Woman’s NYC Coveted Backyard Renovation Splits Views


It’s rare to land an apartment with a backyard in New York City, and one woman sharing the process of renovating her coveted space has gone viral on TikTok, but with mixed reviews.

In the TikTok video posted by Celina, @celistudios, with over 453,000 views, the poster said that she and her friends have just moved into a New York apartment with a sizable paved backyard, and are in the process of renovating it.

“We had big dreams for her,” the text explains, adding, “we wanted wooden pallets to make outdoor furniture so we went to Lowe’s [home-improvement company] cause I heard that they had free pallets but they said they didn’t have any. But we knew we could find them for free if we just drove a little.”

The video shows Celina hitting what she describes as the jackpot and finding a large stack of pallets outside the back of a store.

A street scene in New York City. A woman has shared her experience of renovating her enviably large garden in NYC, to mixed reviews.
Argelis Rebolledo/Getty Images

Pallets have become a popular material for people wanting to create some trendy DIY furniture. However, although they may look like trash, unless clearly thrown away, they are likely earmarked for sale or another use, and part of a fairly lucrative business. Used Pallet Recycling advertises that it buys used pallets from businesses for up to $8 per pallet, and will even pick up broken ones for free.

The poster said: “So we loaded as many as we could into my poor boyfriend’s car. They were all sitting outside by the trash so we assumed we could take them.” With the help of her housemates and her mother who was visiting, they managed to turn a concrete jungle into a sunny oasis, complete with furniture, fake turf and fairy lights.

Several users loved the renovation and suggested additions, such as “Add a projector, grill and hot tub!”

“A wall fountain would look amazing out there. Looks so good already!” posted another user.

Some viewers, however, criticized Celina’s methods and materials. “Pallets aren’t free just if they’re sitting out,” wrote one.

“Hopefully you checked to see if those pallets were free before you took them,” commented another.

Another user on TikTok wrote: “FYI [For your information] babe turf is super toxic, has a lot of PFAS.” This is the abbreviation of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are also known as ‘forever chemicals’ and are commonly found in Astroturf.

“Some PFAS have been linked to a higher risk of harm to the immune system, such as reduced vaccine efficacy; harm to development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increased risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer; and effects on metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain,” reports the Environmental Working Group.

“It should be cautioned that pallets stored outside of a small business are not necessarily ‘free for the taking’,” reports Reusable Packaging News. “The pallet collector should receive permission from the business owner before removing pallets. Once you have established a relationship with the proprietor, however, the pallet enthusiast may often be given blanket permission to come by and pick up empty pallets.

“One cautionary note is the issue of pallet markings. If the pallet has an ownership stamp on it, such as CHEP, PECO, iGPS, Coca-Cola, U.S. Postal Service, or others, these pallets should not be removed,” adds the news outlet. “Such organizations claim to vigorously enforce the property rights to their pallets, and you may find yourself charged with unlawful possession of them.”

Newsweek reached out to Celina via email for comment.

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