No Need To Trash Your Treads

I started this article as a full on bicycle recycle post but quickly realized that if I wanted to talk about recycling the aluminum and other metals used as bicycle parts that would have to be a whole ‘nother post. So today we’re just going to explore how to recycle or reuse a blown inner tube.

Next time your bicycle inner tube is trashed beyond repair don’t toss it in the trash. A damaged inner tube can be recycled in a number of ways around the house, to make a fashion statement or put back to use on your bike.

Inner Tube Belt

If you’d like to try your hand at making a bicycle tire belt check out this tutorial at Open Design Club.

Bicycle Tire Cuff

Bike Tire Cuff - upcycled bicycle tire - medium - FREE SHIPPING


Bicycle Tube Leaf Earrings

bicycle tube leaf earring


Rubber Ties

Tire tubes can be used to fasten a milk crate or other basket to the rack on your bike. You can cut them across so that you have a long tie and then cut them into thinner strips is you like. Since the rubber is stretchy and pliable but not slippery it holds a knot quite well.

You could use this same idea to tie down a tarp or in other places where you might have used a bungee cord. You could even make your own bungee cord by punching a hole in each end of a length of inner tube, insert an S-hook or snap-hook and you’ve got your bungee cord.

Bicycle Chain Stay Protector

Those of you who ride a lot know that one annoying feature of the chain and sprocket transmission is the chain slapping on the chain stay. Besides being an irritating noise this also wreaks havoc on your paint job. An easy solution is to save the tube from your next flat. If it has a small hole in it, patch it up and use it for later, of course; but if the hole is too big to patch you can recycle it as a as a chain stay protector.

Cut the tube into a piece the length of your bike’s chain stay and split it up the middle length-wise. Clean the tube with solvent and rub with sandpaper to make it easier for the glue to adhere. Wrap the chain stay with the tube, making sure to cover it all the way to the dropout. Stretch the tube around and glue it into place by placing a bead of glue on the outside of the tube and rolling the other side of the tube over the glued portion. This will work best if the seam is on top of the chain stay facing either in or out. Tip: before gluing attach the inside part of the tube with a bit of tape to make it easier to stretch the tube tight. The tube will cover the tape once it’s glued in place.

Bicycle Storage

A piece of tire can be used to hang your bike from a ceiling. Measure the distance between your seat and your handle bars. Nail two tubes to the ceiling according to your measurements.

Emergency Sidewall Repair

If you get a tear in the sidewall of your bicycle tire, your tube might be beyond patching as well. This isn’t a permanent solution but you can save your ride by cutting the punctured tube into a piece large enough to patch the sidewall. Glue the piece of tube over the hole on the inside of the tire. If you’re not carrying glue, place the patch over the hole and let the new tube press it in place. In the case of a very big hole use several layers of inner tube. Now carefully ride to your destination or to a repair shop.


Draft Dodger

Seal a drafty window or door with a length of inner tube cut to fit.

Protective Pads

Cut the inner tube into the size you need to protect things from bumping each other. Cut small custom-sized pieces to place between your bike and an item you’re clamping to it to keep from scratching the paint.

Cut once across the tire so that it is a long tube. Run a chain through the tube to keep the chain from bumping and scratching other items.

Rubber Bands

You don’t often find a need for a giant rubber band very often, but when you do an old inner tube can be quite handy. Just slice the tube into rubber bands of the thickness you desire, keeping in mind that the thicker the band the less stretch it will have.


Check out Hollow Tops tutorial for making your own sandals from tires.

Wow! I never knew until I started researching this article just how many ways an inner tube can be used. I can’t wait until my next flat tire!

Recycling Projects Using Large Cans

There are so many things that you can do with large cans. They’re great for organizing, storing, building blocks for children, crafts … There are so many things that you can do with large cans that we wanted to start this page to give our readers some ideas. If you have a project or idea for using large cans that we haven’t listed here, please feel free to leave a comment.

Decorate Your Recycled Can

You can cover the outside of your recyled can using any of the items or methods below:

  • wallpaper sample or scraps
  • decoupage pictures
  • decorative napkins
  • aluminum flashing
  • mosiac using broken dishes
  • mosiac or glue on buttons
  • mosiac tiles
  • paper mache
  • gift wrap
  • construction paper
  • book cover
  • decorative contact paper
  • paint


Cut a thin rectangle out of the lid using a craft knife. Decorate your new bank however you like.

Craft Storage

Store craft & sewing supplies in large cans with or without a lid. Use labels or pictures to identify what’s in each can.

Flower Vase

Set a jar or water glass into a decorated can.

