When I read that 1.3 Billion Pounds of Pumpkins wind up in the landfill each year I was in shock. (1) I know that carving pumpkins is a popular activity but wow. 1.3 Billion Pounds? There are many more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your pumpkin other than throwing it in the trash. Here’s what to do with that pumpkin instead of putting it out for collection:
Each year we have the same ritual. We carve our jack-o-lantern, take out the seeds, save some seeds to grow new pumpkins and roast the rest in the oven with sea salt for snacking. The jack-o-lantern is placed on the porch with a small candle for us to enjoy and maybe the UPS driver. However, after the pumpkin starts to fall apart I know it’s time to move it to the compost pile or place in the woods for the deer and squirrels to enjoy.
Keeping your pumpkin from the landfill is beneficial for several reasons. First, it keeps the landfill down. 1.3 Billion Pounds is a lot of bulk to add to the waste piles. Plus, it takes gasoline from trucks and fuel from landfill machines to move and get the pumpkins to the landfill. This also has a negative impact on the environment. If even half of the people with pumpkins composted or repurposed them it would make a major impact!
Here’s what to do with your pumpkin other than sending it to the landfill:
What happens to the leaves and things in nature when they hit the ground? They break down and return to the soil. While a pumpkin doesn’t compost as quickly as a banana peel, the flesh still breaks down over time and enriches the soil. You can speed up the composting by breaking the pumpkin up into smaller pieces and placing it with an already active compost pile.
That being said, I live in the country and composting in pallets like the ones below goes unnoticed here. If you have a smaller yard or no yard this could be trickier. You can break it up and use a compost or worm bin in your yard or take it to a friend or relative’s house with a larger composting system.
Feed it to the animals
I was surprised to see that the deer that regularly pass through our yard weren’t interested in pumpkins! However, smaller animals seem to be happy to have them and depending on the taste of the wildlife in your area you may be feeding any number of species. If you don’t want it in your yard, you may be able to take it to a local park or farm that will be happy to have the compost or food for livestock. Our local farm preserve asks for pumpkins for their pig!
Grow more pumpkins
Saving pumpkin seeds is a great way to have your own pumpkins the following year! Simply place the seeds out in the dirt and allow them to winter. They’ll spring up when the time is right in your region for growing pumpkins. Watch the long vines grow and produce pumpkins, carve and repeat! The rest of the pumpkin will still have to be composted or fed to wildlife but you’ll have plenty more for the following year!