Thanks for attending EcoFest! Pumpkin season is almost upon us - did you know that 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in U.S. landfills each year? Organic waste like this is the largest contributor to landfills, and it releases methane into the atmosphere as it breaks down.
Read on for tips to avoid throwing those used jack o'lanterns in the trash.
Give your jack o'lantern a second life
1. Eat them: Baked, roasted, pureed – there are many ways to enjoy pumpkin! Do not use pumpkins that may have been painted.
• Cut in half, bake, and fill with your favorite dip or soup for your next dinner party.
• Use the puree in morning smoothies or with ice cream for a fall milkshake.
• Make homemade pumpkin butter: add 2 C. puree to a saucepan with 1 C. brown sugar, and 1 C. water or apple cider. Add spices to your preferred taste – cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 25 minutes. Once cool, store in the refrigerator and enjoy on biscuits, toasts, pancakes and more!
2. Donate them to zoos or animal shelters that need them for enrichment
3. Compost them – in your back yard, and neighbor’s backyard, or other composting facility
• Take out your family aggressions with a baseball bat, then gather the bits and add to a compost pile.
4. Make a bird feeder – cut the pumpkin in half and fill with seed, hang it or let it rest on the ground
5. Cut them into smaller pieces and distribute around the yard to allow local wildlife to eat. Do not use pumpkins that may have been painted or bleached.
6. Make a pumpkin puree face/body scrub: 5T puree, 3tsp. brown sugar, a splash of milk or milk substitute. Rub on in a circular motion, leave on for 20 minutes, rinse!
7. Turn your pumpkin into a flower pot for fall flowers, or use as a centerpiece for you fall table. Simply cut in half, add soil and plants. Once the pumpkin starts to soften, dig a place in the garden and sink in the pumpkin. The natural decomposition will fertilize your plant while it composts.
8. Plant native seeds for next year. Dig a hole large enough to sink your pumpkin into your yard or garden. Fill with soil and add seeds. Note – this works best with varieties that need cold weather to properly germinate the following spring, and for single seed types rather than mixed. Good species include, Blue Sky Aster (Aster azureus), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Wild Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), and Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolate) among others.