Everyone’s favorite spooky holiday is just around the corner and people are getting ready to celebrate with candy, costumes and, of course, the trusty pumpkins. Whether it’s using them in your favorite baked goods or making a spooky jack-o-lantern, pumpkins are a quintessential part of the Halloween spirit.
Unfortunately, with these pumpkins come scary consequences. Of the 1.4 billion pounds of pumpkin produced in the US each year, the vast majority ends up in landfill. Since the landfill is deliberately sealed from the elements (specifically, oxygen), the pumpkins don’t decompose to fertilize plants and soil like they would in nature. Instead, they release methane, a gas which is much more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming potential (GWP).
This is why we are encouraging people to reuse their leftover pumpkins this year with some ideas on how to get creative with your old and tired jack-o-lanterns.
1. Everybody Loves Compost
The easiest way to reuse your pumpkins is by putting them into the soil in your garden. Composting is free and easy, it enriches the soil, and lowers the prevalence of garden pests all while eliminating the need to buy fertilizer.
If you already have a composting system at home, then you probably don’t need to be told to chuck your old pumpkins in there after Halloween. If you don’t yet compost, and you’re lucky enough to have a garden (no matter how small), then maybe you should think about starting up a compost heap or buying a composting bin. It is super easy and will drastically reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill.
If you don’t have a garden, consider getting in touch with somebody who does through sharewaste.com and sending your pumpkins their way. Sharewaste.com is a platform that connects people who are unable to compost their organic waste with others who do compost.
2. Make Biodegradable Growing Trays
On a similar line, you can use your pumpkin carcass to plant seeds. Just fill it up with some soil, plant the seeds you’d like to grow (you could even plant some of the pumpkin seeds you fished out when you gutted the pumpkin), and watch them grow! Once the seedlings are ready to be planted in your garden or in a pot, you can just plant the whole thing (the entire pumpkin-carcass-seed-tray extravaganza) into the soil – the pumpkin flesh will rot and give the soil much-needed nutrients!
3. Eat Pumpkin For Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
The best thing about a pumpkin is that pretty much all of it is edible (as long as you make sure to get rid of any residual candle wax first)! Pumpkin seeds can be roasted to make a tasty snack (and are a great source of fiber, magnesium, iron, etc). The stringy guts can be boiled in water to make a delicious stock base for your favorite soup recipes and the flesh can be used for anything from pumpkin puree pancakes to pasta dishes to pie! You could even use the hollowed-out center of your pumpkin as a place to cook your stew in (or put cider in). With smaller pumpkins, you can cut them into little bowls, season them, and roast them.
4. Have An Autumn-Themed Spa Day
Did you know that pumpkin is also high in vitamins A and C and antioxidants? This makes it great for your hair and skin, so why not have a post-Halloween pamper session with your pumpkin leftovers? You can mix blended pumpkin with coconut oil to make a moisturizing hair mask or make an organic (and inexpensive) face mask out of just pumpkin, a banana, a bit of honey, and lemon juice. A perfect autumnal spa day after the Halloween festivities!
5. (Trick or) Treat the Wildlife in Your Garden
If you don’t want to do any of these things with your leftover pumpkins (or you have enough to try everything on the list), then why not leave them in the garden and watch them get munched by birds, woodchucks, or deer. You could give them to pet chickens looking for a feast as well. You can get creative with this and create a bird feeder or just leave it lying around for animals to help themselves.
If you don’t have a garden, check to see if you can give away your pumpkin to feed animals at your local farm or zoo, as most animals love pumpkin! We hope you feel inspired to reuse your pumpkins after halloween and hope you have a great spooky season!