What To Do With Your Jack-O-Lantern After Halloween

Carving pumpkins to make Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween is a long-standing tradition, but from an environmental perspective, there are some concerns. For one thing, pumpkins take a lot of water and pesticides to grow. For another thing, they are often disposed of in the landfill after their time of usefulness is over, leaving them to rot and emit methane.


But, all is not lost. What if we could have some good come out of our favorite gourd?


I know lots of people who toast the pumpkin seeds to eat later. That’s a great first step in putting to good use material that would otherwise be thrown away.


As far as what to do with the pumpkin after Halloween, there are many options besides throwing it in the landfill.


1.  Compost it. In our area, we have curbside food scrap collection, so putting the pumpkin in the food scrap bin will ensure it doesn’t end up in the landfill. You can also compost the pumpkin in your back yard. If you don’t have a compost pile, you can put small pieces of it in your flower or garden beds to feed the worms and other insects that inhabit the soil.

2.  Leave it out for the wildlife. If you have woods on your property, you could put the pumpkin out for the wildlife. While I don’t advocate putting food out regularly for the wildlife, this is one exception. The best thing to do is split the pumpkin open so that the squirrels, deer, foxes, rabbits and mice can get to the flesh on the inside.
Do you have friends who have chickens? Chickens love pumpkin. Offer to supply your friend’s chickens with a tasty treat.

3. Donate it to a farm or animal sanctuary. This is becoming a more popular option in my area. There are pig farmers who accept pumpkin donations and there’s even a directory to help you find them. Check out www.pumpkinsforpigs.org. They have a directory of pig farms and animal sanctuaries that are updated every year.


Whether you are composting, leaving it out for wildlife or donating it to a farmer or animal sanctuary, it’s good to encourage your neighbors to do the same. You could offer to collect up some of the pumpkins and deliver them together to their destination.


Make sure to plan ahead. If you are planning to choose any of these options, make sure that you don’t put anything on the pumpkin that would be toxic to wildlife. Do not spray bleach or any other toxic substance in or on the pumpkin.  


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