Rather than make the environmentally harmful decision to toss your old tires in the dumpster, you have a chance to turn old rubber into brilliant home decor. Fires in landfills are growing increasingly more common, and when the rubber from these tires burns, it produces plumes of toxic smoke. It’s no wonder the EPA are urging people to repurpose. The next time your hubby orders motorcycle tires from BikeBandit.com to replace old tires in the garage, teach your family the value of reusing “garbage” by creating beautiful art.
You have probably seen them sitting in yards or remember your grandparents having one, but tires were the inspiration for container gardens long before repurposing was in vogue. They provide a decorative accent to the landscape while preventing critters and weeds from attacking plants. The concept is straightforward. Place a tire on the ground and fill it with fertile soil then plant your vegetables or flowers as you see fit.
Photo of tire planters by Valerie Everett via Flickr
Take a craftier approach by painting the outside of the tire planter a color that complements the exterior of the house and enhances curb appeal. You might secure a few tires to a fence or side of a structure, then pot blooming plants in the rim just like a flower box.
Nothing says fun quite like an old tire swing. If you have a sturdy tree and want to take a trip back to a simpler time, put up a swing for the kids. If you don’t have a tree handy, consider upcycling a vintage swing set instead.
Turn the yard into a playground with tires. Once you get the swing up, cut a tire in half and install a strong board on the open side. Screw handles to the board and create a rocker for a toddler or put another tire down on the ground and fill it with sand for digging.
Photo of tire tunnel by Don from USA via Wikimedia Commons
Older kids can have fun with tires, too. Use them to create an obstacle course and get them active. You can place three or four on the ground for sprints, stack them up with a board to create an elevated platform for sit-ups and push-ups or screw many tires together to build a climbing wall.
A tire is really just smooth rubber covered by tread. Once you pry off the tread, you open up a world of crafting possibilities.
Cut the rubber into strips and weave them into a door mat to welcome guests or paint the mat like a canvas for festive wall art. You may even fashion a rubber basket perfect for storing firewood, magazines or old books! Don’t throw away the tread you peeled off either. Use the excess to cover tabletops or add texture to an existing wall sculpture.
A greater number of people are turning repurposing into a business. Creative crafters are all over farmers’ markets and art shows. The aspiring entrepreneur in you might find an innovative way to use the rubber from tires and start a trend.
Photo of bike tire chairs by Christmas w/a K via Flickr
Whether you’re looking to sell your masterpieces or just want to do your part for the environment, old tires are an underused commodity. Before throwing one out, look around the house and find a way to put it to use instead. You might surprise yourself with your own creative endeavors.
Denise Jackson: Denise is an art major who works part time at a sustainable, fair trade gallery. She writes about art, culture and the environment.
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