Welcome to 2020, the year of wake-up calls and healthy reminders. One of those reminders is to stay on top of your finances and save money where you can. Arguably one of the best ways to save is by building instead of buying, and using recycled materials to build is icing on the cake. Not only will it save you money, but it’s a step in the right direction in creating a more self-sustainable lifestyle.
There’s myriad reasons why I prefer to build with pallet wood in addition to staying on top of my finances. Here’s 4 solid reasons why YOU should start building with pallet wood.
1. Ya Get What Ya Get
Every board has some sort of dent, knot, or rough edge, and that’s awesome. Whatever you build will be like a fingerprint - one of a kind. The boards dictate the character of the finished product by virtue of their previous use, leaving a need for perfectionism at the door.
Personally it helps me relax and not worry about minor blemishes. It’s kind of like getting that first scratch out of the way after buying a new car. Every other imperfection afterward isn’t nearly as stressful.
Think about it this way: all of us are in some way used and riddled with imperfections, but that’s what makes us who we are. Let the wood be what it is and love it for that reason.
When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent… you sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.
2. Duality of Purpose
Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we all have more than one side to our personalities. Perhaps not as extreme as good vs. evil as Stevenson illustrated in this story, but you get the idea. Think of pallet wood as being transformed from their propensity to be evil (existing as a part of a pallet) to a useful contributor to daily life (becoming whatever you decide to build with it).
What once spent its days as a base for holding copious amounts of Cheetos, beer, or jars of pickles now has a second chance at life. Those pallet boards can be transformed into art, shelving, garden boxes - you name it. Building with pallet wood is building with wood that has a story. You’re reviving a piece that was destined for a dumpster and giving it a second chance. Everyone deserves a second chance, right?
3. Limitations Produce Creativity
Some of my most creative and delicious meals were made in scant hostel kitchens overseas. The limited variety of spices and ingredients forced me into a creative space. An overabundance of choice can serve as an overwhelming factor in decision-making, so if the tools are already chosen for you, all of your energy can be focused on the outcome.
Release the rigidity of buying specific lengths and widths of lumber. Creativity comes from the unexpected, the unintentional, and what’s readily available. Every pallet board will have a notch or abrasion to work around, which forces you to adapt to the situation and come up with organic ideas. I’ve ended up building random useful items that I had never even thought of until I forced myself to stay within the confines of what was laid out before me.
4. It’s CHEAP, if not Free
An average 8 foot long 2 x 4 costs between $4 - $5.50. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve actually had to pay for a pallet, and when I did, I paid $1 for one. The average pallet has 8 boards which are usually 4 feet in length. That’s 32 feet for $1! Can’t beat that logic, can you?
Better yet, don’t pay a dime - reach out to a local coffee roaster, restaurant, or warehouse. They often receive shipments of product on pallets and end up tossing them out back. Most will be more than happy to have someone pick it up - it’s less work for them and free material for you!
Use these tips as motivation to start your next DIY project! Scan your home and see what could bring your life a little bit more ease. Maybe a little side table by the couch would come in handy, or a key hanger for the entryway. There are endless things to be built with pallet wood, and the upside to these projects is tremendous.