Carving jack-o-lanterns comes from age old Irish tradition and lore, including that of Stingy Jack. Since the practice came to the United States, we have been carving pumpkins around Halloween with 151.95 million Americans planning to carve a pumpkin as part of their Halloween celebrations in 2021, according to Emma Bedford on Statista. Allan Givens and Catherine Choi share that, "the cost of a pumpkin is up, with prices higher than the last several years. In 2020, the cost of the average pumpkin is $4.18, up from $4.04 in 2019 — a 3.63% increase. This increase in the cost of a pumpkin, coupled with the rising number of Americans planning to carve out some time in their schedules for Jack[-o-lantern], means that Americans are projected to be spending approximately $687 million on pumpkins in 2020."
With consumption and demand rising, how can we be environmentally mindful? Here are 8 ways to be Eco Friendly when disposing of your pumpkins!
1. Compost It!
If your pumpkin is starting to decompose, composting it is a great option that allows all the nutrients right back into the soil. Cut it up into smaller pieces to speed up the rate in which it will decompose! Be sure to remove any non-organic materials that may have been inside the pumpkin before composting (candle wax, paint, etc).
Make sure to also remove seeds or you may have your own pumpkin patch the following year!
2. Give your neighborhood wildlife a treat
There are many critters who will love getting in on this fall treat! You can dry out pumpkin seeds to add to bird feed or add pumpkin to chicken feed if you have them. Pumpkin can be cut up into small pieces and left out for wildlife as well, but make sure to put it a safe distance away from your home to encounter wild animals safely.
One note to make is that some local farms and zoos also accept pumpkin donations to feed to their animals, which is a great way to give back!
3. DIY your own spa treatments
Have you ever tried a pumpkin-infused face mask? You are missing out! Pumpkin is high in vitamins A and C and antioxidants which is amazing to consume but also does wonders for your skin. You can blend pumpkin and coconut oil together to make a simple hair mask or try a face mask or scrub!
4. Add pumpkin twists to your recipes!
One of the most sustainable things you can do is to eat as much of the pumpkins you purchase as you can! Make pumpkin purees, soups, vegetable roasts with pumpkin, curries, pies, mac n cheeses and more! Want some inspo on where to start? Check out these recipes by Minimalist Baker.
5. Bury It!
Take it all right back to the Earth! Burying your carved and used pumpkins will eventually bring all those added nutrients back to the soil, but it may take some time. Cut it up and let it do its natural process and is an easy alternative to composting if you don't have that option.
6. Make a seasonal planter
Have you ever thought of making a planter out of your pumpkins? Just cut the top off, remove all the seeds and add a hole in the bottom for drainage. Fill your seasonal planter with soil and your favorite seasonal plants for a festive, natural piece!
7. Add them to your yard debris cart
If your city or county offers a yard debris cart, look into if pumpkins are permitted to be disposed of in this way! Yard debris carts allow manufacturers to use the materials you collect to create compost, a valuable addition to soil that helps plants grow.
8. Roast the seeds!
An easy, tasty way to consume even more of your pumpkins! You can make them sweet, spicy or savory. Here are a few recipes by Wholefully to get you started!