Pumpkin Disposal Carbinara pasta recipe on a chalkboard with pumpkins displayed around it

How to Dispose of Halloween Pumpkins – Creative Ideas, Donations, and more!

Did you know that every year nearly 1 million tons of pumpkins end up in landfills? Instead of becoming food or compost, it creates methane gas, contributing to climate change. We all want to do better for the environment.

Now, as the official guidelines from the City of Orlando tell us we can throw pumpkins away (or put them in backyard compost, more on that later), we can do more to help the planet when it comes to our pumpkins. From donating to smashing, or cooking up a delicious fall feast, there are plenty of other options to consider before you toss that Halloween or Thanksgiving pumpkin.

After so many amazing fall events and trick-or-treating in Orlando, it’s time to dispose of our pumpkins in a helpful way. Let’s dive in!

a toddler girl walking through pumpkin patch
Orlando Pumpkin Patch image by Maria DiCicco

Dispose of Your Halloween Pumpkins

Donate to Farms and Zoos

Farms love taking in old pumpkins as it makes for great feed for the petting zoo and farm animals. “Pumpkins for Pigs” is a nationwide organization encouraging people to donate their uncarved and unpainted pumpkins to a location nearest to them.

For us in Orlando, that location is in Plant City.

Here’s the information provided by their website:

Hopewell Heritage Farm – Plant City, FL
Tracy Crist
605 Charlie Wiggins RD, Plant City, FL 33567
Phone: 813-763-0002
Accepted: Pumpkins (Including Carved), Gourds, Acorns, Hay, Straw, Fruits, Vegetables
Drop Off Instructions: Please call ahead.
Willing to Pick Up: Yes

It’s also interesting to note that elephants and big cats tend to love pumpkins too! We are fortunate enough to have several zoos in the local area like the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford and the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne. Pumpkins are fun play things for elephants; have you ever seen them stomping on them? It’s great fun to smash pumpkins, and they know it!

Pumpkin Smash Events

Smashing Pumpkins isn’t just a great band, it’s a fun and stress-busting way to create chaos (and a big mess) with your community. Look for hosted pumpkin smashing events or organize one yourself! 

Amber Brooke Farms has held pumpkin destruction days in years past, so keep an eye out for their pumpkin drop and mallet smashing events typically held the first Saturday in November.

Amber Brooke Farms Pumpkin Patch Orlando for Family Photos - by Dani Meyering
Amber Brooke Farms Pumpkin Patch Orlando for Family Photos by Dani Meyering

Check out SCARCE in Illinois as a guide to starting your own pumpkin smash event. On their website you can find fliers, posters, and guides on how to put together a fun afternoon of destroying pumpkins!

Cook Them

The simplest thing you can do with your pumpkins is to cut them open and dig out the goodness inside. From roasted pumpkin seeds in every flavor imaginable (we like to make several batches of different spice flavors from our cupboard) to pumpkin carbonara, soups, sauces, and more, those pumpkin innards make for some seriously delicious treats. 

Try roasting pumpkin seeds and bag them in snack-sized baggies for on-the-go snacking all season long. I love to make these for my kid’s lunch, or for long shopping days in my purse!

Pumpkin Seeds on Baking Sheet
Pumpkin Seeds on Baking Sheet image by Maria DiCicco

Once you’ve used up what you can from the insides, go ahead and toss in the pail or follow the other ideas listed here.

Compost Them

The City of Orlando officially recommends to either compost your pumpkins, or to throw them away. If you are like me and know little to nothing about how to compost, never fear! The city is giving away FREE home composters as part of their green initiatives, so sign up to receive one and get cracking at it!

Donate to Food Pantries

Many areas appreciate a good whole pumpkin. If you don’t want to be the one to cook it up, consider donating to a local food pantry that will put your pumpkin to good use.

Tell Someone You Have Free Pumpkins

It is also worth considering putting up on a local Facebook group like a Buy Nothing group or a swap group. Sometimes I can’t fathom the things people desire on these sites, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Maybe they’ve got their own farm full of pigs, or have a crafting event in mind. Perhaps they’re doing a pumpkin chili cookoff.

Pumpkin on display on top of a vintage oven
Pumpkin on display image by Maria DiCicco

Who knows, but if you have lots of pumpkins to give away, try your swap group first!

Feed Your Backyard Friends

I am not entirely sure I would suggest this in a dense neighborhood environment, because I live in College Park and we all know that we have bears, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, possums, and so on lurking around in the dark. BUT as I understand, if you are responsible about this method you can chop your pumpkin into little birdy bits and put them in your bird feeder.

Whether you decide to give your pumpkin a proper burial or send it to the landfill, think about the multiple options you have for disposal each pumpkin harvest season. The kids will have fun baking, smashing, or taking part in whatever of these methods your family chooses is right for you and they’ll be doing something great for the planet. I call that a win!

author avatar
Maria DiCicco
Globetrotting since 1995, Maria is a daughter, girl-mom and wife to a Spaniard. She is a karaoke wunderkind, natural born storyteller and creative writer. She’s a wine and gin enthusiast and charcuterie builder extraordinaire. Seeking to inspire others to “Travel More”, she shares travel advice, destination spotlights and more at her site AlwaysPackTissues.com.