Don’t Throw Away Your Pumpkins — 6 Ways To Dispose Of Them
After Halloween and throughout November, I see many pumpkins beside the curb. Instead of throwing them away, this blog post goes over how to properly dispose of pumpkins when you no longer want them. Until last year, my pumpkins were one of the many sitting out by the curb or in the trash can. However, this all changed when my neighbors shared with me that pumpkins should be disposed of another way. They knew I was on a sustainability journey and thought I would appreciate this knowledge—which I of course had. I wish we would have learned these sooner or in school because I know my mom and I would have made it a part of our fall/post-Halloween routine as I was growing up. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to start a new tradition or adapt our behaviors to care for the planet and its species. Enjoy this blog post for alternative options to throwing your pumpkins away.
Here’s How To Properly Dispose Of Pumpkins
1. Leave The Pumpkin For The Animals
Take the leftover pumpkins—that were not painted or have other craft supplies added—and cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces. If you don’t want to attract squirrels or other local wildlife to your porch or garden, leave the pumpkin pieces in another area of your yard/property. The local wildlife will munch away the remainder of the pumpkin.
2. Donate The Pumpkin To The Local Zoo
Some zoos accept pumpkin donations and feed the pumpkins to the animals or let the bigger ones play with them. Some participating zoos offer free admission to people bringing a pumpkin donation. This of course will vary depending on what your local zoo’s pumpkin policy is and if they accept pumpkins that are painted. It’s always best to call the zoo to ask if they are accepting pumpkin donations before you pack the car up with pumpkins or commute with pumpkins all the way there.
3. Smash Pumpkins At The Local Forest Preserve
My local zoo is not participating in the pumpkin donations this year, but they are asking people to bring their unpainted pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns to the forest preserves and smash them open. Smashing them open allows for various wildlife at the forest preserve to actually access the pumpkin and all the goodness that is inside. Remember: it’s best to bring pumpkins without paint or added decorations because, like it is for humans, paint and other craft supplies are toxic for animals to eat.
4. Compost The Pumpkins
Composting is a great way to responsibly get rid of leftover pumpkins because every single part of a pumpkin is compostable! If you decorated the pumpkin, read this article for information on how to clean and prepare your pumpkin for composting.
Outdoor Home Composting
Depending on if your home composting setup is indoor or outdoor, will determine how to compost your leftover pumpkins. If you have a garden/outdoor bin and composting area after you prepare your pumpkin for composting, go ahead and chop the pumpkin into smaller pieces—you could also smash it—and then place leaves over the top in your composting section. This is my first year learning about composting and the ways to properly dispose of a pumpkin, so I can’t share firsthand experience —but I did read that it will take about 8-12 weeks for a pumpkin to compost. Here’s an article with more detail on how to compost pumpkins at home.
Indoor Home Composting
If you live in an apartment or choose not to have an outdoor composting setup, you can still compost your pumpkin! If you don’t already, consider purchasing a food scrap container or a small (worm-free) composting bin. Once you have a container to collect the food waste, your local waste management system may have the capability of collecting that every week if you call and request it. Alternatively, many allow you to stop by to empty the bins. The local community garden centers may offer this as well—same with local farms.
The park district, city, or town may host a free “pumpkin smashing” event the day after Halloween or soon after. It’s best to google or call those places to see if this will occur and learn any guidelines so you can stop by and compost your pumpkins!
5. Reuse The Indoor Pumpkins
If you purchased pumpkins that were a part of your indoor decor, too, then save those pumpkins and reuse them. Below are a few ways you could do that.
Cooking & Baking
There are many recipes that outline how to take pumpkins and cook or bake with them. Depending on what type of dish you’re looking to make, you could reuse the pumpkins to prepare pumpkin bread or muffins, creamy soup, chili, pasta, and so much more.
There are at-home face masks, lotions, soaps, and more that teach you how to take a pumpkin and make it into something more. Do a quick search to see what you could do with your pumpkins on a cozy night in. You could even make care packages if you have a ton of pumpkins and drop the DIY beauty items off at loved ones’ houses.
Similar to the baking and cooking recipe, there are many bake and no-bake pet treats that use pumpkin. Search for recipes based on what type of pet you have and enjoy making your furry friend a delicious treat!
6. Plant The Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re a gardener or have always wanted to grow your own pumpkins, save the seeds from the pumpkins you have and plant them! This article gives gardening tips and outlines how to do that if you are curious about it or have never done so before.