Don't trash them: How to properly dispose of your pumpkins after Halloween

Marry Evens

Disclaimer: The following data and information has been gathered by researching the current scenarios. It is only used for educational and recreational purposes.

Methane gas from pumpkins in landfills fuels climate change. Pumpkin carving is one of the Halloween season's most enjoyable customs in my opinion.

I always anticipate the evening in October when my family gathers at the house where we grew up to carve pumpkins using stencils that my mother has kept for decades. Then, on another night, I gather a small group of friends and repeat the process.
Halloween(Getty Image)

... And once more with my partner on a separate night.

All of this is to imply that I enjoy carving pumpkins and will continue to do so indefinitely. However, there is a drawback that, I'll admit, I didn't really think about until I was older.

It turns out that we aren't supposed to throw away our jack-o-lanterns after Halloween, even when they are shriveled and deflated. When pumpkins are thrown in a landfill, they can't naturally decompose into the soil and instead release methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change.

Methane gas is the "main contributor to the creation of ground-level ozone, a dangerous air pollutant, and greenhouse gas, which exposure to results in 1 million premature deaths annually," according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Another potent greenhouse gas is methane. It is 80 times more effective at warming over a 20-year period than carbon dioxide.

Each year, the United States produces more than 2.1 billion pounds (990,000 tons) of pumpkins. After Halloween and Thanksgiving, an estimated 1 billion pounds of pumpkins are dumped in landfills annually. So, if we can't throw away the leftover pumpkins that are disintegrating on our front porches, what are we expected to do with them exactly?

Since they've already started eating my uncarved pumpkins, I'll probably just leave them for the squirrels and chipmunks, but there are a few things you can do, according to experts, to lessen pumpkin methane emissions.

Home Composting

Experts agree that the easiest approach to get rid of pumpkins is to let them gradually degrade in the soil. The easiest way to accomplish this is through the composting process, which entails combining various kinds of decomposing organic matter to produce nutrient-rich soil.

This dirt, often known as "black gold," is utilized as fertilizer for gardens, lawns, and other similar areas. Although there are composting facilities all around Michigan, many neighborhoods also permit at-home composting.

Simple gardening tools, a compost "basket" that can be manufactured of inexpensive materials, and some green and brown trash are all that are needed for composting. Composting at home can be done in two different ways: quickly (4 weeks to a year) or slowly (1 year-18 months).

Grass clippings, leaves, weeds, coffee grounds, some food waste, and more can all be composted. Composting shouldn't be done with things like animal or human waste, meat, or dairy products. When the compost is ready to be harvested, you can use it as mulch or amend the soil in your garden.

Collecting Yard Waste

Leftover pumpkins may be given to yard garbage collectors in communities where yard rubbish is collected. Find out whether your neighborhood picks up yard garbage from your home's curb or requires you to drop it off at a facility.

It's a good idea to get in touch with your city or municipality to find out what regulations apply to the disposal of yard debris. Fruit and vegetables cannot be mixed with yard garbage in some localities, such as the city of Dearborn.

However, the city of Ann Arbor permits people to discard food waste (among other items) in their compost bin, which is picked up once per week during specific months. A licensed compost facility frequently receives the yard trash that a city collects and converts it into fertilizer that is then sold.

For You And Your Pets, Leftovers

You can utilize and prepare the seeds or the real fruit of the pumpkin if it hasn't started to spoil. The seeds are still in fantastic condition, and I want to eat them right away, so I recommend picking them out at the beginning of the pumpkin carving process, washing them, and baking them that evening.

The good news is that cats and dogs also enjoy pumpkins if you don't want to eat the pumpkin yourself. Feel free to give your pets some pumpkins since they are both safe to consume. However, bear in mind that cats should only be fed cooked or canned pumpkin because raw pumpkin is difficult for them to digest. For the animals, pumpkin is a fantastic source of fiber as well, but be careful not to overdo it.

Animals can safely consume pumpkins as long as they aren't painted or covered with harmful substances intended to "preserve" the life of your carved jack-o'-lantern. If you let it, the local creatures will probably jump straight in.

Be advised that according to experts, you shouldn't try to feed wildlife by scattering your pumpkins in a spot where they can find them in the wild. Wild animals that are fed can become used to humans and become violent, become too numerous near highways where they can collide with cars, and pose a threat to public health. In some locations, it is also prohibited to discard food or food waste in a park or nature reserve.

However, if you simply want to leave a rotting pumpkin out in your backyard for the neighborhood squirrels to nibble on before throwing it away, that should be fine and will help lower the methane emissions from that pumpkin.

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I'm a writer, passionate about inherent talent and inventiveness. I began writing textbooks as a vocation before moving on to producing internet material. I've written more than 50 books, and I'm working on several more.


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