Tires are built for a relatively short-term purpose and then stay as they are for a very long time. This durability can be turned into an asset by finding longer-term uses for them. Old tires can be used for gardening, fashion and general fun. Wherever there is a need for strong rubber, old tires can offer an innovative and inexpensive solution.
Gardeners, as lovers of nature, might appreciate more than most people the value of putting old tires to new uses. Flower planters and pots can easily be made out of old tires. By cutting them into pieces, they can be reshaped to fit larger or smaller areas. Tire rubber is also commonly used in garden walls, garden edging or even in building more complex retaining walls. Instead of becoming garbage, these tires also can be used to contain garbage by piling several up to form a bin.
Despite their original utilitarian purpose, tires also can be fun. Shaped into a circle or square, a few tires can become a sandbox. A couple of tires filled with cement on either end of a wooden plank can form a seesaw or teeter-totter. They can be used to form almost all parts of an obstacle course or a playground, from rubber ropes and ladders to tire swings and hurdles. In boating, they might serve in makeshift tube-rides or as dock bumpers and buoys.
Environmentally astute designers have brought old tires into the fashion world. Belts, suspenders and sandals can easily be made out of cuts from old tires. Attractive and easy-to-wash-down furniture can be fashioned by braiding strips of tire rubber together. Some artisans have used rubber from these tires to create sculptures; with patience and dexterity, this craft can be practiced by anyone wanting to turn garbage into treasure.
Tire disposal is costly to the environment. Tires take up a lot of space in landfills and, when tire fires occur, they are difficult to extinguish and can spread dangerous contaminants. Tire recycling, in the sense of governments or corporations using complex processes such as microwave or ultrasound recycling, can be used in the production of rubber products such as asphalt or new shoes. This kind of recycling can be costly, though, because it requires breaking the tires down to a raw and more malleable material. By reusing old tires to suit new purposes instead of buying new products to do so, people can save both financially and environmentally.