How to Turn Your Used Tires into Treasures

June 23rd, 2015 by

Tires of various sizes painted blue, green, orange, red, purple, and yellow and stacked on top of one another with plants in the center

There is nothing like buying something brand new. A new set of tires from any of your favorite tire stores in Albany, NY, can make even the most well worn car feel fresh.

But tires, like most products, have a shelf life so to speak. So, what can you do with them once they are no longer useful?

This is a practical question, and its answer can have a serious impact on the environment. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to you.

Upcycling: The End of Tire Trash?

If you stop and think about all the ways we use tires, it’s tough to imagine a world without them. Most people naturally think of cars when they think of tires, but tires are just as crucial to airplanes, commercial trucks, and emergency service vehicles. So, imagine if they never existed. Transportation, goods, and critical services would be no where near where they are today.

The good news is, tires aren’t going anywhere. In fact, tire manufacturers are investing big bucks into inventing new, concept tires of the future. Tires that can tackle just about any terrain, pneumatic (or airless) tires that will never suffer a puncture, even tires that can transform your car into a small craft able to move and float over significant amounts of water.

The trouble with tires is similar to the trouble with so many things that break or wear out: what do you do with them after they are no longer useful in their original state?

Historically, the answer has been to chuck them into landfills. Fortunately, we now know that doing so is detrimental to the environment, creating heaps of waste that then pollutes the air, soil, and water sources around it. There had to be a better way.

Enter the amazing phenomenon that is known as upcycling. Different from recycling, which reuses a part of a product in some new and practical way, upcycling reuses a product to create something aesthetically pleasing, while still being practical.

Tires, it turns out, have both outstanding recycling and upcycling potential. Read on for some fun and easy ways to transform your tire trash into treasure.

A Treasure Trove of Tires

While I try to avoid writing in cliches, when it comes to reusing and upcycling tires, the possibilities truly are endless. Below you will find just a few of the more popular ones seen lately, with some helpful tips on how to recreate them yourself. No doubt, you can come up with your own ideas, too.

All it takes is a little imagination and a lot of tire trash…

Playground Fun

Who doesn’t love a tire swing?

They’re easy to fashion and fun to use. Lots of people have repurposed worn out tires by building tire swings, jungle gyms, climbing walls, and other constructions for kids to play on and explore.

Check out your community’s playground or recreational center the next time you visit. Chances are you’ll spot similar creations made from tires, and if you look closely, it’s very likely that the track and other athletic grounds are made from, or at least covered by, tire material.

Rather than small pebbles and stones, the grounds of some play areas are actually made from shredded tires, which are cushiony and certainly softer to stumble on, reducing the risk of skinned knees and elbows.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Used tires are also excellent materials for gardening, landscaping, and home improvement purposes because they are durable and waterproof.

Depending on your landscaping needs, used tires can be cut to make flower and garden beds, pathways and borders. You can even cut tires and fashion them into stepping stones or a tough, skid-resistant stairway, leading from one part of your property to another.

Some people even use tires to line existing stairways and steps because the tread creates more dependable footholds, particularly in wet or icy weather.

Probably the first and most common use for old tires in a garden continues to be planters. You can take a single tire and plant flowers within it, or stack tires and plant flowers or small trees that require a deeper bed.

Some farm-to-table chefs, meaning chefs who grow the ingredients they cook with, are using old tires to help them achieve their culinary ambitions. And you can, too, by following the simple steps outlined in Chef Teca Thompson’s short video.

Locate a used tire and decide whether you want to paint it to camouflage the fact that it is a tire or to highlight it by using bright, fun colors that will stand out in your garden.

Find a sunny or shady spot for it, based on the needs of whatever you intend to plant.

Line the inside of the tire with rocks to support drainage. Cover the rocks with a soft mesh material to keep the soil from washing away when you water your plants. Fill the tire with soil, and add your plants and seeds.

You now have more than a garden. You have a work of art and a conversation piece.

Fashion Forward – Tires are Trending

From humble beginnings, the use of tires in the fashion world is on the rise. When you don’t have much, you use what you have. In some third world economies, used tires are in abundance, but not much else. Some communities began using them to make shoes, since the material repels water and is strong enough to protect feet from the elements and all-terrain surfaces.

Major corporations, like Timberland, known for their boots and rugged outdoor wear, have partnered with Omni, a global tire manufacturer, in a cross-industry business plan that essentially reserves the new tires from Omni for future use in Timberland products.

But plenty of at-home and DIY artisans are taking old tires and using them to make belts, handbags, cuffs, and various other types of jewelry and accessories.

If you have a flair for fashion, try your hand at the new tire trend.

Durable Dreams – Tires as Pet Beds

The latest new use for old tires, which combines recycling and upcycling, comes from the functional design of beautiful pet beds.

What a wonderful way to give old tires new life and treat your pet to a one-of-a-kind custom space to snooze.

The idea is simple – doesn’t it seem like the best ideas are usually the simplest?

Find an old tire and clean it thoroughly with soap and water to remove any old dirt and debris.

Tires, as you know, come in all sorts of sizes. Consider the size of your pet and choose a tire accordingly.

Next, decide on a fun paint color, maybe something to match a certain room or even coordinate with your pet’s collar, and spray paint the tire.

Once dry, stuff the inside of the tire with either an already crafted dog bed, purchased from a pet supply store, or use an old pillow, blanket, whatever you think your pet will prefer. And whatever you think will look the best. Remember, this is functional art. It serves a purpose, thanks to recycling, but should also look artful in the spirit of upcycling.

Since tires are perfectly portable, you can move your creation around as needed. Protect your floors from the tire’s surface by affixing adhesive felt pieces to the underside of your pet’s bed.

And there you have it – a decorative, yet cozy new spot for your beloved pet. The inside is soft and warm, while the outside is tough and durable – ideal for busy pets and chew-happy puppies, especially.

Your pet will love it!

When it comes to recycling and upcycling used tires, we’ve really just scratched the surface here. It seems like everyday someone discovers a new opportunity to recycle or upcycle tires.

Don’t miss your chance to protect the environment and transform tire trash into a treasure of your own.


Posted in NY