Wooden Pallet Table or DIY Student Furniture?

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I recently moved into a new condo, a very easy decision for me to make as an environmentalist. Condos use less resources per capita than houses do and my condo is seeking a LEED Silver certification. There was only one sticking point... I wanted access to a backyard, which is tough for a condo. But I was lucky and bought a place with a big enough balcony that there are planters.

So there I am, got my condo, got my sort of backyard, all I needed was some patio furniture. Here is where things get complicated, basically because of my brother. His advice was simple "What are you stupid? Don't buy your furniture now... wait until the end of the season and get a high quality patio set for a quarter of the price."

And since I am broke now, this kind of made sense to me. But what do I do for the rest of the summer, sit on milk crates? Luckily Brigitte came to my rescue and shared a couple of sites with me about pallet furniture. This site is a pretty good representation of what she shared with me. Of course after seeing these sites, I had to make my own wooden pallet table.

I won't go into the gory construction details but I got my table made and I think that it will last me the entire season (and maybe some more). The pallets came courtesy of the local back alley and the legs for the table were abandoned from the furniture recycling program.And now that the table is done I keep thinking to myself, why don't more people do this kind of thing?

Naturally my thoughts went to students. We are just finishing up the Dump & Run on campus and there is a lot of furniture getting tossed into the garbage (Ikea is over represented by a factor of ten). Why not make more furniture out of pallets? Using pallets is a form of reuse / recycling; pallets are everywhere in the City; getting people to use their hands a bit more wouldn't be a bad thing.

The University of Ottawa has to manage thousands of pallets from the many deliveries to the campus. And the waste bins on campus are overflowing with cheap furniture that couldn't make it past one academic year. And the campus community does have a tonne of creative and industrious people that are willing to get their hands a little dirty.

So what do you think? Maybe the University could set up a workshop space for students to make some pallet furniture? Maybe we could post a community created DIY catalogue of all the different furniture people could make? Maybe we could start a movement to wake people up to the fact that nothing is waste?

One of the biggest arguments that I have gotten about this idea is that the furniture wouldn't be stylish enough and that we would be perpetuating an image of student poverty (the poor student can't afford real furniture). Hogwash!!! - or whatever vegan alternative to this phrase fits better. I think that pallet furniture is just as stylish as any other and Ikea alternative. In today's society, being green is sexy.

~jon - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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