6 Uses for Those Old Whitewalls

No, they don’t have to be whitewalls, but I know that sometime in the near future you will have an old tire to get rid of. I’m not the most eco-friendly gal in the bunch, but I do hate waste (and that nasty tire disposal fee they charge when you buy a new one.) So without further ado, here are the best ways I’ve found for putting those old rubber rings to good use:

1. Flower planters – There are so many adorable and trendy ways to make flower beds, planters, and gardens by simply using old tires. An undecorated, clean tire can be filled with topsoil and placed in a sunny area for growing flower and tomatoes faster than using soil alone! Those with patios or small apartment decks might like the dozens of designs for do-it-yourself tire planters to match all decors. Durable, and unlikely to be dug up by dogs or blown away in storms, your plants will find a safe haven in your old tire.

2. Backyard play equipment – Sure, we’ve all had fun on a tire swing, but have you tried a horse swing? Made from tires and a few hardware staples, this is the swing to have!Big kids (you know who you are) can enjoy a good giddyup from a tree or sturdy swingset.

3. Fountains, Waterfalls, and more – Did you know that it is possible to use the walls of rubber tires to create beautiful 3-tiered fountains for your outdoor landscape? You could even create a fish pond full of koi with your unwanted tires. Bubbling water décor can be made from old tires and less than $30 of supplies!

4. Composter – Maybe you know that you should be composting, and that it is a very responsible way to dispose of and reuse garden refuse and vegetation waste. While it can be a pain to make your own composter, using tires makes it very simple and super cheap!

5. Sandals – Don’t go trading in your Birks for these tire-inspired models just yet. While wildly popular in some countries south of the border, these homemade sandals haven’t quite caught on here in the States. I’ll admit, they look comfy, and those that wear them swear by their ability to allow air to circulate (thus eliminating nasty, sweaty bacteria and yeast to thrive). A sort of Teva-style knock-off from tires and nylon strapping, these sandals can be made from instructions found at Hollowtop.com .

6. Home sweet home – I have learned that it is possible to use landfill tires and other discarded rubber products to build an energy-efficient home! Obviously more than a weekend project, home-building with tires has been around for over a decade, and the designs just get better each year. A good place to start is The Tire House Book, and if unsure of making that kind of commitment, you can design a small shed or garage to get started.

This is just six of the dozens of ideas for reusing tires (sometimes called “tirecrafting”.) A simple online search will get you hundreds of free resources to get you started. Some of the designs are so simple, and no one would ever guess that the finished project started out as an old tire. Other uses include lawn and garden edging, retaining walls, portable coldframes, solar raised bed planters, and sandboxes. There is also a super book called Tire Recycling Is Fun.

I should note that over the years there has been concern about the toxins in tires that may be released over time into the surrounding soil. While moving the tires every 5 years should prevent any unwanted leeching of the zinc that is contained within tires, you may paint your tires with a toxin-free sealant to be on the safe side. More information on this topic can be found in an article by the Countryside and Small Stock Journal .

One other word of warning is on storing the tires. Please do not lay old tires outside where they can collect water. Since standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos, you will not be doing anyone a favor by allowing rainwater to collect in abandoned tires. Keep them inside in a dry, cool place, and they will be ready to go for your next tirecrafting project!

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Guest's picture

Also, if you're near a BJ's, the standard tire disposal fee (even if you don't buy a new tire) is only a buck.

Jessica Okon's picture

obstacle course!

Guest's picture

I think there are some places where you can actually recycle old tires.