Pallets are everywhere. Millions are made every year. They come in all shapes and sizes but there are standard sizes. Some are made to be used many times but most are single-use and end up being burned or in landfills. Before getting into the where and why let’s just get some facts sorted out:
“Taking pallets is stealing!”
We often see comments that taking pallets is stealing. That’s certainly true for multi-use ones. But most businesses will happily allow you to take their single-use pallets. Of course, common courtesy says you should always seek permission before taking anything.
The scene above is happening in hundreds of locations every day. Thankfully, these pallets will at least end up as mulch. But for every pallet that gets turned to mulch, another ten end up in a landfill. The bottom line is that these are waste. When you convert a pallet into a useful item, you are benefiting the environment and your pocket while rewarding your own creativity.
Multi-use pallets are always branded. They are also usually painted so there is no way you will be confused as to which is which.
“You can’t dismantle pallets!”
Not true. In fact, there are a number of tried and proven methods for dismantling them so as to save both the timber and you from injury. Make sure you wear gloves and, preferably, safety glasses though as there is a major risk of splinters otherwise. You can download step-by-step instructions here.
You can also use this handy pallet buster to make the job easier.
Reclaiming boards can be nearly impossible with a crowbar and a hammer. Pallet breakers remove this burden and help you make the pallet furniture you want.
“Pallets are dangerous to repurpose because they are all treated with toxins!”
Another mega-myth! Very few pallets, anywhere in the world, are treated with toxins. The facts are that most countries have banned the chemicals that were used to protect it against spreading vermin and unwanted ‘immigrants’. Almost all pallets made in the last decade are either heat-treated or totally untreated. You will find a lot more information in our Pallets – fact and fiction posts.
However, some of them may be used to cart poisons or other toxic substances so it is common sense to know where your pallet has been. If it is stained and you are in doubt, do not use it for growing anything but flowers. It may also be best to avoid using it for furniture. Don’t worry… there are lots more replacements available 🙂
“The timber is rubbish anyway. It’s not worth saving!”
Make no mistake, single-use pallets are made out of low-grade timber. But that doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose them. There are thousands of inspiring examples showing that it’s all about how you use what you have!
Ok, so let’s get down to the where…
Sources of free pallets:
Start by thinking small. Your local hypermarket probably has a contract with a pallet recycler. These recyclers think big. They’re lazy. They want to go somewhere and get a few pallets, not one or two.
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