Ways to Reuse and Recycle Your Old Tires

June 9th, 2015 by

When it comes to cars and the environment, the focus tends to revolve around alternative-fuel options offered by hybrid, hybrid plug-in, and electric cars.

But what is often overlooked is how to address the tire waste that clogs landfills to the detriment of the environment.

Fortunately, since the early 1990s, there has been a significant push to recycle and reuse tires in clever and creative ways.

The result is known as upcycling, a fancy term for turning trash into treasure.

If you have tires in Albany, check out these cool ways to repurpose them.

Who knows? These ideas might even inspire you to come up with a few new upcycling strategies of your own.

Tire Waste by the Numbers

tire trash

According to the most recent numbers published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the US generated 290 million scrap tires by the end of 2003.

Fortunately, during that same year approximately 80 percent, which means about an estimated 233 million tires were recycled, while 16.5 million were retreaded.

This is encouraging news and, though more recent numbers haven’t been published yet, it stands to reason that those statistics would only improve as new scrap markets and uses for recycled tires are created or discovered.

However, we have to remember that by the end of 2003, there were still about 27 million tires dumped into landfills.

This is not only damaging to the environment, but a serious missed opportunity.

Think about it.

Tires are made from rubber, which is a durable, waterproof, all-weather material, ideal for a multitude of purposes.

To avoid adding your old tires to that useless landfill heap, consider the following tire reinventions.

Recycled Tires for Recreational Purposes


There is a whole range of opportunities, from large commercial projects to small, DIY home improvements which repurpose old tires for recreational reasons.

Athletic training and competition grounds like running tracks, basketball and tennis courts can be made from recycled tires. So can bike racks and obstacle courses, ideal for cross-training.

Community playgrounds often feature large-scale climbing structures, jungle gyms, and even pathways that are made from old tires.

But, you can also reap these benefits at home by installing an old-fashioned tire swing, swing set, or see-saw.

When it comes to using tires for recreational purposes, you’re only limited by your own imagination.

You could possibly even build a sandbox or climbing structure, anything that you see on a public playground or recreation center can be recreated on your own property.

Speaking of your own private property, tires are excellent materials when it comes to gardening and landscaping your yard.

Refurbished Tires for Outdoor Embellishments


For gardening enthusiasts, recycled tires make excellent garden borders, retaining walls, and even framed flower beds.

You can take a tire, mount it on the side of your house, deck, shed, or door, fill the bottom with soil and plant flowers inside.

The result is a secure and unique flower bed positioned at eye level on a walled surface. The flowers sort of spill over the edges and make for an attractive conversation piece.

While old tires, either single or stacked, make excellent flower pots, you’ll want to reserve those for non-edible plants only.

Remember, tires contain chemicals, which you don’t want to risk seeping into any vegetables or fruits that you intend to harvest and consume.

Depending on the size of your yard, you can always construct an outdoor path and even a series of steps out of tire waste.

If you’re afraid that the presence of tires, either whole or in part, might cheapen the appearance of your landscape, don’t forget that you can always paint them.

When it comes to painting your tires, the possibilities for any project are endless and depend entirely on the overall look  you’re trying to achieve.

In fact, you can paint your tires to camouflage into the background by choosing matching and subdued colors.

Or, especially for play areas or funky garden plots, you can paint the tires various bright, “pop” colors to draw attention to your recreational construction or enhance whatever plants you’re growing in them.

Recycled tires can actually be cut and used as roof shingles, given the fact that they are waterproof.

But you don’t actually have to cut your own shingles in order to take advantage of this tire technology. Plenty of commercially fabricated roof shingles made from used tires are available for purchase.

In fact, some environmentally-conscious folks live in what are called “earthships,” one-hundred percent sustainable and self-sufficient homes in which tires are a central building material.

Actually, these kinds of dwellings have been used as part of rescue relief efforts in the wake of environmental crises, like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Barring anything catastrophic, and even if you are nowhere near as committed to green living as a typical earthship-dweller, tires offer endless outdoor embellishments for your home.

But, the fun doesn’t stop there.

Plenty of DIY tire projects are ideal for the inside of your home as well.

Reimagining Tires as Home Accents


Again, when it comes to repurposing used tires as home accents, your imagination is the only limitation.

Tires can be easily recycled into baskets for magazines or fireplace kindling and logs.

They can also be molded and shaped into beverage coolers and buckets, super-durable options for keeping drinks cold.

Floor mats made from recycled tires offer excellent, all-season protection.

Not to mention, the no-slip surface afforded by recycled tires when they are cut to size and laid over individual steps on a staircase.

Furniture options are numerous. If you can dream it, you can build it.

For example, tires make awesome tables, for indoor and outdoor use.

You can adjust the height of the table, depending on if you want a low coffee table or a high-top bistro-style table, by stacking tires accordingly.

Paint the tires whatever color you desire and top off the table with a glass surface for a sophisticated twist on what was essentially tire trash.

Rather than paint, you can always wrap your tires in colored fabric, jute, or hemp cord, for a different look and texture.


Take a look at these outdoor furniture creations, all made from tires, practically indestructible and absolutely eye-catching.

Okay, so we’ve looked at recreation and furniture…but what about fashion?

Tires as Fun and Functional Footwear

timberland tires

When it comes to cars and green automotive initiatives, we tend to throw the old carbon footprint phrase around.

With respect to those feet and footprints, several companies are manufacturing eco-friendly footwear.

Good for your soles, and your soul, companies like Indosole are taking tire waste and using it to create new shoe soles.

Perhaps even more encouraging is the recent partnership between the Timberland retailer and Omni tire manufacturer.

What these two companies have essentially done is designed a line of tires and a business plan that hopefully other companies will copy. After all, mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery and this is one deal that really benefits all involved.

Timberland tires will be created with their ultimate destiny already mapped out.

Once these tires wear out, they will be sent to Timberland and made into soles for Timberland brand boots and shoes.

These are the first tires created for a tire-to-shoe lifecycle.

How perfect!

Accessorize with Tire Treads

Combining durability and creativity, many artists and online vendors have created jewelry, belts, bags, and wallets out of used tire materials.

Given all these upcycling opportunities to turn tire trash into treasures for your home, garden, and wardrobe, think twice before sending your used tires to the landfill.