Smashing Pumpkins

How to recycle Jack-o-Lanterns

Now that Halloween is over and the trick-or-treating is all done, you probably have a jack-o’-lantern still sitting on your front porch. Seriously, what are you going to do with that pumpkin?

Well, a lot of people simply put it in the trash can, and that’s not the best place to put it.

If tossed into the trash, a rotting pumpkin will decompose like any other food waste and emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

American’s likely spent $377.23 million on pumpkins for carving into jack-o-lanterns in 2019. Across the nation, more than 650,000 tons (1.3 billion pounds) of pumpkin flesh could be headed to landfills because many consumers will carve the pumpkin but not consume it.

So, what’s a possible solution? Well, how about composting old pumpkins?

If you have a green waste curbside collection bin, chances are you can put your pumpkin in there where it will be taken to a compost or anaerobic digestion facility and turned into biofuel. If you would like to compost the pumpkin in your own compost pile, you can find a compost recipe and tips on our website. But here’s the basic gist of how to get it done.

  • Remove candles, artificial lighting, or any other decorations that are in or attached to the pumpkin. Pumpkins that have been decorated with paint or glitter should not be composted.
    • Remove the seeds so you don’t risk starting a pumpkin patch in your compost pile. (It’s OK if you do—just turn those pumpkins back into more compost.)
    • A clean pumpkin can be added to an existing compost pile and mixed in with other ingredients.
    • Another bonus to composting pumpkins—you can smash the orange head into smithereens and compost all of the tiny pieces. (Such a good way to let out your aggression after someone egged your house. Darn kids!)

    — Syd Fong
    Posted on Nov 4, 2019

    Summary: Americans will likely spend $377 million on jack-o-lanterns this year. When Halloween is over, let Mother Nature recycle those rotting pumpkins into compost.