Old and discarded wooden pallets can be used in pallet crafts and various furniture pieces.
Discarded wooden pallets should not be used for firewood or crafts unless it has been determined that the wood in these pallets has not been treated with wood preservatives, fungicides and/or pesticides. Various pyrethrins and propiconazole are common treatments for wooden pallets. In addition, imported palletized goods are routinely fumigated with highly toxic pesticides. During use, harmful materials or chemicals also may spill on the pallet wood and be absorbed.
Craft publications have advised readers to use pallets to build a skateboarding obstacle called a manual pad, barricades during amateur paintball games, or other sport-related items. Other publications have suggested using pallet wood for small animal cages or fences. Pallet wood has been recycled for use as furniture wood by at least one company.
The acoustic guitar maker Taylor Guitars once produced a high quality “pallet guitar” made from pallet wood, in order to demonstrate the importance of construction technique versus expensive exotic woods.
I-Beam Design, an architecture and interior design firm based in New York, NY won an award in a 1999 competition sponsored by Architecture for Humanity for their submission of “The Pallet House”, a design solution to house the returning refugees of Kosovo. Full-scale prototypes of The Pallet House were featured in the “Casa per Tutti” Exhibit at the Milan Triennale and the Earth Awards in HRH Prince Charles’ Royal Gardens as part of The Prince’s Charities Foundation’s Conference on a Sustainable Future organized in collaboration with IBM and The Financial Times. The Pallet House is an affordable transitional home that can become permanent over time. It can be used as refugee housing or as affordable housing as well. Due to the nature of the Pallet module, the wall cavity can be insulated with a variety of materials that are accessible to the user.
The two Austrian students Andreas Claus Schnetzer and Gregor Pils from the University of Vienna created a home entitled Pallet house and as the name suggests, reused pallets to form a modular, energy efficient and affordable housing. The idea was born in 2008 during a competition and the Pallet house has been exhibited in several European cities including Venice, Vienna, Linz and Grenoble. It could become a clever approach to low income housing.
Denver, Colorado was host to an Inaugural Pallet-Fest festival that showcased the versatility of pallets and included large art structures made with upcycled materials, a pallet maze, a pallet amphitheater with live musical performances, sustainable living demonstrations, an upcycled fashion show, vendors and artists selling upcycled goods, and a parkour course. The event was crowdfunded and organized by Upcycle Events.
Items made from pallet wood are likely to be durable and demonstrate good weather resistance due to these treatments. However, close contact with pallet wood or inhalation of dusts from sanding or sawing can be a source of exposure to pesticide and fungicide chemicals. It is likely that the January, 2010 recall of Johnson and Johnson Tylenol and other drugs was due to their being stored on wooden pallets that had been treated with the fungicide/pesticide 2,4,6-tribromophenol. This chemical can be degraded by molds to produce 2,4,6-tribromoanisole whose strong, musty odor caused consumers to complain. There is no acute or chronic health data on 2,4,6-tribromoanisole, but it is believed that the contaminated drugs caused nausea and other health effects in some people.