A bowling ball isn’t typically the most common item you’d find in a regular attic, but for those with a history of bowling, it might be one of those annoying items that you can’t seem to get rid of.
Perhaps your parents used to be keen bowlers back in the day, or you received one for your 8th birthday and only used it twice.
You’re probably wondering if there’s a way to dispose of, reuse, or recycle that dreaded bowling ball. It’s not exactly an easily recyclable item such as a cardboard box, after all, so what else can you do with it?
Here is the ultimate guide to the best ways to dispose of, reuse, and recycle old bowling balls!
Can You Recycle Bowling Balls?
Undoubtedly, the question on everybody’s lips is whether you can recycle bowling balls. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no, you cannot recycle bowling balls. This means you can’t expect your local recycling center to accept old bowling balls.
The reason bowling balls cannot be recycled is because of the materials used to make them. Bowling balls are made of one of three materials – polyester, resin, and urethane.
Polyester (or plastic) bowling balls are typically made for beginners and children as it is the least expensive material, and it doesn’t interact with the oils on the bowling lane.
Resin is the most expensive and hardcore bowling ball material, offering the most hook power and durability, making it the most suitable for expert bowlers.
Sitting between polyester and resin is urethane, which offers far more durability and hook power than plastic, but is easier to maintain than resin.
These three materials are rarely accepted by recycling centers, although it does depend on what your local recycling plant accepts. Some recycling plants are able to break down materials like resin and urethane, so it’s worth checking.
Also, the core of the bowling ball is another reason why it cannot be recycled. Bowling ball cores are typically made of graphite (or another heavy substance like bismuth) and added to the resin, making for an extremely heavy core. This can’t really be cut in half, let alone recycled properly.
Ways Bowling Balls Can Be Reused
Just because a bowling ball probably can’t be recycled in a regular recycling plant doesn’t mean it can’t be reused in a fun way. After all, one of the definitions of recycling is to use something again, so you should look for ways to repurpose and reuse old bowling balls instead.
One of the best ways bowling balls can be reused is if you donate them to a local youth program. Youth programs are designed to encourage kids to socialize and have fun outside their home environments, and almost every program is always open for sport equipment donations.
You never know, there could be a budding bowler in a youth program who could do with a second-hand bowling ball for practice. Of course, youth programs aren’t likely to have their own bowling alleys, but they can still use their centers for practice along with some bowling pins.
However, if you’re going to donate the bowling ball to kids, keep in mind that children and beginners work best with bowling balls made of polyester or plastic. This is because polyester doesn’t react with the oils in a bowling alley, so it can be used on virtually any flat surface, including the floor of a community youth center.
If you cannot find a local youth center that wants your bowling ball, then you can try donating it to a thrift store. You can find almost anything in a thrift store, after all, so it’s likely that someone is going to pick it up. Of course, this means you won’t get any money in return, but at least you’ll know the bowling ball will be loved again elsewhere.
Turn It Into Art
Anything can be turned into art if you’ve got a creative eye. You can afford to get as crafty as you like to make a unique art installation, such as a flower holder on your dining table or windowsill, or even a one-of-a-kind centerpiece on your coffee table. Stick some candles in the holes, and you’ve got yourself a fascinating candleholder!
If you have kids, now is the best time to get creative with them. You can turn this into a fun afternoon project where they can create their own designs on the bowling ball – whether it’s covering it in rhinestones or painting it into a globe.
If you have multiple bowling balls, or just one bowling ball and a bunch of other sports balls (like a soccer ball, tennis ball, and even golf balls), you could even paint the whole solar system. Cover the balls with different paint colors to make them look like planets, and you’ve got a brilliant installation piece to go in the living room or kid’s bedroom!
Something that is common amongst ex-bowlers is that they turn their bowling balls into garden objects. This can range anywhere from repurposing it into a flower pot, or even turning it into a water installation. You can also paint it gray to resemble a rock if there’s an empty area in the garden that needs filling.
There’s no end to what you can do with an old bowling ball – you’ve just got to be prepared to put in some elbow grease when cutting it open. Plus, repurposing a bowling ball and keeping it in your backyard or home is a lovely nod to your passion for bowling!
If you’re not the artistic type, but you’d love to see your bowling ball reused in a unique way, you can also ask local artists if they think they can do anything with it.
Turn It Into A Decoration
If a holiday is coming up, get your paint out and turn your bowling ball into a one-of-a-kind holiday decoration! This is probably the most entertaining way to repurpose an old bowling ball and means you can be as creative as you like.
For example, you can paint it into a permanent Jack-o-lantern for Halloween, Or, paint it into a large candy apple with a wooden stick coming out of one of the holes. You can also paint it into a large Easter egg or a bauble for Christmas!
Give It To A Bowling Alley
There’s never any harm in asking your local bowling alley if they take donations! If your bowling ball is in good condition, they might happily take it from you. Most bowling alleys are always looking for new in-house bowling balls made from a range of materials to suit various skill levels.
Plus, if you used to be a keen bowler (or perhaps you’ve just outgrown your plastic bowling ball), donating it to a bowling alley is a lovely way to thank the sport and progress further.
If your bowling ball is damaged or cracked, the bowling alley probably won’t take it from you unless they know they can fix it up. Keep this in mind, because you might need to send it off to be refurbished.
Sometimes all your old bowling ball needs is a good scrub and fix-up to be good as new again! It might take a while to research, but you should be able to find a local professional who can refurbish your bowling ball if it’s in a particularly rough condition. A nearby bowling alley should be able to give you a recommendation if you’re struggling to find a guy.
