I recently wrote a pair of posts on the global waste tyre problem, and how we can reduce, reuse and recycle the billion plus tyres discarded every year. There’s one further use that I’ve been saving for a Friday, when I like to write about sustainable buildings. Because if you’ve a vast stock of heavy, durable, almost indestructible objects lying around, then using them as a building material seems like a good idea.
That’s one of the key techniques used in constructing an ‘earthship‘, an original 1970s self-build eco-home. These self-contained passive houses make use of waste tyres to create the outside walls, packing them with dirt to make a solid structure. The walls are thick, and that provides thermal mass for regulating the building’s temperature.
Tyres can be stacked and then covered in adobe for a smooth and natural look that blends into the environment. Or you can leave them as they are for more of a Mad Max aesthetic.
Earthships popularised the tyre wall, but there’s no reason why the technique should be limited to building them. They can be used in landscaping and for retaining walls, they’ve been used for barns and agricultural buildings, and rainwater storage cisterns.
If you’re so inclined, you can also use them for growing things in. There’s a tractor tyre planter in the garden I designed for the nursery round the corner.