When our discarded waste takes revenge.
I recently watched one of the craziest movies I have ever seen. It was called Rubber and was a random Netflix find. The story goes that a car tyre comes to life in the middle of a desert dump. It finds it’s momentum, starts to learn how to move on it’s own, and before long it’s rolling around squishing things. Not satisfied with just squishing things it decides to up it’s game, develop telekinetic abilities and start making animals and people explode, all while a collection of film spectators watch the story unfold. Obviously this movie was developed to challenge the viewers idea of what cinema should be (watching a tyre on a homicidal rampage really isn’t for everyone, Ged tapped out pretty quickly). It won’t be a watch for everyone and for most part I giggled the whole way though at the absurdity of watching a tyre roll around for an hour and a bit. While this movie was totally odd, very funny in a dark way, and full of unnecessary gore, it did get me thinking about tyres and sustainability (and also what would happen if our rubbish came to life and took revenge on us).
Tyres and sustainability.
If you choose to go by plane, bus, car, or bike you are connected to the earth by a bit of rubber. Unless you happen to be a bit of a rubber enthusiast, or holiday often in Asia, you might not know that natural rubber (which is part of the tyre making process) comes from trees. This fact was something that really surprised me when I was lucky enough to have a picnic lunch in a rubber tree plantation (the species most common planted is Hevea brasiliensis) while biking through Cambodia. Rubber is present in the sap of many different species of plants, in rubber plantations this sap is collected through ‘tapping’ where a trees bark is cut with a v shape and they attach a cup to collect the latex filled sap that drips out. This is then sent on for processing with an acid to make it all stick together and then dried for further production. Rubber plantations can have their good side in that they create industry in developing areas and according to this proposal from the Rainforest Alliance a 2000 hectare site could have the potential to sequester up to 1,739,855 tCO2e over 42 years. However like most plantations, there are limits to the amount of wildlife habitat that monoculture plantings can host, there is a loss of potential for natural ecosystems, and land used for rubber cannot be used for housing or food. Also, while a plantation may sequester CO2, if it’s destined to become tyres for fossil fuel powered vehicles it’s likely their emissions will render the plantations carbon sink void pretty quickly. Tyres are even trickier when it comes to disposal because they are designed to be long lasting and take you for miles and miles over rough terrain. Many are sent for recycling or energy recapture, however due to their complex nature around 12% of all solid waste is said to be made up from tyres. Those that are sent off to be burnt (something more common outside Australia) release carcinogenic chemicals and green house gasses into the air. As you might have guessed if you are a regular reader of Sustainability in Style, fashion can be used to recycle tyres and their components. It might not be the solution to the the whole 12% but it will make a little impact. Check out the labels below for more details.
Concerned by the number of car tyres found in landfill across the World, the crew at Austin Footwear Labs reinvented the tire-recycling process from the ground up.Creating an up cycled 100% clean, virgin rubber substitute called APX. They used APX to create Tredagain: The world’s first upcycled-tire shoe. Their designs are simple and would definitely play a part in anyones summer show closet (or all year round if you’re an Aussie who lives in ‘thongs’). Tredagain believe that when it comes to tires, 50,000 miles is just the beginning.
The stylish products at Clive Street are made from at least 80% recycled materials. Made by hand in Brisbane each Clive Street item has it’s own story. The majority of the current collection are made from the inner-tubes of tyres. This sweet little purse above was created from the inner tube of car and mountain bike tyres, making these no-so-useful items useful again in a totally stylish way. Clive Street offer custom orders and will incorporate items and fabric you would like to upcycle.
Recycle Creative source reclaimed materials such as inner tubes and partner with talented craftspeople to create up cycled bags and accessories that do good for people and planet. Their focus is not only on the reuse of waste materials to create high quality recycled products, but extends to acting in a responsible and respectful way towards their manufacturing partners and customers. The founders,Tik and James have spent a lot of time in and around the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand, and during this time have observed the innovative and adaptive nature of the people. They have identified a need to support and encourage talented craftspeople to consider making greater use of available reclaimed materials. Their bags (like the one above as modelled by my lovely hubby Ged) are long lasting, water resistant and great alternatives to leather for those who opt out of animal products.
Do these facts on rubber shock or amaze you? Have you been to a rubber plantation? Perhaps you know another brand that does good with tyre waste? Share all below.