hardwood flooring. The pallets can be disassembled, and individual boards used in the floors. This is an eco-friendly solution that uses already existing cut wood instead of harvesting new lumber.
There are also plenty of uses for wooden pallets that you can employ in your own home. Clay Sawyer of Backwoods Home Magazine explains how to make a fence out of these discarded pallets. First you need to cut wooden posts made out of dry hardwood. Then remove every other board from the front of the pallet and all the boards from the back, so it resembles a fence design. You can use a jigsaw to cut the top of the boards into a rounded or picket pattern. Attach several pallet boards to each post and then attach each pallet fence section to these boards.
You don't necessarily need some kind of functional household use in order to recycle an old wooden pallet. According to the Pallet Project, pallets can be a great medium for sculptural works of art. The Pallet Project is a website that explores the artistic possibilities of the pallet. The artists featured on the website have found different ways to manipulate the wood, stack the pallets, write on them, paint them and many other transformations.