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Eco-Friendly Pallet Solutions for Winter

28 Oct 2014

Even the best pallets have a limited lifetime. They may be made of the best heat-treated wood, conform to national and international standards and may even be well maintained by their various users. But the time comes when a pallet is no longer fit for load-bearing purposes, and its owner has to find a way of disposing of it.

It is not an option to send an old or broken plastic pallet to a landfill, although some plastics manufacturers can recycle the plastic into other goods. Old wooden pallets in reasonably good condition can find a new life as cheap furniture or, as a last resort, as fire wood.

But how about using the pallet to provide a creature with a winter home? Obviously, these will be small creatures and not the lively foxes and squirrels that live at the back of many gardens. They will, in fact, be insects.

Competition

The idea was launched by the Royal Horticultural Society and the Wildlife Trust during the September Wild About Gardens Week. Their idea was to run a competition to find some of the best home-made homes for insects.

Building a bug hotel is not always at the top of many people’s wish list, but kids like bugs and this is one competition they will enjoy. The world also needs bugs. These creatures need to hibernate in winter to wake up in the spring and pollinate the growing flowers, vegetables and fruits. We would all starve without them.

Structure and Supplies

Pallets are the first things needed. About four will do and they may be made of wood or plastic. These pallets will form the horizontal structure of the bugs’ hotel. You will also need some bricks to use as props for the four pallets levels.

You also need to find some plastic bottles; the best size would be two-litre bottles. Take a look out into the garden to see if you can find some bamboo canes; there are always a few left lying about on garden verges that were used for beans, lilies and even roses. These canes have to be cut into the correct size to fit inside the plastic bottles.

Other supplies needed would be straw, old leaves, old tiles, cardboard, some stones or pebbles and a few loose twigs or bark.

Building Process

Set the bottom pallet on six bricks and then put more bricks on top of it. Add another pallet and then repeat until you have used up all of the pallets. This is your hotel and it should take about 30 bricks in all.

Next cut the plastic bottle in half. Fill one of halves with the rolled-up cardboard and the other with the bamboo canes. Place these at various points in the pallet-brick hotel. Fill in the remaining spaces in the hotel with all of the stones, leaves, twigs, straw and loose bark. You can also add any old bits of carpet or clothing and maybe a toilet roll tube and even an old plant pot.

Everyone Has a Home

The result is a snug hotel full of little crannies for the bugs to curl up in for winter. Bees love the holes in old bamboo canes, while stag beetle larvae will enjoy the dead wood and twigs. The little crevices under the bits of bark make ideal hiding places for woodlice and centipedes. Spiders will enjoy lurking there too.

For a visual guide and more on the competition, take a look here! http://www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/Downloads/Build-a-bug-hotel

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