Trash Trip

Exploring waste, from coast to coast.

Tiresome Tires

 The Tires of St. Thomas, USVI

The Tires of St. Thomas, USVI

Tires. What would you do with, say, 500,000 used automobile tires?

Here are some options:

  • Try to re-tread them – although, this is typically limited to tractor-trailer type of tires.
  • Sell them to a Llanteria, or equivalent, who will then sell them to a buyer who may get a few extra thousand miles out of the tread – roughly until the tire blows out completely.
  • Stack them and build (a lot of) retaining walls or an Earthship house.
  • Use them as potting containers for trees or flowers.
  • Attach them to a rope or chain, hang them somehow, and call it a swing.
  • Lay them on the ground, in an offset pattern, for doing “tire hop” exercises (you could even call it exercise equipment)
  • Cut off the thin sections and make them into shoe soles – but not the thick or steel-braided parts. Do what you can with the rest and good luck with that!
  • Pay someone to ship them to a manufacturer who can fabricate them into “logs” which are then used for retaining walls or absorbing bullets at target ranges.
  • Grind them up into little pieces and use them in road or path construction, bury them, or burn them for energy or concrete manufacturing.
  • Buy or rent an expensive piece of equipment to bale them into tight bundles and either ship them to someone else, stack them up high or bury them down low.
  • Pile them up into designated areas, waiting to find a better way to dispose of them, while they breed mosquitoes.
  • Hide them in back lots, on grassy roadsides, or on river banks, to choke up canals in heavy rainstorms and breed mosquitoes when it doesn’t rain.

Another option is to re-design them so that they can be more readily deconstructed and the raw materials re-used. But, of all of the options listed, this one is still but a dream.

What I’m getting at, and this may or may not be new to you, is that waste production begins at the design table. Our modern-day tradition is to design things for landfills – and this is a more-recent phenomenon than the average Joe may think. Since the advent of durable goods, with oil-derived goods as the cornerstone and shining star at the top, we’ve somehow accepted into our collective psyche that it is an acceptable option to huck this stuff into a hole and “call it good.” Out of sight, out of mind.

But, there are only so many holes into which we may huck stuff and it’s usually not located in a backyard near you. If it is, I sympathize but I cannot empathize; I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had to live with a landfill in my back yard. But, I know that this is not the case for everyone. Why should it be the case for anyone then?

Why not work (and design) smarter, not harder?

Of course, in order for that to begin, we the consumers must demand for it. But, as of today, it is still pretty easy to forget or ignore, because we have the magical system of waste removal in place; which takes out of sight our demons, so that we may forget that they were ever there.

That is, unless you live on an island, where it is very hard to hide those demons – and they are wrestling with them every day.

So, what would you do with, say, 1,000,000 used tires (and the same amount of land as you had at when faced with 500,000 tires)? Don’t forget, there are more and more tires designed, built, sold, and chucked, every single day.


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