Tires are one of the most common and ugliest forms of plastic pollution. Nothing quite says "vacant lot" like a bunch of old rubber lying around. Not to mention the many tire piles that litter the sides of our highways and causeways throughout the country.
One of the most detrimental impacts from used tires isn’t their ugly appearance. Without proper tire disposal, they release deadly chemicals as they break down, polluting the environment and making nature’s job harder.
We all know rubber does not biodegrade. Without creative innovation, it is easy to assume these tires will be dirtying up our environments forever. Not necessarily though. Tires are recyclable, and there are loads of crafts and designs and repurposes that we can reuse tires for.
If you aren't interested in making crafts, you might be curious about the best way to recycle old tires. Learn all about tire recycling and more in our article below.
8 Things to Do with Old Tires
Those scrap tires don't need to lay fallow forever. Check out these fun ideas for old tires.
1. Make a Tire Belt
If you've ever tried to tighten your belt and had it break into two pieces, then you know how fragile leather belts can be. You can get two, maybe three years maximum out of a good leather belt. So why not use a material that never breaks down?
This YouTube video shows you how to make a belt out of an old BMX tire. You can repeat this process with any size tire and a box cutter, adjusting the length and thickness to your specifications. If you want to get fancy, you can even add a stylish belt buckle.
2. Dig a Tire Garden
The reason we want to recycle tires is to protect the earth. Why not take that a step further and use them to benefit her? A home garden can capture extra carbon from the atmosphere and decrease our reliance on industrialized farming's eco hazards.
There are several uses for a tire in a garden. You can start by using them as a flower bed.
Fill the tire with dirt and get to planting. You can also cut them up and use them to line a wooden bed. Tires make great borders for a garden as well. Cut them in half and line them up to section off different parts.
3. Hang a Tire Swing
Do you have a tall tree with some strong branches in your backyard? Then endless fun is just a tire away. All you will need for this project is a tire, a tree, and a rope. Climb up the tree and secure the tire to its strongest branch.
When you imagine a tire swing, you probably think of a vertical hole for you to stick your legs through. We recommend keeping the tire parallel to the ground and then poking three holes at the top. This way, you just tie your rope into the tire, making it much easier to sit in the swing.
4. Use Tires for Exercise
Ever watched a strong competition or an NFL workout routine? If you do, you probably already know tires are regularly used for exercise. Their heavyweight feature and unusual shape make them perfect for building a wide assortment of muscle groups.
People exercise with larger tire models, like tractor or truck tires. However, there are plenty of exercises you can do with car tires as well. You can try planking with your feet on the tire or use it to hold your feet in place for some crunches.
5. Build an Earthship
One of the best ways that tires are being repurposed is for construction. We're not talking about a tire fort in the middle of the wilderness, but a good house with tires as its foundation and insulation between walls.
This type of construction is called an Earthship because they combine recycled materials and dirt (Earth) to create innovative living spaces. These homes are self-sustaining and remove dependence on public services. They emphasize preserving the earth and living in unison with our environment.
5. Make some Flip-Flops
The most common things people repurpose tires for are things made from rubber. You might remember the viral video from a few years ago of an African man making sandals from a tire. Today, the same process has become so popular that legitimate companies are using it for branding.
Indosole is a flip-flop company that advertises its use of tires as an example of its eco-friendly focus. But why buy flip-flops when you can make your own?
6. Design your Tire Furniture
We know what you're thinking: "Isn't tire furniture a little tacky?"
It doesn't have to be. New designs and ideas are released every month, and the furniture can look stylish in the right setting.
By attaching two tires and threading a bungee cord over the top, you could make a tire chair. With a couple of tires and a glass panel, you can make a lovely coffee table. If you don't like the exposed rubber look, you can add upholstery or line the outside of the tire with some rope.
7. Create Tire Art
Using old or recycled materials as a medium is becoming very popular in the art scene. Art can shape old vehicle tires into a wide variety of appealing shapes and figures. With a few simple cuts, you can create a beautiful swan or a dragon.
If you want to get creative, cut several tires into strips. You can use these to make even more complex designs and sculptures. Tired of black rubber? Slap a fresh coat of paint onto your tire to make it more beautiful.
8. Recycle Them
If you're not into DIY projects and just want to get your tires to a place where they won't pollute the environment, you have a few options:
How to Recycle Tires
Make the Tire’s Life Last Longer
One thing you can do with your old tires to have them retreaded by an auto shop or tire retailer so that they're as good as new tires. This process involves cutting and molding the tires so that it retains its grip for a longer time. The longer you use your tires, the less time they will spend in a waste dump or on the side of the road.
Shred the Tire
Shredded tires have many more purposes than their full-sized predecessors. Once a tire is shredded by the recycling facility, the tire material can be used for almost any process that requires rubber.
There is a particular type of rubber called tire-derived aggregate (TDA). TDA is used for filling barriers and reducing the vibrations under railroad tracks.
Tire shreds can also be used for tire-derived fuel (TDF), which has applications in cement manufacturing and electrical power utilities.
Before you can shred a tire, you'll need to de-bead it. Every tire has a steel bead, and a valve core inside that also needs to be recycled. There are many ways to de-bead a tire. It's up to you!
Another option for recycling tires is to cut them down to even smaller bits (about 12mm) and use them for rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is great for preventing accidents on the playground and in the horse riding world. Lining stables and tracks with rubber mulch makes the terrain much more forgiving on the horses' legs and hoofs.
Your tires don't need to pollute the environment. Apart from taking them to the local recycling center, you can make them into a swing, or a fancy new belt, or the other methods we mentioned above to make sure they don't end up in a landfill somewhere.
If you have an old car that you want to recycle, then you should try Junk Car Medics. We will buy your old vehicle (tires and all) at a reasonable price. After the car has been scrapped, all of its parts will go to good use, either to reuse or repurpose as new products.
We hope this article inspired you and remember that a tire is only a tire if you don't have an imagination.