Fall has arrived, leaves are starting to turn beautiful hues of copper, and pumpkins are popping up in all of the stores. Pumpkins will soon be spotted on doorsteps, used as festive centerpieces, and carved into creative jack-o-lanterns. But, what happens to those pumpkins when the festivities have subsided?
As we enter the season of “Everything Pumpkin,” we want to bring awareness to the use and disposal of pumpkins, to create mindful consumption and protect our planet. Last year, over one billion pumpkins were grown in the U.S., but only 20% of them were grown for food production purposes. That means 80% were grown for decorative purposes, meaning most pumpkins ended up rotting in landfills, generating harmful greenhouse gas emissions. But, we can prevent this. Just because the season ends, doesn’t mean your pumpkin needs to end up in the trash bin. There are numerous ways to repurpose and dispose of your pumpkin in a more environmentally friendly way. From food to facials, let’s explore some creative ways to repurpose those pumpkins.
It’s always easiest to start with food. Eating seems like the most logical thing to do with your excess pumpkins, but sometimes, the pumpkins we purchase for decorative purposes aren’t the tastiest. The Howden pumpkin, which is the most common pumpkin grown for Halloween, was hybridized for looks and not flavor. But, that doesn’t mean its inedible. Roasting the seeds and using the flesh for purees that go into baking, such as pumpkin bread, are great alternatives. Just be mindful, if the pumpkin has been used as a jack-o-lantern, make sure you cut away any areas that have been exposed candle wax. If the pumpkin has begun decomposing do not eat it, we have safer alternatives below.
Next season, consider opting for smaller sweeter varieties such as the Jarrahdale & Pie Pumpkin. They are just as festive but have better flavor for creating those delicious holiday dishes.
The best alternative for pumpkins that were used as jack-o-lanterns is to compost them. Pumpkins are organic waste, which means they are a great source of nutrients for the soil. If you don’t have a composting pile but have a backyard, you can easily chop it up and bury it. Be mindful to remove the seeds unless you are looking to grow your own pumpkin patch next spring. You can start your own composting pile with tips and videos from our
Beautify With It!
Pumpkins are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A & C, which are well known for glowing skin and hair. Turning your pumpkin into face serums or hair masks are a clever ways to repurpose it.
Here are a few recipes to try.
Redecorate With It!
What comes after Halloween? Yes, Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is an easy transition to repurpose uncut pumpkins for your holiday decor, but what about Christmas? There are actually numerous ways you can turn your pumpkin into adorable Christmas decorations by wrapping them in festive holiday fabrics, or breaking out the eco-friendly paints. How about an adorable snowman, or fun and festive ornaments?
Check out these easy DIY Pumpkin Christmas Decorations:
Don’t feel inspired to take on the tasks above? Consider donating it to a local farmer to use as feed for their livestock. Or, if you have acreage, chop it up and place it around your land for animals passing through. They can benefit greatly from having additional food as winter arrives. Just remember, keep it as far away from your house as possible, so you don’t have unwanted guests roaming around.
Drop It Off!
Many communities have pumpkin recycling programs popping up to prevent them from ending up in landfills. Check with your local recycling facility or community council to see where you can drop off your unused pumpkins. Also, placing your pumpkins in your green waste bin is an option as long as it hasn’t been painted.
As the holiday season ramps up and then comes to a close, be mindful of your consumption and consider how your actions directly impact the health of our planet. There are numerous ways to celebrate. Utilize your power of choice, enjoy your holiday pumpkins and give thanks to the amazing farmers that grow them, and honor our planet by disposing of your holiday pumpkins responsibly.