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How To Compost Your Pumpkins After Halloween

by on November 8, 2022
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As soon as November 1st graces us with her presence, there’s this universal scramble to transition from Fall to Winter (Mariah Carey vibes). But in doing so, it’s key to think about where your Fall and Halloween decor is going after you dispose of it.

You can’t help but want your front porch to look cozy and cute during Fall (I do too!). And the season really doesn’t feel complete without an array of pumpkins on the front steps. But….there’s nothing “cozy and cute” about destroying our planet. Truth.

Here is how you can recycle and compost your pumpkins, squash and gourds sustainably this season. Plus, why it is so key to do so.

This post covers:

The Environmental Impact of Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween pumpkins are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Primarily because the majority of people do not sustainably disposed of them after the holiday ends and the majority of pumpkins end up in the landfill.

This is the same story for most other Halloween decor, like straw bales, leaves, squash and gourds, which can and should all be composted or reused.

When pumpkins get dumped in the landfill, they end up getting packed tightly between other piles of trash. This causes them to decompose without having any oxygen, resulting in these rotting pumpkins releasing methane gas.

Surprisingly, methane gas that is emitted into the air can be up to 20x more toxic (!!!!) then carbon dioxide (CO2).

According to the U.S. Department of Energy  1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up as waste in American landfills.

And while there’s no recorded statistics for pumpkin waste in Canada, we do know that 92% of pumpkin sold in Canada are used for decor, not consumption.

Once pumpkins and other Fall decor are thrown away, they contribute to the estimated 31 million tonnes of garbage Canada produces annually.

In fact, a 2019 study by Statistica reported that the country that is the biggest producer of waste worldwide by capita is Canada.

That fact alone should be enough to make you think twice about mindlessly throwing away your pumpkins!

So all in all, pumpkins are only bad for our environment if you toss them in the garbage at the end of the season where they rot away and eventually turn into the toxic greenhouse gas, methane.

How-To Properly Compost Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds After Halloween

Squash, pumpkins and gourds all belong to the curcurbits plant family, which includes 900 different varieties of plants. Plants like zucchinis, melons and cucumbers all fall into this plant family as well.

The smaller the cucurbit, the quicker it will decompose and break down in your compost pile. But for curcurbits like what we’re talking about today (pumpkins, squash and gourds!), it’s best to follow these steps.

First, break apart your pumpkin into small pieces.

For large pumpkins, this is especially important as they will take a long time to decompose otherwise.

The insides and seeds are completely compostable as well, so if you’re not roasting and eating the seeds be sure to compost them.

Next, spread apart your pumpkin pieces throughout your compost.

This is important to ensure there’s enough oxygen between the fruit and the other organic matter in your compost.

Finally, using a pitchfork or shovel, bury your pieces of pumpkin beneath leaves, dirt and the other items in your compost.

Doing so helps everything break down faster, resulting in rich, nutritious soil for your garden sooner.

Now it’s time to let Mother Nature do her work!

If you’re living in a cold climate, it will likely take until early Summer for your pumpkins to have broken down completely and for your compost to be ready to add to your garden.

5 Other Ways to Recycle & Reuse Pumpkins After Halloween

1. Transform your pumpkins into a delicious meal.

Soups, stews, curries, breakfast oats, lattes, pies, or even treats for your pets…..there’s hundreds of incredible pumpkin recipes to choose from. You can find dozens of great ideas here in this post.

2. Leave your pumpkins outside in a park or public area for wildlife to enjoy.

Deer, raccoons and squirrels also love pumpkins and food scraps. Break your pumpkin into smaller pieces and scatter it throughout the bush for them to enjoy. Be sure to first check your local by-laws to ensure your following regulations by doing this.

This is an especially great option if you live outside of the city. For us, we leave our pumpkins scattered in the back field of our property and watch the deer and birds enjoy!

3. Bring your pumpkins to a local farm for the animals to eat.

Chickens, pigs, and cows all love pumpkins. Be sure to connect with the farmer ahead of time to ensure they’re comfortable accepting donations from the public.

We always bring our pumpkins to my sister-in-laws rescue farm. It helps her save some money on feed and the animals love the treat.

4. Save the seeds to replant next season.

Saving pumpkin seeds is really easy!

Simply remove the seeds from the flesh and rinse under water. Place the cleaned seeds on a piece of paper towel to air dry for up to 48 hours or until they are dry to the touch. Turn them over every 12 hours or so to ensure they don’t begin to mold.

Once completely dry, choose the biggest seeds and transfer to an envelope or sealed plastic bag. Keep them away from direct sunlight in a room temperature area. Then plant them in your garden come Spring!

5. Turn your pumpkin into a DIY skincare or home product.

Sounds a little crazy, but you can find tons of creative ideas online that will walk you through how exactly to go about this.

From face masks (pumpkins are high in Vitamin C & E – great for skin!), to hair masks or room fresheners. The options are endless.

And there you have it!

All this to say, please dispose of your pumpkins sustainably this Fall season!

Whether you choose to compost them or take a different approach, be sure the final result isn’t sending them to the landfill.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions, I answer all comments! Or share your own experience with straw mulch. There’s so many creative ways to use it in the garden.

You can follow @fromsoiltosoul on Instagram, Tik Tok and Pinterest for more organic gardening content too.

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