Pal­let power fires busi­ness


Piles of wooden pal­lets have been pop­ping up out­side homes in Porirua.

It’s the work of Can­nons Creek res­i­dent Daphne Swin­ton.

Over the past three years, Swin­ton has di­verted thou­sands of used wooden pal­lets away from land­fills, and given them to hun­dreds of fam­i­lies to use for fire­wood or build­ing ma­te­rial.

With five chil­dren aged be­tween 4 and 12, she started the ini­tia­tive af­ter see­ing a public no­tice about free pal­lets and saw them as a way to look af­ter her grow­ing fam­ily.

‘‘I did it for me and the kids re­ally. I thought, ‘how am I gonna keep us warm? This whare gets quite cold.’’

Hous­ing NZ had sug­gested putting in car­pet or a heat pump, but she was wor­ried the kids might dirty the car­pet, ‘‘and the fire­place heats the house so I may as well stick with that’’.

She calls the not-for-profit busi­ness Pal­let Cre­ations, which was a fi­nal­ist for a sus­tain­abil­ity award last year.

‘‘In the first six months, it just went boom.

‘‘You just have to stop and lis­ten to what peo­ple are say­ing to you.’’

She writes down peo­ple’s names, and tells pack­ag­ing com­pany Sealed Air so they can pay to have a truck de­liver the pal­lets.

Swin­ton said about 10 peo­ple a month from her wait­ing list get about 500 pal­lets de­liv­ered be­tween them.

Over the past three years, she es­ti­mated it would have saved the com­pany thou­sands of dol­lars in land­fill fees.

‘‘There’s a house up the road, the neigh­bours.

‘‘He had a lit­tle fence, you could step over it.

‘‘He saw some of the pal­lets and asked, ‘ hey, could we use those?’.

‘‘They got to­gether, they’re a big fam­ily, and built a whole fence around the house.

‘‘They would break down whole pal­lets and re-use ev­ery­thing, and all the lit­tle left­overs went for fire­wood.’’

Only un­treated pal­lets can be used as fire­wood, and she has to be care­ful about where they get dropped off be­cause of any fire risks to houses.

Swin­ton asks for a $20 do­na­tion, if pos­si­ble, to help cover the bills.

Other pal­lets get turned into ev­ery­thing from sand­pits to chicken coops at homes and schools such as Pukerua Bay and Corinna.

She re­cently got per­mis­sion to store a pile at her lo­cal marae, Horouta Ki Poneke Marae.

It’s good tim­ing be­cause she is about to ex­pand to help dis­trib­ute an­other com­pany’s pal­lets - but they wished to re­main anony­mous.

‘‘It’s keep­ing fam­i­lies warm. And the kids help out with the pal­lets. They like to build things.’’

Pukerua Bay School pupils Ben, Billy, Alex and Paikea en­joyed build­ing with the re­cy­cled pal­lets. At right, Pal­let Cre­ations di­rec­tor Daphne Swin­ton with her chil­dren, Dayle, 6 , Jenifer, 9, and Tukukino de Har, 4.

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