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The candy has been eaten. The costumes have been shoved to the back of the closet. Halloween is over and all eyes are on Thanksgiving or even Christmas or Hanukkah. But the age-old question remains: What should you do with rotting or rotten pumpkins after Halloween?

Perhaps you’re part of the club who loves watching those carved orange pumpkin faces turn in on themselves every year. Their collapsing mugs mark a passage of time and remind you how fleeting each season really is. But once the entertainment value has worn off, figuring out what to do with a rotting pumpkin is important. 

Once upon a time, you may have just thrown them in the trash. The train of thought makes sense. After all, aren’t rotting pumpkins just organic material? What’s the harm? Unfortunately, the impact of tossing rotting pumpkins in the garbage is greater than you might think.

Why is it bad to throw away rotting pumpkins?

So, why is throwing away rotten pumpkins a bad move? Well, the answer is fairly simple. The pumpkin, which was doing a fine job rotting away into nothing on your front stoop, will go from the trash to the landfill. 

Once in the landfill, all the oxygen that was assisting it in the rotting process in your hope will no longer be available. Every year, millions of pumpkins are covered by manmade garbage such as plastics and sit there. Trapped in this way, the decomposition process creates harmful methane gasses that are terrible for our environment.

So, if you shouldn’t throw your pumpkins in the trash, what should you do with rotting pumpkins?

Here are a few great, eco-friendly options. 

Compost Your Pumpkins

The first, and by far the best option, is to compost your Halloween pumpkins this year. When your Jack-o-Latern’s smile is starting to turn into more of a grimace, then it’s time to hit the compost pile. 

Many municipalities allow homeowners to maintain their own compost piles. This is great not only for disposing of organic materials such as pumpkins, but for other yard waste and food scraps as well. In turn, you will be rewarded with rich organic matter to help your garden beds thrive in spring and summer.

If you can’t maintain a private compost pile, then it’s very likely that your city or town has a public composting facility. Look up your nearest public composting resource, and bring your pumpkins in. 

Don’t want to make an extra trip? Try asking your neighbors. Apps like Nextdoor have made it easier than ever to reach out to those in your community who may have space for your rotten pumpkins in their compost pile. Ask to drop off, or see if they’ll pick them up.

Donate Your Pumpkins

To avoid rotten pumpkins all together, consider going the route of donation. For fresh or uncarved pumpkins that have not yet started to break down, many local zoos or wildlife rehab centers may accept fresh pumpkin donations as a tasty treat for their furry wards.

For the best success rates, research who is accepting donations before you purchase your pumpkins. Once they begin to break down, they are no longer useful and can be toxic when consumed. Knowing where to bring your pumpkins before they rot is key to having them accepted and used.

Eat Them Yourself!

Another way to avoid the hassle of rotting pumpkins is simply to eat them yourself. Nothing screams fall like roasted pumpkins or toasted pumpkin seeds. Make a soup, cube and throw in your next curry, or sprinkle the seeds on fall salads. There are countless recipes online that will turn your decorative orange pumpkins into your next delicious meal. 

Plant Rotting Pumpkins

Finally, turn your rotting pumpkin into a true fall harvest experience by planting it. Burying a rotting pumpkin in your garden is essentially planting pumpkin seeds. Cover your pumpkin with a shallow layer of quality soil, water, and wait. If you’re lucky, you may not have to go very far for next year’s Jack-O-Lantern! 


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