Most people would pass by an abandoned tire without a second thought. Amarildo Silva, a 23-year-old artist from Campina Grande, Brazil, has turned those discarded pieces of rubber into a thriving business benefiting the environment and the forgotten strays of Brazil.
Silva’s business, Cãominhas Pets, takes old tires that used to litter the streets of his hometown and repurposes them as fun, colorful pet beds for pet owners, as well as for the thousands of stray dogs and cats in the area, who greatly outnumber the people who live there.
A couple of years ago while working at a grocery store, Silva dreamed of being a business owner. He hoped to find a way to be his own boss while pursuing his artistic passion.
He noticed stray animals in his neighborhood seemed to often find refuge at night curling up in the old tires people left along the side of the road.
That was when the idea came to him to turn this trash into treasure. He collected the tires and used his skills to create beautiful and functional pieces to benefit these lost animal souls.
Silva soon found a market for his creations. He began selling his pet beds to coworkers, friends and family, and has since expanded to selling in stores and online.
He hasn’t forgotten the original beneficiaries, though. The dogs and cats of Campina Grande that don’t have a place to call home can find his communal beds to lie in at night.
Along with providing a much-needed resource for strays in Campina Grande, Silva's new business also makes a huge environmental impact.
Rubber tires, such as those Silva is using, take decades to break down and can affect the environment. A 2019 article by National Geographic noted that it takes seven gallons of oil to make even small car tires.
As tires are used, they start to wear down, contributing to the microplastics problem in the world's oceans. Although reusing tires in the United States has increased from 11% in the 1990s to 81% in 2017, according to National Geographic, innumerable amounts still end up in landfills and, in Silva’s experience, on the side of the road.
When asked about how many tires he has refurbished, Silva estimated that “over the course of two years, I already removed 1,500 units of old tires from the environment making only the [pet beds].”
More than two years into his endeavor, Silva has streamlined the process. After harvesting a supply of tires, cutting them into the needed shape and giving them a complete cleaning, Silva adds vibrant hues and bold fabric prints to create a soft inner cushion with a matching pillow for a finishing touch.
He adds additional details, such as decals or a pet’s name, and what once was a blight along the road becomes the bed of choice for pets of all backgrounds.
After he began making the pet beds, Silva started receiving community attention for his positive impact on the environment and the homeless pet population of Campina Grande.
Though he is expanding his business to create planters, playground fixtures and seasonal decorations — as seen on his Instagram account — Silva continues to create his unique, durable and comfy pet beds, bringing him a big thanks from all his furry friends on Brazilian streets.