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Concerns About Using Recycled Tire Planters

3/10/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: recycled tires, garden soil, soil contamination, garden

Are old tires safe to use as planters?

Sharon White
Mora, New Mexico

Short-term, yes, tire planters are OK, although the soil in black tire planters will probably get hotter than most plants would prefer. Long-term, no, because the tire rubber will slowly biodegrade and release zinc, carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic Tire Planteraromatic hydrocarbons) and other toxic compounds into your garden soil.

Toxics from tires are an even greater concern in some recycled products, such as rubber mulch and artificial turf, that are made from shredded or pelletized old tires. Here is an excellent report about the hazards of recycled tires, by Sarah Lane at Progressive Kid.

Photo By iStockphoto/Craig Veltri

Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on .

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Emily Layfield Grisier
5/10/2012 8:41:43 PM
The article referenced above talked about pelleted rubber. The pelleting of tires would greatly increase any reactions as it increases the surface volume. I would like to see a study done on whole intact tires directly related to leaching in the environment and plants ability to absorb and pass on these chemicals.

Mark Lavin
8/21/2011 3:01:22 PM
Thanks for the info on this - I've begun making a "how to" video for posting on the blog on my new site, Vertecology, about tires as planters, and just, moments ago succeeded on the "flip" - turning the tire inside out, a big monster van tire at that (pat, pat the ego...). This after I read on the Earthship site that there are no dangers, but perhaps that's just in terms of sealing tires into a wall? Anywho, great to show your link and theirs when the vid goes up and let people make the decision themselves, I suppose. Considering that tires are such a huge waste problem, there's the cost-benefit view - dealing with some long term biodegradation in the garden and giving these tires a second use seems to be much less of an issue than mountains of tires ending up in places like the Philippines where they burn and blacken the skies.

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