Halloween is right around the corner, and people are getting ready to celebrate with candy, costumes, and—of course—pumpkins. Whether it’s using them in your favorite pumpkin recipes or making a spooky jack-o’-lantern, they’re 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 U.S. each year, the vast majority wind up in landfills. 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 that’s more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to global warming potential.
That’s why reusing your leftover pumpkins is a much more planet-friendly option than tossing them in the trash. Here are some fun ideas to help you get started!
5 Ways to Reuse Pumpkins After Halloween
1. Make Recipes with the Pumpkin Flesh
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). There’s truly a pumpkin recipe for every meal!
Make a purée to use in pasta dishes and desserts, and boil the stringy guts in water to make a flavorful stock base for soup. If you have smaller pumpkins, you can cut them into little bowls, season them, and roast them.
2. Make Biodegradable Growing Trays
Did you know you can use a pumpkin carcass as a growing tray? Just fill it up with some soil, plant the seeds you’d like to grow, and watch them sprout!
Once the seedlings are ready to be planted in your garden or in a pot, you can plant the entire pumpkin-carcass-seed-tray extravaganza into the soil. The pumpkin flesh will rot and give the soil much-needed nutrients!
3. Use the Seeds in Cookies, Guacamole, and More
If you’re not eating the pumpkin seeds, you’re missing out. There are so many creative ways to use them. Season and roast them, add them into granola and baked goods, or put them in your guac. Really, the (delicious) options are endless. (Grab some recipes here!)
4. Have an Autumn-Themed Spa Day
Did you know pumpkin is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants? This makes it great for your hair and skin. So why not take advantage of that with 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 pumpkin, a banana, and a bit of honey. It will be a perfect autumnal spa day after the Halloween festivities.
5. (Trick or) Treat the Wildlife in Your Garden
If you don’t plan on using your pumpkin leftovers, leave them in the garden and watch them get munched by birds, woodchucks, and deer. You can get creative with this and create a bird feeder, or just leave the pumpkin on the ground for animals to help themselves.
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