The Best Ways To Reuse Your Halloween Pumpkin

Around 900,000 tons of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. every year. Of these, a whopping 500,000 tons (approx.) are thrown away uneaten—contributing to nearly 40 million tons of annual food waste in the country. That’s more than $218 billion worth of edibles.

Many of these are leftover gourds that are tossed in the trash post-Halloween once they have served their purpose as the infamous jack-o’-lantern.

But just because Halloween is over doesn’t mean your carved pumpkin needs to go into the waste bin.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, pumpkins that end up rotting in landfills create methane gas as they decompose—”a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide.”

So reusing the leftover pumpkin after Halloween will not only help cut down food waste but also proactively contribute to tackling global warming.

Looking for some quick inspo? Here are a few creative ways to make the most of your Halloween pumpkin:

  • Make a bird feeder. Spruce up your garden or backyard by upcycling your jack-o-lantern into a cute bird feeder. Here’s an easy DIY tutorial. If you have a particularly large pumpkin, you can also hang a piece of twig inside, to serve as a perch for the feathered friends. Fill it up with plenty of good quality bird food (eg: sunflower, safflower, corn and pumpkin seeds) and place it on your porch or hang it in the garden using pieces of twine.
  • Reuse it as Thanksgiving decor. Because of the interrelated decor themes and elements like pumpkins, autumnal colors, candles and fall foliage, Halloween decorations like carved pumpkins can be easily upgraded into Thanksgiving ornaments. You can repurpose edible leftover gourd into creative and sustainable serveware as shown here. Or, decorate the living room with fall-inspired candle holders made out of pumpkins as shown in this tutorial. You can also turn it into a DIY basket to display seasonal fruit and flower arrangements.
  • Turn it into a snack for the neighborhood wildlife. From birds, badgers and squirrels to foxes, deer, raccoons and chipmunks—pumpkin is a hit with everyone. Simply chop up the carved pumpkin into small chunks and place the pieces in a large dish or tray. You can also add some shelled corn before placing it in one of their frequented spots. However, don’t feed the animals any painted or preservative wax-coated pumpkins as they can be harmful to them if ingested. Similarly, if you had lit a traditional candle inside the pumpkin, don’t give that to the animals either as the black soot released by the flame is a known carcinogen.
  • Give it away. If you’d like to keep the critters away from your garden or yard, you can donate the leftover gourd to a local community garden, zoo or farm as a compost ingredient or animal feed. Moreover, organizations like Pumpkins For The People do post-Halloween jack-o-lantern collections where you can leave the leftover carved pumpkin at one of their drop-off sites for composting. Just be sure to remove any paints, decorations, etc. and cut it into small pieces before the drop-off.
  • Plant your favorite foliage in it. Repurpose your Halloween pumpkin into a beautiful seasonal planter to display your fall foliage in style. Plant succulents, pansies, million bells, hardy chrysanthemums, ornamental grass or any other potted plant of your choice. Simply plant it in a small container and then place the gardening container inside the hollowed-out pumpkin. Alternatively, you can also plant the fall greenery directly inside the carved pumpkin after lining it with a weed barrier to keep the potting soil from falling out. Make sure you put it someplace dry and shaded as sun exposure will accelerate the decomposition process. “Keep both indoor and outdoor pumpkins in a cool, dry place to help prevent them from rotting and becoming a breeding ground for pests,” suggests pest control brand, Raid®.
  • Try composting. If you’ve got a green thumb, you can also go for composting. Worms love to feast on gourds like pumpkin, cantaloupe and squash which is why leftover Halloween pumpkins are the perfect option to toss in your composting bin. The nutrient-rich castings can help improve soil quality, boost water retention and increase plants’ yield. Make sure to remove any paint, candles, LED lights and other decorations before putting it in the bin. Those who don’t have a composting bin can dig up a hole in one of the garden beds and bury the chopped-up pieces right into it.

How would you like to repurpose a Halloween pumpkin? LMK in the comments section below!

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