12 Ways To Dispose Of And Recycle Old Bowling Balls Safely

My parents used to bowl a few times a month back in the 90s. They both had their own bowling balls and shoes. Currently I have my mother’s old bowling ball and it still works just fine but I want to get a new one and won’t need this anymore.

How many different ways are there that I can recycle my old bowling ball?There are at least a dozen different ways to recycle and donate an old bowling ball. From selling it or giving it away to fellow bowlers, donating it to youth teams, artists, zoo’s and using it as lawn decorations.

Quite a lot of bowlers don’t try to recycle or donate their old bowling balls due to not knowing what to do with them or where to take them. So when it does come time to do it instead of 1 or 2 bowling balls they have 4 or more. Recycling or donating your old bowling balls doesn’t have to be difficult, it can actually be a very fun and rewarding experience.

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plastic bowling ball
My mother’s old bowling ball

Can bowling balls be recycled?

Unfortunately they cant. They’re just too complicated to recycle. With the many different types of materials it takes to make up a bowling ball from the inner core to the filler and the coverstock. It’s just too complicated.

The 4 different types of coverstock materials are plastic/polyester(these are the materials of beginner bowling balls), urethane, reactive and particle. They’re made to be strong and last long, so they aren’t exactly traditional recycle friendly. 

Although it depends on the recycling plants ability to break down certain materials, the different types of processes they have, their people power and the buyers of their end products. If they happen to have places they sell to that take old bowling balls then I don’t see why they wouldn’t accept them.

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Call the local recycling centers in your area and ask if they take old bowling balls. Never hurts to ask.

On the off chance, they can’t be recycled the traditional way by dropping them off at a recycling center doesn’t mean they can’t be recycled in another way. Artists are great for finding uses for everyday items that can no longer be used for their intended purposes. Every area has artists in it, you just have to open your eyes and find them.

A local community college is sure to have an art program that would probably take them for craft projects. Another thought is that if you’re not far from a zoo or animal shelter or sanctuary the bowling balls could be used as toys for the larger animals, as long as they’re not cracked. Cracked bowling balls could harm the animals.

A cool idea would be if you created some kind of backyard game with your old bowling balls. Could be anything. Even just seeing who could toss theirs the farthest. Maybe even some kinds of shuffle board game or something. Use your imagination.

It’s admirable that you’d think to recycle your old bowling equipment, some people just throw them out without a thought. Search online and you’ll see a few news articles about bowling balls found in creeks and tossed aside highways and even rivers. Some people just don’t care and it’s sad.

I know it may seem cumbersome trying to find a new home for your old bowling balls but believe me, when you do not only will you make someone else happy, you’ll end up happy yourself. It’s a win-win situation.

You can’t go wrong when you help someone and pay it forward.

4 ways to recycle your old bowling balls 

  1. Local recycling center
  2. Lawn decorations 
  3. Create arts and crafts
  4. Sell them

Can you donate bowling balls?

Of course you can! People donate their old underwear, why wouldn’t you be able to donate bowling balls?

Please don’t get hung up on people donating their old underwear, I know it’s gross…but hey. Anyway, back to donating bowling balls. There are as many non traditional ways and places to donate your bowling balls as there are traditional.

You don’t have to just to to your lock goodwill and drop them off. I mean you could but there’s other places that would get better use out of your old equipment. Like lots of bowling alleys have leagues for kids and the disabled. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if there’s someone in their league who would like your old equipment. 

Or even if it could go to the program all together to help keep cost low for the families. Youth sports are already expensive as it is and parents are always looking for things for their kids to do to keep them out of trouble. 

My nephew bowling

Another option would be schools with bowling teams, there are some middle and high schools with bowling teams believe it or not. And if just your equipment isn’t enough, perhaps your league and or bowling alley could sponsor a drive to collect used bowling equipment that’s still in good shape to donate to a school district so they could start a program.

Not every kid wants to play basketball or football. Heck not all kids are built too. Bowling, as you know is for everyone. How great would you feel knowing you were apart of bringing a sport to a school that included the differently abled kids who probably feel left out of the school jock experience?

I bet you’d feel great.

Speaking of feeling great, why not try the VA? They may have a few guys and gals who might enjoy putting a team or 2 together. Donated bowling balls would be a great way to help them get started.

I’m sure if you sat and thought of all the places you could donate your old bowling equipment you could come up with even more places than I’ll outline in this article. All it takes is a little brainstorming, and if you’re not up to that, don’t beat yourself up. Just drop them off at your local goodwill or other thrift store.

Your bowling balls won’t last long let me tell you. If anything someone will see them, and if the store isn’t trying to be greedy, someone will snatch them right up.

