How to Reduce Pumpkin Waste this Season

More than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills every year, peaking the weeks following Halloween. There are plenty of pumpkin-related activities such as pumpkin carving and exploring pumpkin-filled recipes in the kitchen, and plenty of opportunities where perfectly good pumpkin goes to waste! However, there are just as many ways we can meaningfully use every part of this wonderful squash. Here are some ways you can use all the parts of your pumpkins.

Decorating (whole pumpkin)

Pumpkin carving is a favorite past time for many people in the United States. From the traditional jack-o-lantern face, to extravagant pieces of art, try your hand at this family-friendly activity.

If art isn’t your forte but home decor is, pumpkins, squash, and gourds can be used to bring some fall flair both indoors and outside for curb appeal.

Cooking (seeds, pulp, fibrous strands)

I don’t think I have enough fingers on my hands to count the number of recipes that exist using pumpkins! You can keep it simple by roasting pumpkin seeds, indulge your sweet tooth by baking some desserts and pastries, or try your hand with savory dishes for a hearty meal. Some of my favorite foods that incorporate pumpkin include pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin soup! When we were younger, I remember some of my family members always enjoyed roasted pumpkin seeds as a snack.

Skincare (pulp, fibrous strands)

Pumpkins are good for your health and surprisingly are more versatile than serving as decorations or food. There are many recipes out there that incorporate leftover pumpkin so you can treat yourself and reduce your food waste! I’m particularly interested in the pumpkin body scrub and fresh face masks.

Growing (seeds, all parts of the pumpkin)

So you’ve used your pumpkin for decorating, food, skincare, and you’re wondering what ELSE you can do? What about the stem and leaves? What about the seeds if you’re not interested in consuming them? You have two choices here: for your seeds, you can either save them to grow your own pumpkins, or you can compost them with the rest of the pumpkin that you did not end up using.

If your pumpkin is ready to have its final rest, the last thing that’s left to do is compost! Depending on where you live, there may be community events that offer pumpkin smashing to help break down the pumpkin and prep it for the composting facility — try searching “pumpkin smash + your city” to see if there is an event near you.