So the New Year has hit, and all those resolutions you made are starting to go into effect. Eat less. Exercise more. Clean up the world. Balance that checkbook. Clear out that credit card debt. Oh, and get rid of those old used tires sitting in the backyard. But then you think to yourself, “hey, didn’t the EPA release some statistic about how we already have 500-800 million scrap tires in garbage dumps across the country already? Why would I want to add to that whole mess?” Remember that third resolution you made to clean up the world.
The next question you ask is, “if I don’t want to toss these useless tires in the dump but try to ‘go green’ as it is, what can I do with these things?” The good news is, lots. With a little bit of creativity, and a small amount of work in some cases, these tires can still be used for good long past their previous life as road warriors.
1. Sell It Back
Sell it back? Yes, that’s right, there is such a thing as a used tire store and a used tire market. Now, that’s not to mean the used tire you have with no tread left, or the one with a giant goose-egg bulge on the side, is worthy of reselling. But a gently used tire that still has some life in it may be worth a couple bucks to someone. Check with the small mom-and-pop used tire stores in your city or, better yet, take matters into your own hands with a Craigslist or Ebay ad and see your trash turned to treasure.
2. Recycle It
Yes, you can still “go green” and get rid of the things. There are many state and local recycling ventures in America. Some states even charge a recycling tax on new tires to help support these ventures. Do a web search for tire recycling plants in your area, and send them off to be made mulch!
3. Make a Tire Swing
Everyone has fond childhood memories of swinging out over the yard in a tire swing precariously tied to the tree by a well-meaning Dad, or being spun around so much in one of those things you almost lost your lunch. If you have kids, this is a great use for an old tire. Get a sturdy rope, find a strong, live branch in a tree several feet up, get yourself a drill with a 1” or more paddle bit, and go to town drilling into the tire to thread the rope through. Make sure it is secure before ever letting children play on it though!
4. Race It Down a Hill
Really? Sure, why not? If you have kids to motivate you to make a tire swing, then why not grab all four of those old tires, find a big hill and let’em run, seeing who’s tire crosses the finish line first. Caution, do NOT do this on a city street! Preferably find a hill in a field somewhere, or the cops are likely to find you!
5. Make a Sandbox
The great thing about a tire is that it is perfectly round, several inches deep, waterproof and takes decades to decompose. This is outstanding material for a child’s sandbox. Plop it down on it’s side, drive some stakes through it to secure it to the ground, then fill it with a few bags of sand and let the little ones have at it. If you don’t have kids, then your cat would probably enjoy it as well.
6. Build a Fort
Assuming you have a small mountain of tires, this next project may be for you. Take those tires and stack them in a staggered formation to form “walls” for a children’s fort, with room for windows and doors even! However, you don’t want the castle falling in on them. Get your drill out and some nuts, bolts and washers, then start drilling holes between the adjacent walls to secure them together with your hardware. This will make a formidable fort even Custer would’ve been happy to use!
7. Make a Garden Planter
This is similar to the sandbox idea, but instead, fill it with dirt and then plant some petunias or potatoes in them. This can be a great solution for isolated, ready-to-go raised bed garden planters. You can even take some paint and put a nice pastel touch to it to really add to the decor. Another alternative is to mount the tire on a wall and have the dirt and flower in the bottom of the tire well.
8. Plant a Tree In It
Now this might seem tacky to some, but in my city I have actually seen this done. Secure the tire to the ground and plant a sapling in the middle of it, and watch it grow. It has the benefit of being a natural barrier to wayward children and hungry lawnmowers that might otherwise end the life of your defenseless little tree. Although, without adding some paint to the tire, it may be a bit on the ugly side.
9. Pull It
Time to use these tires for that second resolution and get some exercise out of it. Tying a rope about 6-8 feet long around one side of the tire and then dragging it behind you for a fair distance can be great exercise. The weight of the tire alone, coupled with the resistance of that rubber against the ground, makes for some great cross training! Caution though, if you have a nice yard, do this in a dirt lot or field. Your grass will thank you.
10. Jump In It
Continuing on in the exercise usage, another great use for an old tire is to jump in it. How? Set the tire to lay flat, then position yourself next to it about 1-2 feet with your feet together. Jump and swing your feet over to land in the middle of the tire. Do it again and land on the other side of the tire from where you started. Repeat that for 10-20 minutes and your calves will be burning!
11. Garage Bumper
Have kids but they are beyond the sandbox stage? How about teenagers who are in the driving stage who sometimes get a little too close to the garage wall when parking? Use the old tire as a bumper to protect those walls from getting crushed by your kids, or set them in a row across the garage to show them to go this far and no farther.
12. Make a Chair
This is where things get a bit creative. You can look at some Pinterest boards depicting chairs made from old tires. They are pretty impressive. Here’s the key. When you look at that dirty old tire, don’t see a tire; see a brand new, rope-weaved stool to sit on. Then go to a craft store, find your favorite sturdy weaving material, and start wrapping that tire up to make a nice, soft seated stool. Prior to beginning your wrap, make sure to position some stool legs by sinking the bolts into the rubber walls and securing it with the proper bolts on the inside. Once that thing’s wrapped, you aren’t going to be able to get inside that tire again.
13. Dog Toy
Finally, if all else fails, old Sparky might have a home for it. You can just give it as is, or tie a rope to let them chew on it or try to pull it around. You can also, if you have a shovel and some energy, dig a hole a couple feet down, bury half the tire upright and leave the top half exposed, and let the dog run, jump and bounce off the embedded tire to his little heart’s delight.
I hope you find something useful to do with those old tires in 2013. There’s always a better home for them than the garbage dump. Just be a little bit creative and you may find those old tires are no longer junk but have even more uses than the list above could name.
Please do note that these suggestions are only that — suggestions — and are not in any way a full manual of all the steps and safety precautions needed for any of these projects. We take no responsibility for any injury that may result. The reader implements these things at his/her own risk, but by all means have fun doing it!
Dan Sem, holds a BA in Journalism from Truman State University. He has a desire to write away on all manner of topics, including consumer tires, commercial truck tires, creative uses for old products, mobile and manufactured homes and more!