Hanging Vase

Paint or decoupage as many clean aluminum cans as you will want for vases. Punch a hole near the top of the can with a nail and fill half way with water. Hang on picture hooks and place flowers or greenery in each can.

Kitchen Utensil Holder

Prepare plaster-of-paris or cement according to package directions. Pour 1 to 2-inches of plaster into utensil holder to make it more stable. Allow to dry before adding kitchen utensils!

Magnifying Waterscope

Use a can opener to remove both ends from a large can. Cover the sharp edges on both ends of the can with strong tape such as duct or masking tape to protect your child and prevent the plastic wrap from tearing. Stretch plastic wrap over one end of the can and secure with a rubber band, then wrap tape around the can to secure the rubber band. Tip: to get a better view line the inside of the can with anything black, such as black paint, craft foam or construction paper.

Dip the covered end of the can into the water and look into the can from the open end. The pressure of the water against the plastic wrap curves it, making it into a magnifying lens!

To make your waterscope more fun place objects in the water to view or take your waterscope to a tide pool.

Make Life Easier

Keep your small survival items in a large coffee can stored in your trunk and/or in a convenient place in your home.

As a campfire cooking utensil you can boil foods in the can and place the aluminum lid directly on your coals as a fry pan.

Store candle stubs.

Use cans for mixing custom paint colors then just snap the plastic lid on to store. Don’t forget to dab a bit of paint on the outside of the can to make finding the color you want easy. If you’ll be storing your paint for longer than a week or two seal the lid with tape to make it airtight.

A plastic lid from a large can will make your next painting job less messy. Cut a slit in the center of the lid and pull the paintbrush handle through the slit so that the brush is on the side of the lid with the lip. Dip your brush in the paint and slap away at the wall just like you normally would only this time there won’t be any drips down the handle of the brush or splatters on your hands or eyeglasses.

Pantry Storage

Store opened dry goods in cans that have reusable plastic lids such as empty coffee cans. Leave them right in their paper or plastic bags, just drop into the can & label, or pour into can, cut label off original container & tape to can.

Safe Bank

Glue a few of the original potato chips to the inside lid of the can. Keep it in your pantry as a safe place to store valuables. Few burglars will even bother to glance twice at the can, but if they do they’ll see the potato chips through the lid and hopefully won’t bother to open the can. As further insurance instead of gluing chips to the lid you can put your valuables inside, then stack chips on top of them. It will be harder for you to retrieve your goodies when you want them but they will be safer from prying hands since the can will look and feel more like a real potato chip can.

Tip: don’t use this method to store heavy valuables as the can will feel too heavy and be a dead giveaway that there’s more than potato chips in it.

Safe Mailer

Use an empty container with its original lid to mail cookies, other baked goods and breakable items. Just fill with goodies, securely tape the lid in place, wrap in plain paper, address and mail. Don’t forget to label your package “Fragile”, although I label all my packages “Breakable” and “Glass” to ensure they are treated gently.


Turn two 1-pound coffee cans upside down so that the plastic lid is on the bottom. Leave the lid on as it will help to protect your floors. There are several ways to attach foot or hand holds:

Spread epoxy glue on the bottom of two old shoes or sandals that are large enough for your kids to put their feet into. Attach shoes to the metal top of the now upside down coffee cans. When epoxy is dry your kids can put their feet inside the shoes and take off.

Using a nail poke two holes, one on each side of the can about half and inch from the top. Thread several strands of ribbon or string that have been braided together, or some rope, through holes in cans. Tie a knot inside the can. Kids can stand on the cans and hold onto the rope handles. They’ll need to practice lifting each foot with the corresponding rope to be able to walk in their stilts.

Cut an old belt into six-inch lengths so that you have 4 lengths for each pair of stilts. Nail one end of each length to the top of each can so that there are two straps on each can that are spaced so that a child can slide his/her foot into them. You might want to start by having your child stand on a pair of cans while you position and mark the straps. After nailing the straps in place (without the child’s feet in them!) turn the cans over and bend the nails down.

Wine Rack

This project can be made using aluminum or cardboard cans. I used a mix of coffee canisters and oatmeal canisters. Give them a rinse. Spray with three coats of paint. Let dry completely.

Use just a bit of tape at the mouths of each canister to connect three canisters together for the base. Do the same with two cans for the second tier. Glue each row of canisters together with clear silicone or any other strong glue, then glue the row of two cans to the row of three cans and top the two can row with one can. When glue is dry, remove the tape and you have a wine rack for FREE – whee!

more great recycling ideas