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Don’t Toss Your Jack-o’-Lantern! Here’s How to Compost It in 5 Simple Steps

Not sure what to do with your jack-o'-lantern after Halloween? Compost it. Here's how to compost a pumpkin in five simple steps.

Written by
Briana Dodson

When you think about pumpkins, you probably imagine them lighting up your doorstep. But once November arrives and their time to shine ends, they usually wind up getting added to the staggering 40% of food that goes to waste in the United States.

Luckily, there's no need to toss your jack-o'-lantern in the garbage after Halloween is over. According to the National Wildlife Federation, pumpkins are 90% water, which means they quickly begin breaking down once you cut into them. This makes them the perfect composting material.

Instead of sitting in the landfill where they'll release harmful greenhouse gas emissions, they'll be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. Here's how to compost a pumpkin in five simple steps.

How to Compost a Pumpkin in 5 Steps

1. Remove Any Wax, Paint, or Candles

Once your pumpkin has worn out its welcome on your front porch, the first thing you'll want to do before sending it to the compost pile is remove any candle wax, paint, stickers, or anything else that's not natural.

Also, be sure to remove the seeds. If you leave them, you'll likely see baby pumpkins sprouting the following year! There are plenty of delicious recipes you can use them in.

Once your pumpkin is nice and clean, it's time to figure out a great compositing site for it. If you already have your own compost pile, it makes the perfect addition. If not, check your local recycling center, nearby farms, or community gardens to see if they collect old pumpkins for composting. There's even an app that can help you find a compost host near you.

3. Smash It Up

This step is probably the most fun! Once you have a spot selected, smash your pumpkin into smaller pieces if you haven't done so already. Doing so speeds up the composting process. While the pumpkin flesh typically breaks down quickly, the rind will take longer; being in smaller pieces will help move things along.

4. Cover with Loose Leaves

Now that your pumpkin is in pieces, it's time to cover those pieces with loose leaves. Remember: Composting requires a healthy mix of browns and greens, so feel free to throw on some older and newer leaves. But don't add too many; healthy compost needs air and sunshine to get the job done effectively.

5. Let Nature Do Its Thing

You're all done! Now it's time to let nature do the work. Gradually, your pumpkin will break down and return to the Earth. You may even notice worms and other insects using it as a delicious snack.

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