Ever wonder if all of those walnut shells you discard (or maybe even compost) could be put to some other use? Neither do we. But someone else put a lot of thought into possible applications for those bits of refuse and came up with a nutty (though perhaps profitable) idea — embedding walnut shells into tires to give better traction on icy, snowy roads.

According to Canada’s Toyo tire company:

"One of the world’s hardest substances, walnut shells actually dig into ice and snow like miniature steel spikes, providing exceptional gripping power and handling in treacherous winter driving conditions. All with minimal tire and road surface wear."

We’re not sure if they’re eco, but they’ve got the Canadian government’s seal of approval:

The result is a standard of performance in severe winter conditions that’s certified by Transport Canada. Which means you’ll be in better control when the weather gets …

 (Go ahead and groan, but you knew this was coming.)

… really nuts.

Story by Alisa Opar. This article originally appeared in Plenty in March 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.