Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Jack-o’-lanterns are a Halloween tradition that goes way back. But once trick-or-treating and spooky celebrations come to an end, it always begs the question of what to do with the pumpkins afterwards?
Canadians purchase over 10 million fresh pumpkins every year with most of them ending up in landfills and contributing to the growing issue of food waste. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure that your jack-o’-lantern can be disposed responsibly from start to finish.
Don’t throw away your pulp and seeds—turn them into tasty treats instead!
Pumpkin food waste can be avoided right from the get-go. Once you start carving your jack-o’-lanterns, rather than tossing away the pumpkins’ insides, save them for a recipe. Pumpkin soup is one way to use the leftover pulp. Or if you have a sweet tooth, try baking a pumpkin pie or this pumpkin scone recipe which was featured in our Ag Bites Cooking Class! As for the pumpkin seeds, be sure to roast them for a tasty treat.
Jack-o’-lanterns to jack-o’-planters
Reusing your jack-o’-lantern as a planter is a great way to get the most out of your pumpkin—the best part is that you’re already halfway there. Since it’s already hollowed out, all you need to do is remove the candle, fill it with potting soil, and plant whatever you’d like! When the pumpkin planter starts to degrade, simply place it into a larger planting pot. As the pumpkin starts to rot, it becomes a natural fertilizer for the new plant.
Donate your pumpkin to a local farm
Some livestock farms welcome pumpkin donations to feed their animals. Farmers are always looking for sustainable ways to feed their animals, and pumpkins are a great source of nutrients. If there are local farms around you, check to see if they accept pumpkin donations or if they run a dedicated pumpkin recycling program.
Compost your pumpkins
Another way to reduce your pumpkin waste is simply to compost it in your green compost bin! Before you compost your jack-o’-lantern, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. First off, when decorating your pumpkin, try to avoid using any paints. If you’ve painted your pumpkin, you unfortunately have to dispose of it in your black cart. Same goes for bleached pumpkins—while it does help keep your pumpkin from rotting throughout the Halloween season, you won’t be able to compost it. Finally, make sure to remove the candle or any other decorative accessories. Once those items are checked off, your pumpkin is ready for composting.
 Earth Day — Fighting Waste, One Pumpkin at a Time  CBC — A spooky statistic: most edible pumpkins end up in the trash  Gardening Know How — Making Pumpkin Planters: How to grow a plant in a pumpkin  Earth Day — Fighting Waste, One Pumpkin at a Time  The City of Calgary — What goes where, Pumpkins and Jack O’ Lanterns