Alternatively, if you don’t think the bowling ball needs too much of refurbishment, you can always do it yourself! Depending on the ball’s condition, you should still ask for advice from a bowling alley. Refurbishing it yourself is also the cheapest way to bring it back to life.
If you simply want your bowling ball to be freshened up again after years of use, it might be worth buying a new bowling ball entirely. This is especially true for expert bowlers because the original ball might not work in the way it once did.
Make It Into A Game
You don’t have to refurbish a bowling ball for it to still be usable. Of course, it won’t perform in the way it once did after years of use and abuse, but you can still find ways to turn the ball into a game.
You can be as creative as you like when turning an old bowling ball into a backyard game. If you have kids, encourage them to experiment with it! They can place the ball in the middle of the backyard and try to throw smaller balls near it, and the closest throw wins. They can see who can throw the bowling ball the farthest.
Just make sure the ball itself is safe to use. If the ball features large cracks or potentially dangerous dents, this can lead to cuts and scratches. Also, make sure to stay in the backyard when small kids are playing with a bowling ball because the weight might be too much for them to handle.
Donate To A Zoo
While this might seem like a rogue way to reuse a bowling ball, zoos, and animal shelters are generally very grateful for random materials donated by the public! Zoos are known for turning ordinary objects into an enrichment activity for animals, which includes bowling balls.
For example, the holes of bowling balls can be filled with food for long-tongued animals like anteaters and echidnas. Bowling balls can even be used as a game for sturdy animals like rhinos or lions.
The only reason why a zoo or animal sanctuary might not accept your bowling ball donation is if the bowling ball isn’t in good condition. After all, a cracked or broken bowling ball can cause harm to animals.
Use For Pets
In the same way that bowling balls can be good enrichment tools for zoo animals, they can also be great for pets! Stuffing treats and food into the deep holes of a bowling ball can be a great distraction tool for anxious dogs, and can also encourage other pets to play for their food.
Of course, bowling balls can pose a danger to small pets thanks to the weight of the ball. You can attach the ball itself to a wall (ensuring that it’s sturdy enough) to prevent it from rolling over delicate paws.
Unfortunately, most pets (including heavy and large dogs) shouldn’t play with a bowling ball. The ball itself is generally far too heavy and poses a risk of broken paws and toes, which can take a long time to heal. For the safety of your pets, you might want to avoid allowing them to play with bowling balls.
Use As A Spare Ball
Just because you might have progressed to a ball with better strike aim and hook power doesn’t mean you should immediately part with your old bowling ball! You never know when the lane conditions are going to be bad, and if you don’t want to risk your new ball being affected by the oils, you can use your old ball for practice as a backup.
Lanes inevitably will lose their slickness after multiple uses. So, instead of wasting your energy trying to use your new ball on a poor lane, you can still practice with your old one! In fact, a lot of pros will bring their spare ball to a lane along with their strike ball and primary spare ball.
Bowling balls aren’t really the most expensive sports equipment, ranging from $40 to over $100 for a new bowling ball depending on your skill level. However, for those on a budget, buying second-hand sports equipment is the only option.
So, if you want to help someone else out by selling your old bowling ball for a cheaper price, try to sell it online! Craigslist and eBay are filled with random finds, and somebody out there is almost definitely going to be looking for a bowling ball. Plus, it means you get a bit of money back in return, so it’s a win-win!
However, if the bowling ball looks too damaged to sell for a good price, then you can try listing it on a local Facebook page. We all know that Facebook MarketPlace is a haven for random objects, so you never know if someone is looking for a battered bowling ball.
Turn It Into Gym Equipment
Bowling balls are surprisingly more versatile than you might think. If you’re not going to use your old bowling ball for bowling, then add it to your home gym!
Bowling balls are sturdy and heavy balls that range in weight from 6 to 16 pounds, making them an ideal substitute for weights. So, even if you don’t have your own home gym with dumbbells, you can use a bowling ball for a successful arm workout.
You can even use them as an elevated balancing spot for push-ups – just make sure that they don’t wobble too much, or else you risk spraining your wrist.
Can I Throw Away My Bowling Ball?
If you’re not bothered about repurposing your bowling ball – especially if it’s damaged beyond use – you might be wondering if you can simply throw it away. Unfortunately, you can’t always chuck the bowling ball in the trash.
This is mostly because local areas will have specific rules on how much trash you can throw away depending on the weight. So, if the bowling ball exceeds a specific weight, then you can’t simply throw it.
Even if you manage to cut the bowling ball in half or into pieces to throw away separately, this is still the least eco-friendly way to dispose of a bowling ball. This can emit hazardous chemicals and materials into the ecosystem and to sanitation workers, which benefits nobody.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Do Old Bowling Balls End Up?
Old bowling balls can end up anywhere! As they’re not easy to recycle or dispose of in the trash, bowling balls are often donated to charities, youth programs, and even back in bowling alleys.
In some cases, people with old bowling balls will turn them into decorations around the house. Bowling balls are easier to repurpose and reuse than recycle and dispose of, after all.
How Do You Break Open A Bowling Ball?
You don’t have to use any fancy equipment to break open a bowling ball – just a regular hammer and chisel will work fine! Just take your time to hammer the chisel around the ball slowly. It will take some time, but it will open it up effectively.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, these 11 ways to dispose of, reuse, and recycle old bowling balls will have given you some inspiration. While recycling and throwing out a bowling ball is quite a tricky task, there are countless ways to repurpose old bowling balls.
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