Years ago, I discovered the benefits of reusing pallets when I managed a [now-defunct] I Sold It franchise (I Sold It was a chain of eBay drop-off stores). We had a large item to ship that required a pallet for freight shipping, and I didn't want to spend $100 on pallets for a single use ($20 per pallet, quantities of 5 or more). A short search around the rear of our building yielded a couple of pallets, one of which was usable.
When I realized how many pallets are discarded every day around the Atlanta area, I initially thought it might be a good side business to gather up discarded pallets and sell them at a discount. Unfortunately, the economics of dumpster diving for pallets was not very profitable: a business owner is not likely to pay regular price for a used pallet, and to sell on any large scale involved a large commitment of time and resources – hours of driving and gasoline for the car to find and gather them. Though I had space to store them, gathering them up until I had enough to sell wasn't really an option. So my fantasy of a recycling pallet business dissolved as soon as I thought of it.
I had a pleasant surprise at Indie Craft Experience this past weekend. While browsing the usual selection of vendors selling knitted hats, recycled felt skirts, and other crafty stuff, I came across a guy sitting in a wooden chair that looked suspiciously like it was made from pallets.
I have a tendency to stop at any booth featuring wooden furniture items (especially at art fairs, where handmade woodworkers display beautiful and amazing furniture). So there was no hesitation to stop and look at this interesting piece of furniture.
Shelton Davis (the guy sitting in the chair) was there representing Repurposed Goods, a project to reuse discarded pallets into new creations. The chair was made completely from recycled pallets, and he also had on display a birdfeeder. He was selling complete DIY building plans for the chair and bird feeder, as well as a DIY “Ikea-style” kit for the bird feeder that one could build immediately.
All the plans were printed on recycled paper, and he also sells the plans as downloadable PDFs through his Etsy store. It turns out Shelton is an industrial designer, so not only is he able to create plans for pallet repurposing, he is able to convey the instructions in a simple and clear document.
I think I have found a reason to start stacking up pallets again.