What’s so special about recycling old tires? Well, this question is an easy one to answer.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States generates almost 300 million used tires each and every year.
If you think that’s a lot of rubber, you’re right on the money. And despite the fact that tire recycling is a relatively easy thing to do and it requires little effort, only 7 percent of the aforementioned 300,000,000 used tires are actually put to good use. Let me explain these figures to you.
Approximately 11 percent of the 300 million used tires are used for fuel, less than 7 percent are actually recycled and 5 percent are exported to other countries. That sums it up pretty good, folks.
I mean, hundreds of millions of old tires are just stockpiled every year, or worse: thrown away randomly by irresponsible people, wasting away in the sun thus polluting the environment or sent away to the landfills.
Old tires are an immense problem that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. Meanwhile, it gets worse every year.
The good news is that the same characteristics which make old tires so problematic (the large volume produced, their durability, cheapness, resilience and bulk) also make them hugely desirable for improving your homestead.
Yes, you got that right: Old tires can be a benefit or a hazard. Everything depends upon one’s imagination.
I don’t know about you, but I love using free stuff for improving my homestead, and used tires are basically free and almost infinite resources, readily available regardless of your location and fairly easy to put to good use around your retreat.
OK, you can’t use tires for building spaceships; however, they’re excellent as building material/building blocks and more if you’re imaginative, skilled and you enjoy working with your hands.
Clever Tips for Recycling/Reusing Tires
Keep in mind the following fact: Old tires left lying around your property are a breeding ground for mosquitos and other pests, thus presenting a clear and present danger to you and your family’s health.
Tires will catch rainwater and they’ll be transformed into those small and shallow cesspools mosquitos need to live in, breed and survive. So make sure you store old tires inside, before you decide what you’ll use them for.
Another fact: it can be dangerous for one’s health to grow food in old tires. Cadmium is a poisonous heavy metal (Not like that band, Metallica. I’m talking chemistry here) which is used in tire construction and it can be absorbed in various quantities by plants growing in tires. If you’re using tires as planters, don’t grow edible plants inside them.
I would recommend you use older tires (as old as possible) around your homestead. Old tires are way better for your health, as they had enough time to oxidize, i.e. they already released the bulk of the toxic chemicals used in their construction.
You know that distinctive “flavor” of new tires? Old tires are basically odorless since they’ve been exposed to the oxygen in the atmosphere for a long time. So use them after they’re aged properly.
Just like with good wine, a good tire is an elderly tire, safety-wise.
Let me share with you some ingenious ideas about old tire recycling for improving your homestead.
1. You can use old tires in your garden as planters for non-edible vegetables. All you have to do is stack them up and fill them with dirt, thus creating raised planters at almost zero costs to you. Due to their dark color, tires absorb the sun’s heat very efficiently, thus helping plants thrive. If you choose to hang the tires on a wall, i.e. on a vertical surface and fill just the bottom with dirt, you’ll end up with very interesting wall planters.
2. Old tires are great for building walls and various structures. The concept is to use tires as building blocks, by filling them with dirt and stacking them together, creating a wall-like structure. The best thing about these structures is that they will cost you next to nothing and they’re also very strong, i.e. bulletproof and earthquake-proof. All you need is enough dirt and a source of free tires (no need for steel reinforcements, nor mortar) and the rest is up to you. You’ll have to fill the tires with earth and compact it thoroughly using a sledgehammer to pound the tires vigorously. Next, you’ll build the wall itself using staggered courses, just like in this video.
3. You can build an excellent composter from old tires. Here’s a detailed video about how to create an effective and free-of-charge compost bin/worm farm using car tires.
4. You can make mats/rugs. Shredding old tires provides you with the perfect material for DIYing waterproof, durable and slip-proof floor mats/rugs for various outdoor and indoor applications.
5. You can build outdoor/indoor furniture using old tires. Here’s a video with a few creative examples.
6. In case of an emergency, you can manufacture sandals/footwear from old tires — using only a knife plus a little bit of elbow grease and skills. Here’s the tutorial. They don’t look like they were made by Gucci, but they’ll last you for at least a season and they’re definitely better than running around in the woods barefoot.
7. You can build a roof. Here’s a house which has been “eco”-roofed using good, old tires as roof shingles.
8. You can create wallets, bags, belts or “jewelry” from recycled tires.
9. Make your kids happy by using recycled tires on their playground! You can build safe and durable swings from old tires or, with a little bit of skill and creative thinking, you can create an entire playground from this stuff.
If you have interesting ideas about old tire recycling for your homestead, please share your suggestions in the dedicated section below.