Make a Compost Bin from Shipping Pallets!

Make a Compost Bin from Shipping Pallets!

Remember my DIY paver stone patio and walkway project from the summer? Well, those paver stones came to us stacked on (what else?) wood shipping pallets ... 'lotsodem. For a couple months, those pallets sat out behind our garage while I mulled over what to do with them. Neighborhood bonfire? Wild turkey shelter (yes, we have dozens of wild turkeys around)? Skate ramp (wait, I don't skateboard)? 

Then I stumbled on this post by John over at Young House Love and thought "Hey, I know! I'll do exactly the same thing he did!" So I did:

My new tools from Amazon.com

I started by unwrapping my new miter saw and cordless drill that I got from Amazon.com's Home Improvement store; actually, this was the best part of the whole project. 

Since this was going to be a simple box, I didn't really plan it out or measure; I just found a flat patch of dirt next to the driveway (sort of behind the garage), and stood the pallets on end to get a feel for how they'd go together.

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Fitting the pallets together

Next, I trimmed a few of the edges off and cut one pallet in half to make the front of the box (so I don't have to hoist yard junk and leaves quite as high when dumping them in). 

Then I just screwed the pieces together; for this I tried out a pair of Ansell ProjeX medium duty gloves I was sent for review. I'm a big fan of protecting my fingers, and only recently discovered that a good pair of dextrous work gloves really makes a difference (I always just used those one-size-fits-all yard gloves for everything). The Ansells felt really solid and well-constructed, and I especially like the little plastic knuckle guards on the back (even though it looks a little silly).
(Note: I wasn't paid for this reviewing these, just got a sample pair of gloves to try out).

Ansell ProjeX Series Medium Duty Glove

Here's the box nearly complete, sitting on the driveway:

Almost done with the box.

And here's the finished 'product' (if you can call it that):

Right now we're just using this for yard waste since we don't do a whole lot of food composting. It's not perfect (it'll probably fill up pretty quickly), but it's better than what we were doing before, which was dumping leaves and clippings in a pile under the lilac hedge. Plus, if and when it does fill up, we can easily tear it down and have that neighborhood bonfire I was talking about!

A nice, composty-smelling bonfire. Mmm ....

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Anonymous on Oct 13, 2014:

zero34, what made you sick, the part where you read about how there could be chemicals in the pallets or you had a personal experience with getting sick from your pallet and what you made with it.  You are dumb.  We live on a farm of 10 acres, we have stuff delievered all the time and keep our pallets for compost piles, stacking wood on for the fire place, getting things off the ground so they don't rot or collect rodents, snakes, critters that we don't want our girls being around.  Live a little!

SilverGoose on Oct 10, 2014:

Jessica, As long as you make sure the pallets have the "HT" on them, they should be just fine to use for anything......yes, ANYTHING! IF you do not see the "HT" on the pallets you want to use then, ASK! FEAR never accomplish's anything so, get on with it! 

Jessica on Sep 06, 2014:

Oh my anti pallet person.... Please tell me you don't EAT anything from the grocery store! Let's not even go into what's in some of that stuff!!! I think a little pallet chemical in our compost is the least of our worries at this point!

Anonymous on Apr 30, 2014:

Everyone is intitled to their opinion, but I think that's a little extreme, you can use grocery pallets with no worry of contamination.

Diana on Jan 31, 2012:

I really don't think pallets that have been used to ship stone or bricks would have been used before and I doubt there would be any harmful chemicals to spill on them.  I may try this project mainly for yard waste as I already have a composter for kitchen waste.  I will use the pallets that we got when we did our project using castle rock.  May send some of the completed compost in for soil sampling when it is done breaking down.

tracyoh on Nov 11, 2011:

I think it looks like a great idea. =)

zero34 on Oct 31, 2011:

NOOOOOOOooooooooo!!!! DON'T DO IT!!


you have NO idea where that pallet has been, what's been shipped on it, what has leaked on it, what it's been treated with, or ANY of those kinds of itterations!

I used to be a big proponent of reusing palettes, and then I read up on some of the chemicals that may be harboring in the wood of those palettes, and it made me sick to my stomach, the LAST thing I'd do is use it for a compost bin, not knowing what may be leaching into the compost that you'd then use in a garden?!? NO THANKS!


Quite honestly, I don't think i'd do ANYTHING with a shipping palette! I wouldn't even use it as fire wood in a firepit, who knows what it leaches into the smoke we'd be inhaling! Personally, blogs about palettes should either be avoided, or come with SERIOUS warnings about such issues!

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