This post is by Nathan “Upcycle” Devine, author of Retrash, which you can pre-order here.
I love upcycling; I have been doing it since I was young. I remember going to the tip quite a lot when I was a kid growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, not because it was something to do on the weekend but because it was part of my dad’s business – taking rubbish away for people.
Upcycling is so much a part of my life that I would say that I do it on a daily basis. Like many recyclers and upcyclers, I can’t drive down the street during kerbside collection time without stopping at least once. It kills me to see so many valuable materials going to waste, which is why I put together a book called Retrash, to inspire the world to reuse waste in creative and innovative ways.
Upcycling provides a creative outlet for me, while contributing to the bigger picture of reducing waste in landfill and oceans. Just recently I swam across an ocean inlet at Patonga (NSW) to stop a large plastic bag from going out to sea. I made it to the other side but it was interesting trying to swim back across the strong current with it in my undies!!
I teach my kids as much as I can about reusing waste, so they understand from a young age about the impact we have on our environment. My 4yr old son said to me this morning “Dad I know what upcycling means, it means that you use waste to make something.” That definitely put a smile on my dial!
I recently built a tyre swing for my kids, which I thought would be a great project to share with you to illustrate how easy it is to use discarded materials to create something meaningful.
Tyre swings will last for an eternity. Most tyres are built from industrial-strength rubber with a steel mesh core. You can find used tyres at any garage or tyre-replacement centre across Australia, and they are free! Compare this to buying a $75 Fisher-Price swing that fades and turns brittle after a short amount of time, and it’s not a very hard decision in my opinion. So let’s get started!
Firstly, there are many different sized tyres – there are tyres for motorbikes, cars and trucks to name a few. The tyre that I will be demonstrating in this article is a truck tyre and will fit four children easily. It is also very heavy and has good momentum – although take note you should supervise children around the tyre when swinging so they do not get knocked over.
Start by giving the tyre a very rough clean to get the bulk amount of rubber dust and dirt off it. We will give it a better clean later on, and once done you will not get any black marking on clothes or your hands at all.
The next step is to drill four holes in the side wall of the tyre. Remember that tyres are built to withstand extreme air pressure so you may need a bit of downwards pressure on the drill to drill through the tyre.
Once you have your holes, you can then start to attach the rope. Now, you can buy all sorts of fancy ring brackets from the hardware to connect the rope to the tyre, but this article is about using existing materials so in my opinion you don’t need anything like that. You can see from the picture above that you can simply weave the rope straight through the holes to create a loop. Repeat this on the other side of the tyre so that you have four ropes coming out of the holes.
You are now ready to hang your tyre. Typically it is good if you have a large picturesque fig tree with a beautiful outstretched branch, hanging beautifully over a rolling green hill. Don’t have one? don’t worry, I didn’t either! What I did have though were two trees that were fairly close together, and what I did was tie a rope between the two trunks, allowing me to swing a rope over the middle. It actually creates a stronger, more stable swing in this configuration. You will need a second person to hold the tyre up while you tie it off, depending on how heavy your tyre is.
You are now ready to swing!
If you are worried about rope strength you can always double up the ropes to make it stronger. I doubled up the rope twice (so four strands of rope) between the trunks, and the same hanging down, just in case I need to swing on the tyre myself – to make sure it works properly of course!
If you are interested in upcycling, or have a passion for the environment and want to inspire people to reduce waste, you can help me get Retrash to print by donating $1, or as much as you can to the project. I have been working with more than 80 artists and creative thinkers worldwide to produce this book, and I believe it can inspire a more sustainable planet.
Head to the Retrash project and do your bit for the planet so that our kids can keep swinging on tyres for many years to come.
Retrash is a beautiful, inspiring coffee-table-style book by designer Nathan Devine. Order a copy for yourself or as a gift and help Nathan bring it to fruition. Everything you need to know is here.