What happens with used tennis balls?
This project started when Carolina asked the question - how many tennis balls are used in the US every year? She and I decided to do a little research as well as some simple math based on all the people who play in this country and we came up with a large number: 400 Million tennis balls are used every year!
We were concerned
Tennis balls have a very short useful life because once they lose pressure they aren't suitable for playing and are commonly referred to as "dead". Tennis balls are not biodegradable and aside from being used as pet toys or to cover the legs of school chairs, we couldn't find ways to reuse them. This means that lots of tennis balls end up in landfills.
Putting this in context
Tennis players usually keep their used tennis balls in ball hoppers and each hopper is roughly 1 cubic foot and holds 60 balls.
Now imagine the inside of a 747 jumbo jet - it's volume is roughly 32,000 cubic feet (or 32,000 hoppers). This means that about 2 million balls (60*32,000) would fill up this massive airplane. But the tennis community goes through 400 million each year! Imagine two hundred jumbo jets full of tennis balls in landfills each year!
The first design
The first prototype
We've assembled the prototype chair and have tested it by sitting on it daily as well as having our friends try it out. Even the skeptics have given it high marks and everyone has agreed it's therapeutic and provides the feeling of getting a massage.
We have also contacted furniture manufacturers in North Carolina where we live and will conduct more tests at a local university, but there is much more required to make this project a reality
From prototype to viable product - The Plan
Here's what we still need to do and why we're asking for your help:
- Finalize the design, including finding the most environmentally-friendly material for the frame.
- Design the packaging in which the kit will be stored.
- Buy materials.
- Create the community web site.
Some cool ideas
Painting balls in different colors is one option we've explored. There are others such as writing the names of tennis friends on the balls or inscribing memorable dates. Hopefully we will achieve our goal and create a community website showcasing all the different chairs made with the kit.
1. Can you send me used tennis balls if I want to buy a kit but don't have enough balls?
Of course. They'll be used and it may take a little while for us to send them to you, but we'll make sure you get them.
2. Is the chair I get the same as the one in the picture?
Not exactly but it will look very similar to what we've shown here. We will continue to perfect the design until we get it just right.
Carolina and Gabriel