Mental Floss

Retired Tires

David K. Israel

What to do with old tires? Well, we can use them to make wonderful parks for our children, if you recall this post I wrote on unusual playgrounds. Or, if you're an inventive artist working with discarded materials, you can create awesome sculptures like the ones featured below. Tires sure have come a long way since they were constructed out of iron and steel in the horse and wagon era. Back in those days, workers known as wheelwrights forged the tires in a hot fire and then let them cool and contract around the wooden wheels. Some even insist that this action of "tying" the tire to the wheel is where the modern-day word originates. (Though others think that the word comes from the root "attire.")

Rubber pneumatic tires didn't come along until John Boyd Dunlop invented one in 1887 for his son's bicycle. Today, more than a billion are produced each year. That presents a real problem because it takes a tire years to decompose. Some states have even banned tires from landfills. So hopefully we'll start seeing more uses like those pictured bellow. Beautiful!