Autumn is upon us, which means that the annual pumpkin craze is kicking off in full force. Consumers are bombarded with pumpkin-flavored desserts, coffee, scented candles, and so much more. It’s clear that pumpkins are the talk of the season and if you’re not eating, drinking, or smelling them, then you’re probably carving some up for a festive Halloween decoration.
In fact, the U.S. is one of the highest producers of pumpkins in the world, with an average of 2 billion pumpkins grown annually. That would be a whole lot of pumpkin pie, except only about 20 percent of those pumpkins are used for food, leaving nearly 1.6 billion of them to become a carved décor option and then discarded. Most of those end up in a landfill, where the natural composting process is depleted due to a lack of oxygen.
Here at the SMSC Organics Recycling Facility, we are determined to save as many of those local gourds from the garbage and give them a second life as natural compost. This is why every year since 2019, during the first two weeks in November, we have hosted an annual pumpkin drop-off program for many to come and dispose of their used squashes and jack-o-lanterns, free of charge. Since beginning this program, we have been able to compost nearly 55,000 pounds of pumpkins.
Of course, we don’t plan to stop there! This is why we encourage all to choose sustainable and compostable options this Halloween and beyond. When planning your autumn decorations, prepare to use as much of the squash as possible. You can find a variety of recipes for baked pumpkin seeds online and much of the innards can be used for baking. A variety of animals also enjoy pumpkins, including rabbits, deer, squirrels, raccoons, and more. If you choose to feed the animals, make sure the pumpkin is free of toxic paints, not rotten, and in an area where wildlife traffic is safe. Reuse the decorations you can, incorporate as much of your decorative squashes into a meal, and compost whatever is left.
Help us make pumpkin season as sustainable as possible. Keep an eye on the website and social media for the start of the pumpkin drop-off program in November and let us turn your décor into natural STA-certified compost!