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While pondering “Trick or treat?” this Halloween, millions of Americans will face another dilemma: what to do with that rotting jack-o’-lantern by the door?
Many Americans will carve a pumpkin to celebrate Halloween this year, but on Nov. 1, Jack’s destiny may be trashed. Pumpkins tossed in the garbage will join the million of tons of yard trimmings and food waste that Americans throw out annually – the largest component of household trash.
An environmentally friendly alternative to disposing of these ghoulish gourds is composting, a sustainable practice that reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
“Food waste deposited in landfills, including discarded Halloween pumpkins, produces methane which, if not managed properly, can contribute to greenhouse gases,” said Anne Germain, director of waste and recycling technology for the National Waste & Recycling Association. “Composting a pumpkin using a few simple tricks can help produce treats for the environment!”
Pumpkin Composting Tricks
- Remove artificial items that cannot compost (e.g. candles or foil) and seeds, which may grow into unwanted new pumpkins!
- If you don’t have a compost pile, find a shady spot in your garden for your hollowed-out pumpkins.
- Smash pumpkins into smaller pieces! This increases their surface area and helps them turn to compost faster.
- Loosely cover the pumpkins with compostable materials like leaves or wood chips. This protects the pumpkins from pests and helps them break down into usable compost.
- Let Mother Nature take over! In weeks, your pumpkins will transform into nutrient-rich compost. Spread it around plants in your garden for a special treat during the winter months.