By TreeLiving We all know a bit about the impact cars have on the environment. In a world running short of oil, cars contribute massively to using up non-renewable resources. They are also serious culprits because of their contribution to the carbon emissions that are threatening the ecological balance of the planet. Measures to limit the damage caused by our love affair with the car are also well-known, but most deal with eco cars running on alternative fuels. Eco tires are a great new idea that deserves to catch every motorist’s attention. It’s all very well driving eco cars, but it’s not just the engine we need to think about. Every tire made uses five to ten gallons of petroleum-derived ingredients. Back in the day, tires were made mainly from rubber from latex sap, which is a renewable resource. Over the years synthetic rubber and substances derived from crude oil and coal were used more and more. The good news is that manufacturers aware of environmental issues and aware of petroleum shortages have been working to reverse this trend. In the last few years renewable resources such as plant and vegetable oil derivatives are being used for eco tires instead. Alternative sources of suitable plant oils, from desert plants to orange peel have all been researched for the eco tires of the future. Industrial biotechnologists are even researching using micro-organisms to produce the rubber substance called isoprene. Meanwhile, some models of car, by manufacturers including Peugeot and Mercedes, are already sold equipped with eco tires. The materials used to make tires for eco cars (and regular cars, for that matter) are only part of the story, though. It’s also about design. Inefficient tires, including tires that aren’t inflated to the correct pressure, can hugely increase fuel consumption. Manufacturers suggest that this is an even bigger issue when it comes to environmental considerations than the materials themselves. The new eco tires are designed to reduce rolling resistance and tire weight. Basically, the lower the weight and the rolling resistance, the less energy the car uses and the less energy wastage there is. Another eco-friendly initiative that tire manufacturers have come up with is using recycled materials, for example for the tire casing cords. Add it all up and eco tires have substantial advantages in environmental terms. We’ve all probably seen the tire mountains that result from the staggering three hundred million tires that ordinary motorists replace every year. Recycling a higher proportion of those tires is another industry initiative that has positive environmental implications. The recycled tires provide material for more, eco-friendly tires and other consumer products as well. We’re not all in a position to go out and buy an eco car, but there’s no doubt that they are the future of motoring. Eco tires are integral to the efficiency of eco cars. It’s still early days, and perfecting the designs and monitoring safety issues is an on-going process. Great strides are being made to ensure that we can drive without causing needless environmental damage to our beautiful planet.