Sustainable solutions for leftover pumpkins after Halloween

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Every year, Canada produces a staggering 80,000 metric tonnes of pumpkins, yet a significant portion of them end up uneaten, discarded, and left to rot. Carving pumpkins and decorative gourds can actually pose a considerable environmental challenge — so what can you do when Halloween and Pumpkin Spice Season is over? Let’s explore some responsible alternatives to disposing of pumpkins this November.

Photo credit: Unknown

First off, don’t dump in the woods! Dumping pumpkins in the woods may seem like a harmless act, even possibly beneficial for local wildlife. However, this practice is not only illegal but also ecologically damaging. We have seen this trend on social media over the last couple of years — but don’t dump your pumpkins or garden waste into the woods for wildlife! It introduces non-native species, sometimes invasive, that can outcompete native flora and fauna. You wouldn’t dump your leftover turkey in the woods, would you? No! So don’t take your jack-o’-lanterns into the woods either! Additionally, it may lead to a dangerous dependency on introduced foods among local wildlife, potentially facilitating the spread of disease or injury. 

Secondly, don’t let them rot and go to waste! Allowing pumpkins to decompose in landfills exacerbates environmental issues. Rotting organic matter in these environments produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Photo credit: Unknown

Sustainable Alternatives

Garden Composting
Instead of disposing of your pumpkin, consider burying it in your garden. This allows it to decompose naturally, enriching your soil with valuable nutrients.

Local Farm Contributions
Reach out to nearby farms to inquire if they could use your leftover pumpkins as animal feed. This not only reduces waste but also supports local agriculture.

Community Garden Composting or Family and Friends’ Compost 
Many community gardens have composting facilities, or consider asking your family members and friends if they have a compost where your pumpkin can find a second life as valuable organic matter.

Dehydrated Dog Treats
Transforming your pumpkins into dehydrated dog treats is a creative way to repurpose them. Not only does this minimize waste, but it also provides nutritious snacks for our furry friends. Don’t forget that we have dehydrators available to borrow through our Apple Capture Program — check out Tool Share here.

For those without access to the above options, there might be nearby donation drop-off points (get in touch with Kimberley Food Recovery or Cranbrook Food Recovery!). Animal sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and hobby farmers often welcome leftover pumpkins to provide sustenance for their animals.

This year, let’s adopt responsible practices for dealing with leftover pumpkins. Whether it’s repurposing them for human or animal consumption, or donating to those in need, there are numerous sustainable alternatives. By avoiding hasty and ecologically harmful solutions like forest dumping, front step decomposing, or ending up in a landfill, we can collectively contribute to a greener, more environmentally-conscious community.