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A compost quickie on what to do with your Halloween pumpkins
No surprises here (it involves compost), just some fun and pumpkins
I doubt this will come as a surprise to anybody, but October is my favorite month and Halloween is my favorite holiday. It’s the only time of year when all the things I love (rot, decay, garbage) emerge in the public consciousness as respectable areas of fixation. And every year, one of my favorite activities—after, you know, costumes and scary movies and passing out candy and eating some of the candy—is to smash up and then compost all my Halloween pumpkins. Last year, I did this by throwing a 20-pound gourd off the roof of my garage to an audience of approximately 45 drunk people. (Nobody got hurt.)
Yes, you can (and should) compost your Halloween pumpkins.
And I wouldn’t be doing my job here if I didn’t tell you that it was quite worth the effort to compost yours. Not just for fun, but for the sake of the planet. In America, nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkin are grown every year. 1.3 billion of those pounds end up in the landfill, primarily thanks to Halloween. In the U.K., just last year, a similar study found that 8 of the 10 million pumpkins grown in the area were tossed in the garbage post-holiday. That’s a wild amount of food waste.
There are a couple of ways to avoid this.
Compost your pumpkin’s insides!
If you’re not going to cook and eat the insides of your Jack O’ Lantern— compost them, seeds and all. Squash seeds are one of the more impressively hearty varieties, and composting your pumpkin innards will likely net you some healthy squash sprouts in your pile. You can transfer these to your garden and grow your own pumpkins for next year.
Definitely compost your pumpkin’s outside.
When you’re done with Halloween, clean your pumpkins of any candle wax or non-biodegradable accessories and then smash them up! You can use a hammer or your hands or simply throw the thing down on the ground. Have some fun. Then, transfer those pieces to your compost. Don’t worry if your pumpkin is already starting to rot or has visible mold. That’s good for your compost. Cover your pumpkin pieces in whatever leaves, twigs, or woodchips you have around—it’s fall, so you’re likely to have more than usual—and let time do its thing. If you compost with worms, they’ll love a little pumpkin treat. Mix the broken pieces into their bins.
Bring your pumpkin to a community garden or compost project.
Many local compost nonprofits and gardens will host annual pumpkin drives in order to collect all the valuable leftover pumpkins from their neighbors’ Halloween decor. That good flesh shouldn’t go to waste! Google your local compost nonprofit and see if they’re doing something. If you live on the east side of Los Angeles, the garden I work at will be holding its own Halloween Pumpkin Drive. Send me a note and I’ll let you know where you can drop off with me. :)
Don’t buy Halloween pumpkins at all—buy reusable decorations, instead!
I know, I know. It doesn’t sound as fun, but buying reusable ceramic pumpkins will prevent you from wasting anything at all—and you can still put a nice little candle inside. My Mom had these when I was a kid and I turned out okay.
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