Monday, June 2, 2014

Eco-Friendly DIY Project Materials PLUS: Red Flags to Look for When Up-cycling Wood Pallets

We all strive to be healthy, full of vitality, and happy.  And in addition to all the daily routines we’ve adopted to ensure such health, we must also consider our homes and communities and what we do to promote the use eco-friendly materials. The easiest way to tackle this is through our DIY improvement projects. While there are many non-eco friendly materials out there in the market today, conversely, there are also many eco-friendly materials out there that work just as well as their non-eco friendly counterparts, if not better.

These eco-friendly materials often include hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, cardboard that has been recycled, cork, recycled glass, recycled plastic, and one of everyone’s favorites – used pallets. While many of these items might seem strange to use at first in terms of DIY improvement projects, many who start using them actually prefer them once they become accustomed. These eco-friendly versions are healthy to use, don't make anyone sick, and actually look pretty amazing when used for a variety of different DIY improvement projects since they incorporate an entirely different look to every project that is extremely unique and very pretty.

In terms of using hemp, many people are jumping to use this eco-friendly material because it is biodegradable and renewable. It is extremely strong as well as very versatile. The best thing about hemp is that it can be used as rope, paper, and even fuel! Another eco-friendly material that has been gaining in popularity as of late is cork. Many people are choosing to use cork in their DIY improvement projects because it can truly create spectacular products such as unique and trendy totes, as a wall covering, as a floor covering, etc. Corks integrate an interesting looking design concept into an eco-friendly exercise on sustainability. Recycled glass is also becoming the go-to material for a variety of eco-friendly items such as countertops, jewelry, new cups, new plates, etc. There is just so much to be done with utilizing glass in DIY improvement projects!

A favorite of many folks lately has been the use of pallets in craft and do it yourself projects. However you may want to watch out for these possible contaminants related to the different types of wood used to make pallets before you put on your weekend warrior regalia.

Pressure treated and fumigated wood
Some pallet manufacturers use pressure to force chemicals like formaldehyde into the wood to prevent decay and pest infestation. However, you may not want to use these chemical-treated pallets inside your house, for this reason. Also, fumigated wood is treated with pesticides, which also isn’t great from a health standpoint.

There are plenty of pallets that are not made from pressure treated or fumigated wood.

If you aren’t sure how to identify pressure-treated wood, one way to identify the pallets you may want to avoid using in home decor and furniture projects, is to look for the IPPC logo found on most pallets. Near this logo, if you find:

HT – This means the pallet was possibly heat treated with harmful chemicals.
MB – This indicates that the pallet was fumigated with a toxic pesticide, methyl bromide. You may see this mark on some older pallets, as this process is currently not used by most pallet manufacturers.

You also may want to consider the source of your pallets (however companies tend to reuse pallets, so this may be hard to determine) and what types of contamination your pallets may have been exposed to. Things such as water, mold, vermin, insects, chemicals, and even bacteria such as E. coli and Listeria have been found on pallets.

If you are unsure, you can always do a thorough cleaning of the wood and paint a couple coats of clear coat to seal in any possible contaminants.

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