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How to Reduce Waste and Use the Whole Pumpkin This Halloween

Posted November 23, 2020

carving pumpkin

Are you carving jack-o’-lanterns this Halloween? If you’re participating in this annual tradition, be sure to treat yourself, your compost, and the environment by finding ways to repurpose the parts of the pumpkin usually discarded. Each year, millions of pumpkins get tossed in the trash and end up in landfills across the country.

By finding ways to use the whole pumpkin, then composting your jack-o’-lanterns, you can divert some of this organic material from landfills, which will help lower methane emissions and reduce your impact on the environment.

Here are some tricks to reduce landfill waste by using every part of the pumpkin, including the seeds, flesh, and guts.

Roast the Pumpkin SeedsToasted pumpkin seeds with a fresh pumpkin on a wooden cutting board

Carving pumpkins is messy, and while it’s easy to toss the guts and seeds in a trash bag as you work, it’s worth the time to separate the pumpkin seeds from the stringy flesh to use later. Roasted pumpkin seeds make a delicious and healthy snack on their own, or you can add them to salads, muffins, trail mix, and more.

  1. Separate the seeds from the stringy pumpkin flesh.
  2. Rinse the seeds.
  3. Toss the seeds with olive oil and the seasoning of your choice. You can make them salty, spicy, or sweet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, giving the seeds a toss about halfway through.

Make Pumpkin Purée

Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber, making them a relatively inexpensive superfood. Skip the canned stuff, and roast the flesh from the cut-out portions of your jack-o’-lantern to make a homemade pumpkin purée. You can use your purée for things like pie, cookies, bread, and soup.

Bake a Loaf of Pumpkin Guts Bread

Most people probably discard the stringy pumpkin guts, not realizing that this part is perfectly edible and great for baking. This is a simple way to use parts of the pumpkin that are typically less desirable. Once you removed the seeds, turn those guts into a loaf of delicious pumpkin bread.

Compost Your Jack-o’-Lanterns

Once your jack-o’-lantern has been sitting out, there’s not much you can do with it, but that doesn’t make it trash. Instead of throwing away your expired jack-o’-lanterns, compost them instead! Be sure to smash your pumpkin up into smaller pieces to facilitate decomposition. Remove any non-organic decorations, like metal and plastic, before putting your carved pumpkin into your compost bin. Incorporating pumpkins into your compost will help produce a nutrient-dense soil amendment for your garden next spring.

For more tricks on how to treat your compost, check out our Guide to Fall Composting.