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.