If you’ve got an old bowling ball that’s provided years of service for you at your local bowling alley, parting can be such sweet sorrow. For most bowlers, growing attached to bowling equipment is just kind of a thing. And when a bowling ball just doesn’t have that trademark juice anymore, be it due to damage or just plain age, throwing it away can often feel like bowler sacrilege.
Before you head to your local pro shop and put your old bowling ball out to pasture, we’ve got some ideas for what to do with it. From heading over to your local Goodwill to repurposing it as the centerpiece of some inventive craft projects, you can give your bowling ball new life rather than simply tossing it away.
8 Things You Can Do With An Old Bowling Ball
1) Donate It To A Thrift Store (Or Youth Project)
Regardless of whether you have a plastic, urethane, or reactive bowling ball, donating it to a thrift store or youth program is a cool way to pay things forward. Old bowling balls may not have the zip and flip that you’re looking for on your first shot. But, that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be able to learn from it and bowl with it.
Kids who are just learning the sport often need balls that have less reactivity. And if your reactive resin ball is starting to get muted in heavy oil, it might be a perfect donation match for a community center that takes children on bowling alley field trips with regularity.
And if you can’t find a youth program that’s interested in your old ball, donate it to a local thrift shop. Bowlers who don’t have the money to spend on a new ball will appreciate it.
2) Turn Your Bowling Ball Into A Piece Of Art
Get crafty with your old bowling ball. Bust out your paint supplies and turn your ball into a coffee table centerpiece or windowsill flower holder. Get creative with it, slapping sparkles and rhinestones on it. Heck, you can even get your kids involved and turn it into a family art project!
One thing we’ve seen a lot of bowlers do with their trusty, old bowling ball is to repurpose it as a garden or lawn decoration. It’s fun to do and it shows people in your neighborhood how much you love the sport of bowling.
Diving into the world of arts and crafts is a great way to pay respect to a ball that’s been a part of your bowling game for years and years.
3) Use It When Lane Conditions Break Down
It never hurts to expand your bowling ball arsenal. Your ball might be too roughed up to be your primary strike ball anymore. But, you can still roll it out of your bag as a less-reactive option when oil conditions get choppy and high reactivity is a liability.
Don’t get rid of a ball that can still help you in a pinch. Before you dispose of your old bowling ball, test it out as a spare ball at the end of a long league session. If you can still collect marks with it when the lanes start to lose their slickness, don’t throw it in the garbage. Grab a three-ball bowling bag to house your strike ball, primary spare ball, and your old backup ball. You’ll be glad you did.
4) Gift It To A Bowling Alley Or Pro Shop
The guys and gals at your local bowling alley are always looking for new house balls. Some alleys even pin their house ball stocks on the hopes that bowlers like you will entrust them with your old bowling equipment. And while you might not be using their house shoes anymore (you know, the ones that often seem to be held together with a touch of glue), donating your ball is a cool way to give back to an alley that’s provided you with lots of fun times over the years.
You could also check out local pro shops in your area and see if they take in old equipment for refurbishment. Your old gear could very well become useful again with the help of an ingenious pro shop owner.
5) Fix It Up (If You Can)
Speaking of pro shop owners, maybe you know a guy who can give your ball a needed lift to play like new again. If your core is displaced or your cover stock is cracked, your ball might still have some hope. Take it over to a pro shop your trust and get their advice. If the cost of fixing it up is worth it to you, you can simply recycle your ball by continuing to use it yourself!
If you’ve used the ball for years and it’s simply the reactivity that’s starting to drop off, a new strike ball might be a safer bet. But, it’s worth a try to bring it over to a pro shop or trusted friend and get a second opinion.
6) Offer It Up On Craigslist Or eBay
Advertising your old bowling ball on Craigslist or eBay is a good way to get rid of your old ball while potentially making a few bucks out of the deal. To be honest, these sites can be a zoo of scams and strange finds. If you’re straightforward about what you have and fair about the price you are asking for, you have a good chance of offloading it to adults or kids looking to save money on equipment.
And if you think that your ball is too trashed to sell in an online marketplace, note that there are likely a dozen or more buy-nothing Facebook groups in and around your area that might have interested parties willing to take it off your hands.
7) Recycling, Reducing, Reusing
The only bowling balls that can be recycled are those that don’t have cores and those with plastic outer shells. Due to environmental impacts and potential costs, balls with urethane and reactive resin cover stocks are often declined by recycling centers. Simply put, don’t just throw your ball into a recycling bin.
Call your local recycling service and ask them questions. Tell them everything about your ball, from its composition to information about the core inside. If they can recycle it, they’ll give you directions on how and where to drop it off. If not, you’re going to have to look at other options elsewhere on this list.
8) Throw It Away, But Do It Safely
It isn’t the prettiest picture, but throwing your ball away is a less resort worth considering. If you’re doing some summer cleaning and have exhausted all of your other options, you can toss your ball away in the trash — provided that it doesn’t exceed any weight limits or contain hazardous materials that will jeopardize the health and safety of sanitation workers in your neighborhood.
If we were in your position, we’d do everything we could to make sure that our old bowling ball got a better send-off than getting tossed in the trash. Look into the seven options higher on this countdown and exhaust every other possibility you can.
Chances are that you can recycle the ball, repurpose it, or donate it to someone who can use it. Any of these options will feel a lot more rewarding than chucking a ball away. And, it will feel a lot more respectful to a ball that has been by your side for hundreds if not thousands of bowling games.