Playing tennis provides numerous benefits—increased cardiovascular function, high calorie expenditure and social interaction to name just a few. However, while a proven boon to the health and longevity of its players, the sport is not as nourishing to the environment. That’s because in this country alone, 125 million used tennis balls are deposited in landfills every year, amounting to 20,000 metric tons of methane-producing waste that takes up to 400 years to decompose.

It would be ideal if fewer balls were used and for longer periods of time, but that’s an unlikely scenario. There are basically two types of tennis players: Those who use a new can of balls every time they hit the courts, and hoarders. Most prefer the dependable and livelier bounce of a fresh tennis ball over something bald and deflated with little tread left on its felt. And if you’re a frequent player, you know how quickly those cans can add up.

RecycleBalls offers a worthwhile solution to this waste problem. The Vermont-based, non-profit collects, recycles and reuses old tennis balls to make new products. Since 2016 it has saved more than 7 million tennis balls from landfills and repurposed them into such things as tennis court surface and rubber mulch. The goal is to reach 20 million recycled balls by 2024.

The collection process is simple, and anyone can join the growing network of partners and contributors. Convenient, easy-to-assemble cardboard bins are placed courtside to stockpile discarded balls. Each bin comes with a prepaid UPS shipping label, and once it’s filled—each holds exactly 200 balls—can be sent back to the RecyleBalls headquarters in Vermont.

Once there, many of the balls are ground up to remove the felt from the rubber. The resulting rubber crumb, dubbed GREEN GOLD, is used in the construction of tennis courts, natural ground cover and sign bases, with the hopes of addressing other green projects. Some balls are also allotted to be purchased as “no trash” dog balls that can be recycled back at no cost.

Whether an individual, tennis facility, volunteer or sponsor, there are multiple ways to get involved with the program. For more information visit