What comes to your mind when you see an old, overly used car or bike tire kept in a garage or cycle repair shop? Do you think of any unique way of re-using or recycling it? Have you ever thought of carving pretty Tire Sandals out of it?

Before your curious mind fills with tons of why, what, how questions, or you twitch your eyebrows in confusion and re-read my above sentence, let me tell you guys that TIRE SANDALS ARE TOTALLY LEGIT! (Not here in India though)

And they look darn good!

I was unaware of its existence until I came across a video posted by Daily Mail where a local from Kenya is seen making a pair of tire sandals on the spot for a women that too under just 10 minutes!

You can watch the video here.

Tire Sandals
Traditional tire sandals of Kenya

Tire sandals are a pretty common sight at every market place in Kenya and other parts of Eastern Africa just like Jute sandals are here in India. Every other person in Kenya, especially the men and women of Samburu and Maasai tribes of Kenya can be seen sporting them wherever they go – be it to the marketplace which is usually miles away from their villages or for their daily chores which involves walking for long distances.

Tire Sandals
A Maasai tribal man sporting tire sandals

But people often ask why wear old, used tires? And I say, why not?

Idea Behind These Tire Sandals

Tire is a pretty hard rubber which proves to be an excellent sole for shoes. Because of their long durability, they prove to be very useful when it comes to walking long distances without any fear of getting torn.

(Only I know how difficult it was for me to walk back home from tuition classes when my sandals ditched me, which was pretty often)

Originally the brain child of Ethiopian rebels who invented these back in 1935, tire sandals are popularly known as “Ten Thousand Milers” in Kenya solely because you can literally walk a thousand miles without anything happening to its sole. That is how durable these unique tire sandals are!

Maasai men wear these sandals while grazing their livestock and going to the markets for which they have to walk miles daily over very thorny and uneven terrain.

Tire Sandals
Pastoralists wear tire sandals to walk long distances

If this isn’t efficient utilization of resources and a perfect approach to recycling used materials then I don’t know what is!

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What’s Special About These Tire Sandals?

What’s not special about these?

Besides the fact that they are so durable that a pair of tire sandals can last you for two to three years easily, they don’t even look weird. In fact they look beautiful!

Each pair of tire sandals takes only one hour to make without any costly or complicated instruments and is decorated with bright colorful bands and beads proudly adorned by the women of Africa so that it looks as sophisticated as any other pair of sandals. (Plus triple the durability of course).

Tire Sandals
A snapshot from the video

What more? These sandals are very very cheap. Typically a pair of tire sandals is priced at just $8 back in Kenya and $30-$40 otherwise. Given their low price, they are very cost-effective. A shoe maker can make 8-10 tire sandals out of one tire!

And if this wasn’t enough, manufacturing of tire sandals helps provide employment opportunities to many needy people giving them a chance to earn some decent bucks and lead a dignified life back in Kenya.

One more amazing thing is the e-commerce retail company Ecosandals based out of Kariobangi, Kenya which sells beautiful tire sandals made by the locals of Kariobangi to customers all around the world via their online platform. This place is linked to high crime incidents with its youth involved in petty crimes like pick pocketing and drug abuse. But Ecosandals provide these people employment which helps them do something productive in life.

Tire Sandals
One of the pretty tire sandals made by Ecosandals

I say this is a symbol of sensibility and resourcefulness at its best!

Why India needs Tire Sandals as well?

Not only India but I would say every country needs something like this where the people can re-cycle old tires to make things they can efficiently use in their daily lives.


Because dumping waste tires is the most difficult thing ever!

Tires are designed to not fall apart when on the road. So these are the most indestructible of all the non-biodegradable materials. You can’t break them, you can’t tear them apart.

And burning tires in open or closed spaces is definitely not an option.

India is a pretty popular place when it comes to holding violent as hell protests and shut-downs for minor inconveniences. Groups of people take on to the streets, destroying public properties with absolutely no regard for anything.

And guess what more do they do?

They burn tires as a form of aggression clearly ignoring the hazardous impact of burning tire tubes just like that.

Tire Sandals
Tires set on fire because – protests!

According to environmentalists and of course “science”, burning of tires releases a dangerous soup of pollutants like carbon monoxide and what not. These toxic gases and other particles when inhaled can cause utmost damage to one’s health.

Even when we people are not protesting, the used tires are not recycled in any way. They are thrown or dumped in a dumpster from where they end up being burned.

It is far better to put them into use by making tire sandals instead!

Not only you are doing a favor to our Mother Earth but also getting a durable pair of chappals which you can pass on to your grandchildren because that’s how long they last! (Okay, slightly exaggerated).

So that’s about it on tire sandals. And if you come up with a way of making these, pass me some, will ya?

Image Source: Google Images

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