Friday, February 23, 2024

Coahuila man turns discarded tires into whimsical furniture

An artisan in the northern state of Coahuila is making the world a cleaner place while putting money in his pocket along the way: he makes pots, decorative sculptures and even furniture out of used tires.

Ernesto Palomo, who lives in the state capital Saltillo, says the project started at home about a year ago, with him simply designing things for himself like outdoor planters and decorative animals. Then his neighbors started to take notice and request not only the items he was making for himself but other designs as well.

That’s how his repertoire expanded to all kinds of furniture and more. “I do it as a way to earn a little extra income,” said Palomo, “and more than anything because there were people asking me to make things for their homes.”

Mexicans throw away 40 million tonnes of tires each year. Only 10% are recycled. According to Mexico’s National Association of Tire Distributors (Andellac), 90% of old tires get thrown into ditches along the side of the highway and into rivers and streams, which exacerbates problems with fires and becomes a public health matter.

chairs made from tires by Ernesto Palomo of Saltillo
Palomo started making furniture at the request of his neighbors.

One of the biggest problems with old tires, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, is that they leach chemicals and heavy metals into the ground that are carcinogenic and mutagenic (meaning they cause cancer and gene mutations).

Palomo has now made a business out of recycling what others throw away and says that he sells usually at least one chair a week, several planters and other items as well. “I take advantage of the tires because they are thrown in places they shouldn’t be,” says Palomo. “I figure out the kind of planter I want to make and then create a design.”

Brightly colored and whimsical, Palomo’s designs sit outside on the front porch of his house and basically sell themselves, as neighbors and passersby are drawn to their ingenious designs.

With reports from Vanguardia

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