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.
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
605 Charlie Wiggins RD, Plant City, FL 33567
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!