Sustainable Solutions

Ways to reduce our impacts on wildlife and the planet

Waste Not, Haunt Not

Sustainable Ways to Dispose of Pumpkins

Fall means sunflowers, tarantulas and, if you’re anything like me, many, many pumpkins. Pumpkin patches and grocery stores sell all manner of this festive seasonal gourd. From smooth and cute to warty and wild, pumpkins are available everywhere you look.

Whether you carve your pumpkins or simply pile them around your home to bring the harvest vibe inside, you may be left wondering what to do with your pumpkins post-Halloween.

Think twice before tossing your pumpkins in the trash. Not only does trashing your pumpkins contribute to food waste, but with around one billion pumpkins ending up in American landfills each year, a significant amount of methane gas is released into the atmosphere as pumpkins decompose in landfill conditions.

You can always toss your gourds in the green can, but to be even more environmentally friendly, here are some creative ways to repurpose these fall staples at home:

— Donate your uncarved pumpkins to LWE to provide our ambassadors with a healthy seasonal snack.

— If you haven’t carved your pumpkin, you can cook it up into a number of savory or sweet treats. Try peeling the rind to make nutritious pumpkin chips, or roasting the seeds to add to a healthy granola or cereal. Other favorites include pumpkin pie, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin ravioli!

— Compost it! Before composting your pumpkins, make sure you remove the seeds if you don’t want surprise pumpkins sprouting up from your compost pile or garden. If you don’t have the time or space for a compost pile, you can post-hole compost your pumpkins either by burying your pumpkin whole, or cutting it up and burying the pieces in multiple holes around your landscape. As the pumpkins decompose, they will provide food for beneficial organisms and recycle water and nutrients back into the soil. Make sure to bury your pumpkins at least 12 inches underground to avoid attracting wildlife.

— Make a nourishing face mask by pureeing a slice of pumpkin and adding things like honey, milk, cinnamon, eggs, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Find a recipe online and tailor it to your tastes to give your skin a seasonal boost!

Don’t let yourself be haunted by the spirit of pumpkins past! Whether they wind up in your garden, in your belly or on your face, try giving your Halloween pumpkins a second life this year. The planet will thank you!