Through their collection bins at local tennis clubs in the Greater Toronto Area, Balls 4 Eyeballs raises funds for important eye research. We spoke with co-founder Ethan Waisberg to find out more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
Balls 4 Eyeballs places tennis ball collection bins at local tennis clubs in the Greater Toronto Area to collect used balls, and then sells them to fund eye research. Our non-profit aims to make tennis ‘greener’ by encouraging tennis ball recycling to fund eye research.
What problem does it aim to solve?
As avid tennis players, it bothered us that many players open a new can of balls and discard them after only a few hours of use. Millions of tennis balls are thrown away globally each year, and with no recycling program in place, they go directly into landfills. Many consider used tennis balls trash and are not aware of the environmental harm that tennis balls can have on the planet, and that a single tennis ball takes hundreds of years to decompose, thereby contributing to climate change. Also, Ethan, a co-founder of Balls 4 Eyeballs, has conducted volunteer eye research for the past four years in the U.K., Canada and the U.S., and noticed that eye research in Canada was comparatively underfunded. We came up with the idea of Balls 4 Eyeballs to help solve the problem of tennis balls being discarded and to help fund eye research.
When did you start/join it?
In early 2021 we co-founded Balls 4 Eyeballs.
What made you want to get involved?
Our interest in tennis along with Ethan’s passion for research, our love of volunteering and giving back to our community, as well as our desire to help those suffering from vision loss, were other important reasons why we co-founded Balls 4 Eyeballs.
What was the situation like when you started?
Most people are not aware that a single tennis ball can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills, and that millions are thrown away globally each year. As there are no municipal recycling programs in place for tennis balls in Toronto, they go directly into landfill.
How has it changed since?
Through our program, we help raise awareness about the negative environmental impact of throwing away tennis balls, and that instead they can be reused, repurposed or donated. Used tennis balls have many other uses such as the bottoms of chairs or desks for quieter classrooms, ball hockey, batting or cricket practice, ball machines, toys for kids or pets, arts and crafts and household uses. So far we have collected over 100,000 balls which translates to more than 12,000 pounds of non-decomposable waste.
What more needs to be done?
More needs to be done to raise awareness about the environmental harm of throwing away tennis balls. You should think twice before throwing out your used tennis balls, and try to reuse, repurpose or donate them.
How can our readers help?
We are looking for em-BALL-saddors to help us so that we can expand our program to more clubs! We’re a fun team to volunteer with and it’s really great to be able to help the environment and vision research as well. We are also looking for high schools in Toronto to partner with so that students can learn about sustainability and help us pack balls while earning community involvement hours.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We support the following awesome charities: Fighting Blindness Canada, Orbis International and Medical Ministry International.