My father and I went into a goodwill looking for used baseball equipment for my nephews and ended up finding 2 sets of double bowling ball bags each with 2 bowling balls and shoes in them for only $4.99 each, plus there were also about 4 single balls lying around there too.

Do you think we just left them there because that’s not what we went to the store to get? You better believe we didn’t! We both got one of the bags and an extra single ball each. I bought us a total of 6 bowling balls ranging in weight of 8lbs to 14lbs, 2 double bowling ball bags, 2 pair of bowling shoes and 2 extra single bowling balls all for under $20.

Great deal huh? Someone’s trash became a father and daughters treasure for bonding while bowling. And at an affordable price to boot.

Over time we will of course phase out these used balls for new ones and hope they are still good enough for maybe the kids in the family to use.

So if you don’t feel like looking for a place to take your old bowling balls and just taking them to the local thrift store is easier for you, don’t feel bad. It may really benefit someone and you may even see your gear again at your local bowling alley.

Would that be weird? I’d personally get a bit of a chuckle out of it.

8 places to donate your old bowling balls 

  1. Local bowling alley 
  2. Youth bowling league
  3. School bowling league
  4. Fellow bowlers 
  5. Local VA center
  6. Retirement center for arts and crafts
  7. Local artists
  8. Local thrift stores

What to do with cracked bowling balls?

Before you wonder what you can do with a cracked bowling ball, you should first understand how and why it cracked in the first place. So that question doesn’t become a recurring one and you’re spending tons of money on bowling balls only to have them continue to crack on you. And no I don’t mean they’re trying to ask you out.

Side note: the term “crack on you” is a term used, at least in my area, northeast America, to mean that someone is hitting on you.

Bowling balls are made of 3 different parts. Starting with the innermost part which is the core. The core of the bowling ball is, in my opinion, what makes a bowling ball. This is a LARGE part of what controls how the ball handles.

The second most inner part of a bowling ball is the filler. This is usually glass beads or a mixture of other things. The filler is what’s in between the core and the coverstock… the third and final part of the bowling ball.

The last part of the bowling ball is the coverstock. This is what you the bowler see and will want to pay close attention to. There are a few different coverstock surfaces to choose from depending on the ball itself and its use. Not all bowling balls are made equal.

Has your bowling ball cracked and you’re not sure what to do? click here to learn more

With these 3 different parts of the ball they need to be kept at a constant temperature, preferably room temperature AT ALL TIMES. Bowling balls can sweat, they contract and expand and it’s the main reason they crack. Other than damage caused by poor maintenance, it’s just their time to be retired and replaced, or they just spontaneously crack.

Now that you know what makes up a bowling ball and some of the causes of them cracking, the next thing you should know before chucking your ball in the trash is that you should see if it can be repaired.

If you’re aren’t sure, take it to a pro shop. Since chances are you personally won’t know by looking at it and may be too upset or angry and your first thought would be to throw it out due to anger. But if you cool down first and take it to your shop you might be in luck and they can fix it.

In the off chance they cant fix it and all hope is lost you could see if they could dispose of it for you. I don’t personally know of any pro shops that dispose of bowling balls but you never know. There are so many ways pro shops recycle things these days, I would put it past a few proshops to do this either now or in the near future.

On the off chance that you have to walk out of the pro shop with your cracked bowling ball that can’t be repaired…don’t sweat my pet. You can do some cool things with your cracked bowling ball and keep it near and dear to you.

There’s some creative things that can be done with a cracked bowling ball. If you have a yard they make great yard decorations with a little creativity. Paint them like a jack o lantern, or like a big apple, even paint it to look like a rock. Anything you can think of.

Don’t have a yard? Well add a few pots to your cracked bowling ball and make a statue for your condo or apartment. Bet that’ll get your parents off your back about when you’re going to marry and settle down eh?

If all else fails and you don’t feel like being creative, please don’t just throw your cracked bowling ball in the trash. If you don’t know of anyone who would be willing to take it or dont know of a place to take it yourself, try offering it for free on craigslist. Or giving it to the local community college art program. 

Trust me, someone will give your old cracked bowling ball a new life.

Related Questions

Do pro shops buy used bowling balls?

Yes and No. Not all pro shops buy used bowling balls but some do. One way to tell is if they sell used equipment or not. If they dont sell used equipment then chances are very slim to none that they buy used equipment. If the one you frequent doesn’t, don’t be embarrassed to call around to find one that does buy used equipment.

How often should I replace my bowling ball? 

If you take very good care of your bowling ball, clean it when it needs to be cleaned, store it properly and resurface it when need be, then there is no reason to have to replace your bowling ball often. Your bowling ball could last years.

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