Disposing your pumpkins sustainably

NOW: Disposing your pumpkins sustainably

Halloween season is ending, but before you toss those in the trash, you may want to consider some more sustainable options. Of the 63,000 tons of food produced, more than 35,000 tons go to landfills.

When your pumpkin is sent off to the landfill, it does not decompose in the way you might think. Since the pumpkins are mixed in with other garbage, the landfill lacks the ingredient base needed, so it doesn’t decompose organically, emitting greenhouse gases.

Composting is one option, which creates nutrient-rich soil for gardens and houseplants.

Amanda Leichliter Glowacki at Turtle Ridge Compost says pumpkins can improve the soil for your gardens.

“If you have a home garden, or even a garden in-ground, we say to--you’ll have a solid base--and then every year you augment with the compost on top, it’s just a really nutrient-dense soil," said Leichliter Glowacki.

Always make sure to start with a clean pumpkin, free of paint. Learn how to compost your pumpkin here.

A whole, uncarved pumpkin can last up to 12 weeks; however, its usually not very useful after Halloween, but there are plenty of ways to keep it from becoming just another piece of produce rotting in a landfill.

“It’s hard for us to think about of pumpkins going to the landfill every, so if there’s any way you can do something with them other than putting them in your trash," said Leichliter Glowacki. "I think there’s a lot of options.”

One option is food, of course. Let's not forget that a pumpkin is a vegetable and can be eaten; however, typical carving pumpkins are not as tasty as the smaller, sweeter varieties used for baking. Howden pumpkins are bred for size, shape, color and having a handle-like stem for easy carrying, but the insides can be made into a puree for baking.

Uncarved pumpkins also make great food for livestock.

As for carved jack-o-lanterns and all other pumpkins, the best way to get rid of your pumpkins and relieve some anger is with some pumpkin smashing therapy.

Please do not leave those smashed pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns out for wildlife, it’s a common misconception but it can disrupt their natural biology, spread disease and if you leave it near a heavy traffic area, it can be dangerous as more animals flock to the food.

Be on the lookout for pumpkin smashing events near you that compost pumpkin remains, like this one in South Bend on November 5.

Share this article: