Resident welfare association in Mandaveli upcycles old tyres to raise ornamental plants in their neighbourhood

An inconvenience can sometimes give birth to an innovation, as is evident from the new look Thiruveedhi Amman Koil Street in Mandaveli sports. The street has a new tyre garden, in a neat array along the pavements. The new initiative is not just a beautification project, but a united effort by residents to keep their pavements and road from encroachments and unauthorised parking.

“For long, we fought unauthorised parking and our pavements had become open trash bins. Since all the residents here segregate and compost their waste, we went binless. However, it didn’t stop visitors and passersby from littering on the street. So we decided to paint the compound walls and raise a mini garden along the pavements, says Ram Kumar, a resident and member of Thiruveedhi Amman Koil Street (TAKSRA).

Initially, they had planted saplings in metal drums and placed them along the sides of the road. “The reason to plant saplings in such heavy objects instead of clay or cement pots was to prevent people from moving them or knocking them over. However, the drums started rusting soon, loosening the soil. So, we had to look for other options since buying new drums would burn a hole in our pockets and they would rust again. And that’s when the idea of using old tyres struck us. Upcycling old tyres is not a new or a unique concept and has been adopted in several places world over. Tyres are often discarded and difficult to recycle, but they make for useful garden features,” he says.

The residents had a few old tyres but they needed more for the whole street. All the residents pooled in and more tyres were bought from the automobile shops in Royapettah for ₹50 each. The tyres were stacked in three or four, and drilled and bolted together, and also sealed with glue to prevent soil from leaking.

“We roped in our neighbourhood watchman to put the tyres together following which we invited the residents to paint them. The first layer is construction rubble covered in a mosquito net to keep the base strong and sturdy. Then we filled the soil and planted the saplings,” he says.

This method, he says is not only cost-effective but also sustainable as there is no need to worry about corrosion or damage.

Besides, it’s the best way to prevent materials that are difficult to recycle from ending up in the landfill and contributing to environmental degradation.

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