Every year, manufacturers churn out 300 million tennis balls. That contributes about 20,000 tons of waste in landfills. As an avid tennis player, I'm a big contributor to this waste as I have probably amassed hundreds (if not thousands) of old tennis balls through the years. I wish I could reuse my old tennis balls out on the court. But once you open a can of tennis balls, they quickly lose their bounce, which makes it harder to unleash my inner Serena Williams. There are a myriad of ways to reuse old tennis balls:
- Carefully slice open a tennis ball and then use the concave side to open a beer bottle or to twist the top off a stubborn jar.
- Wrap a piece of sandpaper around a tennis ball — it makes a handy, comfortable sander!
- Cut a slit into a tennis ball and use it as a secret hiding place.
- Use an old ball or two as an anchor for balloons. Either attach the strings to the ball with heavy-duty tape or cut a small hole in the ball and push the knotted part of the strings through the hole.
- Cut a slit into a ball and attach it to the end of a broomstick or pole. Use this contraption to rub away scuff marks on your wood or linoleum floors.
- Make a baby mobile out of fishing wire and tennis balls. (FYI: I read in Andre Agassi's autobiography that this is what his tennis-obsessed father did to get him used to "keeping his eye on the ball" as a baby.)
- Cut a tennis ball in half and use it to hold small household items. I use mine in my desk drawers to hold thumbtacks and paperclips.
- Put a tennis ball in your dryer to help fluff your laundry and reduce static cling.
- Cut a tennis ball in half. Pour beer in a half and then place it in your garden to trap slugs and snails.
- For a natural way to keep gnats and flies away, smear Vaseline on a ball and then hang it with fishing wire from a tree.
- To remove sunscreen residue from your pool, throw a tennis ball in it to help soak up the oily residue.
If you experience soreness or cramping in the arch of your feet or have an aching back, there are several helpful exercises that incorporate a tennis ball:
- Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair and place a tennis ball under the tender spot in your bothersome foot. Move your foot slowly back and forth over the tennis ball for 45 seconds. Repeat this process for each tender spot.
- Place a tennis ball on the floor next to a wall. Stand facing the wall and keep the heel of your foot on the ground. Put the bottom of your toes on top of the tennis ball. With your knees slightly bent, lean forward towards the wall and press your toes down on the tennis ball. Repeat this process for each foot.
- Lie on the ground and place a tennis ball under your lower back. With your feet flat on the ground, bring your knees up and then rock your hips from side to side.
- Put two tennis balls in a tube sock and tie the sock into a knot. This tennis ball massage contraption should resemble a giant peanut. Stand with your back facing the wall, and then place the contraption between your back and the wall. Shimmy your body from left to right to help work out knots and tension in your back and neck.
- Your dog can only use so many tennis balls. As such, consider donating your old tennis balls to your local animal shelter or humane society.
- Donate your balls to a local school or Boys & Girls Club with tennis programs.
- Donate your balls to a retirement home or physical rehabilitation center as old tennis balls can be cut up and put on the bottom of walkers to provide stability and reduce flooring damage.
- If you have more than 200 balls in good condition to donate, check out reBounces. reBounces will email you a pre-paid envelope so you can ship your balls to them free of charge. reBounces re-pressurizes tennis balls and re-sells them at low prices. The balls that can't be re-pressurized are donated to adult-care facilities, hospitals, and schools. If you want to buy re-pressurized tennis balls from reBounces, you’ll spend $185.00 for 500 balls ($0.37/ball). Since new tennis balls cost about a $1.00 each, buying re-pressurized tennis balls offers significant savings.
- Donate your balls to a local clown college for juggling practice. (Just kidding.)