America is overrun with tires. They are one of our biggest disposal headaches. Approximately 1 billion tires are manufactured yearly, while far fewer ever get recycled. They present problems due to their size, weight, and materials. Many end up in a landfill.
A pile of tires will collect water and become a great breeding ground for mosquitoes. Other vermin, such as snakes and rats, will habit these tires. They also are a target for vandalism; if set on fire, they emit dangerous gases into the atmosphere and this fire is very difficult to extinguish. Even hosing a tire fire will cause dangerous runoff. What can you do with these tires?
When you buy new tires, make sure the old ones are disposed properly. For a small fee, the dealer will often send them to a recycling factory. Many states require this. Disposal sites and transfer stations often have an amnesty day where you can drop off your old tires for no charge. If you are industrious, you can create a business collecting these old tires and selling them to a retreading business. What else can you do with old tires?
For Younger Kids
You have undoubtedly seen a tire tied to a tree to create a swing. Apart from the nostalgia of that, think of some adaptations. Cut the tire in half or a third for a swing seat. Fasten the tire with chains bolted to the two sides. You can also hang the swing horizontally, fastening chains to the two sides and “back.” Consider painting or decorating the tire.
Your kids will love a tire jungle. Stack various size tires randomly on each other, decorated or painted in different colors. You may want to fill some with dirt to provide a “floor” inside the tire. More conventionally, turn various size tires into a sandbox.
For Older Kids
Design a bike rack: cut several tires in half, place them upside down, and join them together with strips across the bottoms front and back, slightly spaced apart. Alternately, bury half of the tire in the ground or in sand. Cut a large tractor or truck tire in two, fasten a board across the flat cuts and suddenly you have a teeter-totter. For still one more inventive reuse, build a climbing wall.
Place tires around the yard or in the garden and use as planters. Let your creativity come to the fore by decorating these tires to either fit in or stand out artistically. Mount them on legs for an even more striking look. You can also fasten tires to an outside wall, fill the bottoms with dirt and start growing some hanging plants. Elsewhere around the garden, you can make old tires into rubber chairs and tables.
Cut wide strips of tire and nail or fasten to outside stairs to prevent slipping. Weave strips of tire together to form a doormat or a mat in the garage. Use pieces of tire as ground cover to prevent nasty weeds from growing where you do not want them. Recycle the tires into roof shingles.
For Your Pets
Tires, whole or cut down and filled with old blankets or other materials, make a great cat or dog bed. You can also turn one into a kitty litter box.
Around the House
Recycled tires have limited use inside the house because they are porous. Painting and shellacking may help, but they are not the best for flooring. Leave that for gyms and field tracks. However, there are some functional uses.
Trim off the rim of the tire and turn it into a mirror frame. This would look great in the bathroom. Below it, you could make the rim an edge around a circular sink. Either of these uses would make a great conversation piece for your guests. A picture frame would also be a good use for this rim. Install shelves inside a tire and hang on a wall for a knickknack display.
If you live in a small space and have nowhere to store you summer/winter tires, clean them off, bring them inside and build a table. Stack two or more, or set them on a stand, place something interesting like a light or some plants in the center and cover with a piece of glass. Another recycling use would be to construct an ottoman or footstool. Place a few tires on top of each other, wrap or glue wine, yarn or rope, inside and out or around; construct a top and decorate it similarly. Another interesting way to create the chair seat or footstool is to punch holes around the tire and weave colored ropes across like a conventional woven seat. Now you are ready to sit down and put your feet up.
Cut into strips, tires can serve as a chair rail or top off some wainscoting. Mold larger pieces into a bowl or a lined ice bucket. Weave strips over each other and create a basket.
Whatever way you recycle a tire, you are doing the environment a favor. Put your creativity to work and design something functional or artful. You not only will have fun, you will end up with something useful or decorative for your home.