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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Listener Action: Furniture from Retired Tires

Air Date: Week of

A Living on Earth listener in Winterville, Georgia takes old tires and turns them into new upholstered furniture. Steve Curwood catches up with him to find out more about his products.


CURWOOD: Americans throw out more than a quarter of a billion automobile tires a year. Now, some of that round rubber is recycled into roadways, sneakers, or homes, but most of it ends up in tire dumps. A listener in Georgia has a solution in part to this problem. His name is Jack Doubrley, and he's turning old rubber into new upholstered furniture. As part of our series of listener suggestions to help the environment, we caught up with Mr. Doubrley at his office at Classic City Mechanical in Winterville, Georgia. Sitting down on the job, so to speak, in one of his own creations.

DOUBRLEY: It's round. Like people. But it looks more comfortable and real dressed up as much as anything else.

CURWOOD: Why did you start making furniture from old tires?

DOUBRLEY: Well, I noticed personally that tires were getting to be a problem for me. I had used the tread off of a tire which is actually less than 10% of the material it's made out of, and I myself had to find something to do with this good material that is left when you use the little bit of a tire that you're going to use in driving. So it just looked like furniture to me. It looked comfortable.

CURWOOD: You know, I've got to tell you, though. Sitting on tires doesn't really sound all that comfortable.

DOUBRLEY: Well, there again, if you think about the fact that the tire manufacturers have spent the better part of 80 years trying to make them indestructible, and yet they still have an inherent resilience and pliability that you're not going to get in a piece of furniture made out of a hardwood frame. If you look at the frame of a hardwood piece of furniture, it's all squared off angles; I've never known anybody that had a square butt. So my concept is something round, soft, and pliable.

CURWOOD: Have you sold many of these yet?

DOUBRLEY: It's like the old joke, I've sold literally dozens of them. It's a one-man operation right now. You know, if you get a piece at this point, you're getting it hand finished by the inventor.

CURWOOD: Sounds like they're expensive, though, if they're hand finished by you personally.

DOUBRLEY: I like to think it's one of the better bargains for a dollar now, because I price them, I think what is a moderate piece of furniture. But I've got something that will last you forever, and all you have to do is have it reupholstered. Like any piece.

CURWOOD: Well, I'm waiting to try one. Thanks so much for taking this time with us today.

DOUBRLEY: Yes, thank you. I certainly appreciate it.

CURWOOD: Jack Doubrley is a furniture maker and hails from Crawford, Georgia.



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