Tennis has a fuzzy yellow problem most players don’t think about when they open can after can of fresh balls, or when umpires at U.S. Open matches make their frequent requests for “new balls please.”

Because tennis balls are extremely hard to recycle and the industry has yet to develop a ball to make that easier, nearly all of the 330 million balls made worldwide each year eventually get chucked in the garbage, with most ending up in landfills, where they can take more than 400 years to decompose. It’s a situation highlighted by Grand Slam events like Flushing Meadows, which will go through nearly 100,000 balls over the course of the tournament.

That harsh reality in an age of heightened environmental awareness has sent ball makers, recyclers and the game’s worldwide governing body scrambling for solutions, and spurred sustainability activists to sound the alarm in online posts that pose the question: Are tennis balls a disaster for the planet?

  • Flying Squid
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    178 months ago

    nearly all of the 330 million balls made worldwide each year eventually get chucked in the garbage

    Think of how many dogs those balls could improve the lives of!

      • Flying Squid
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        118 months ago

        Interesting. I didn’t know that. Thanks.

      • FuglyDuck
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        28 months ago

        I wonder if raquette balls (non-fuzzy ….uhm… blue…. Er… balls…) are bad for the teeth- or for small dogs, squash balls (they’re smaller.) both are just hollow shells of rubber.

        • @joe
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          48 months ago

          There might be a choking hazard depending on how they break up? A vet would be able to tell you more definitely.

          • @Fondots
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            38 months ago

            Annecdotally, my old dog loved racquet balls, and despite being a prodigious toy destroyer, never managed to destroy one. My current dog has a ball that’s similar to a racquet ball in construction and feels like the same kind of rubber, and it’s also holding up fine, although it’s not exactly her favorite ball.

            They are a bit smaller than a tennis ball, so depending on the size of your dog and how they play with them they could be a choking/swallowing hazard in that respect, but thats not something that’s ever been a major concern with my dogs.

          • FuglyDuck
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            8 months ago

            They don’t really break up. At least, I’ve not seen a dog do that to them in the same way they destroy the fuzzy ones. Also they keep the bounce longer

            • @joe
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              38 months ago

              I have a golden doodle and he will destroy almost any toy in a few minutes. The only exception is those solid rubbery dog toys, which take him several hours to start chipping away at.

              They’re probably fine but if you are really concerned, call a local veterinarian office and ask.

    • @bajabound
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      48 months ago

      I bought 400 used tennis balls on eBay a few years ago for about $75. My dogs don’t chew on them, just to fetch. And after a couple throws theres not much fluff left. It’s slobber and dirt. Vet never complains about the state of their teeth. Great investment vs buying them new.

  • @zefiax
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    8 months ago

    Am I the only one who sees tennis balls more as green than yellow? And no I am not colorblind, it just looks closer to lime green to me then yellow.

    • callyral
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      68 months ago

      to me the ones in the photo are yellow but i usually see them green and imagine them green too

      • @zefiax
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        18 months ago

        Ya the photo is definitely more yellowish but I play tennis regularly and I always see it as green in person.

    • @NewNewAccount
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      28 months ago

      Yellow and green are adjacent to each other on the visible spectrum so it’s easy for there to be colors “in between”, like the color of a tennis ball.

    • Apathy Tree
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      28 months ago

      I don’t know what you experience as green or yellow. To me those balls look like what I would label yellow (tho on the greenish side rather than the orangeish side), but for all I know, what I actually see is what you would call green. Just that I’ve been taught this color is yellow.

      So what if everyone actually has the same favorite color range, they just use different labels for it because they were taught that’s what the color they are seeing is? (I don’t really think that’s how it works, but I don’t know that it isn’t because experience is subjective, and how would you really test it when color names are arbitrary? Fun to think about.)

      • @zefiax
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        18 months ago

        That’s a thought I’ve always had a well, of we all actually like the same colours. Also could just be how you are raised. I remember calling tennis it green since I was a child and no one disagreed so the colour I see for a tennis ball, my brain sees as more green than yellow. It actually blew my mind when I first realized some people consider that colour to be yellow or at the very least closer to yellow.

    • @kurwa
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      108 months ago

      The outer shell of the ball is 2/3 wool, 1/3 nylon.

      • @reddig33
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        28 months ago

        Well, tennis balls existed before nylon, so I’m guessing eliminating the nylon shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • @[email protected]
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    78 months ago

    No, Tennis balls are not a distaster for the planet. It’s fossil fuel companies and corrupt politicians that are a disaster. Don’t get distracted by tennis balls.

  • Franzia
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    -18 months ago

    Seriously what they are 2/3 wool and 1/3 nylon thread? This sounds like the most recyclable product I have ever fucking heard of. More bullshit. Dont post this junk, OP.