What to know the scariest thing about pumpkins?
The amount of waste they create everything single year.
Did you know that 82,619 metric tonnes of pumpkins are grown in Canada for Halloween (stat from 2018)? And that a scary amount of them end up in the landfill?
The silly thing is...pumpkins are food and therefore completely compostable, and yet so many people dump them into the trash.
Here is a list of ideas you can use to turn your orange Jack-o-lanterns green:
Buy your pumpkin locally
Support your local farmers and reduce the transportation footprint of shipping pumpkins from across the country (or even from out of country). Try finding them at local fall festivals and farmers markets, or make sure to check the origin on the signs at the grocery stores. If in doubt - ask. Make a point to let your grocery store know that shopping locally matters to you as their customer.
Don't bleach your pumpkin
The idea of preserving your pumpkin using bleach circles the internet every year. The goal is to resist mold and deter squirrels, deer, raccoons, mice, chipmunks, etc. from eating them before Halloween night. The suggestion has been widely criticized that doing so will harm wildlife, but according to Snopes, this isn't true. Bleach breaks down into salt.
But even if it's safe, that doesn't mean you should do it. Spoiler alert - we're going to suggest that you eat your pumpkin, so let's just skip the bleach altogether, okay?
To preserve your pumpkin for the big night, wait as long as possible before carving it, then simply keep your pumpkin inside or somewhere protected outside.
Don't paint your pumpkin with toxic paints or add non-biodegradable materials like sparkles
Painting a pumpkin instead of carving it can look amazing if you've got the skillz - but be eco friendly and stick to natural paints. And glitter never decomposes.
The pumpkins grown to appease the Halloween season are edible, though maybe not as tasty as their smaller pumpkin brethren. The internet is chock full of recipes you can use to make your pumpkin both a spooky decoration as well as a healthy vegetable. Pumpkins, after all, are high in potassium, vitamins A and C, and fibre.
Here are a few recipes as suggestions on how to cook your left over pumpkin. Leave us a comment if you have any other favourite recipes:
For the love of all that's Holy - don't throw your pumpkin in the trash!
Here's the thing. Food waste that goes into the landfill are deprived from sunlight and oxygen, which is required in order for them to decompose into healthy soil. Instead, food waste ends up sort of mummifying and emits significant methane emissions instead - which is 20x's worse than carbon dioxide.
"According to the US Department of Energy, pumpkins that end up in landfill will decompose and eventually emit methane – a greenhouse gas with more than 20x's the warming effect of carbon dioxide." (link)
If you're not going to eat your pumpkin, there are several other things you can do with your pumpkin that actually benefits the environment:
- Add it to your backyard compost pile
- Add it to your community green bin
- Donate it to farms or animal sanctuaries
- Chop it up into pieces and leave it out for wildlife to enjoy
Pumpkins are a symbol of halloween, but they're also food and first world countries have a massive issue with food waste.
We need to retrain our thinking about pumpkins as a mere disposable decoration and consider their overall environmental impact and benefit. They're fun, they're healthy, they're compostable, and they're definitely NOT garbage.