Although halloween may look a little different this year while we navigate the holidays amidst a global pandemic - families are still finding ways to be festive at home. One tradition that COVID won’t be putting on hold is pumpkin carving for jack-o-lanterns! Although this annual craft is a great way to get into the Halloween spirit - it isn’t that great for the environment. Every year about 2 million pumpkins are produced and of that 1.3 billion tonnes end up in landfills (1). This emits great amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, which only furthers our global warming crisis. Likewise, when pumpkins end up in landfills they do not break down into viable soil. In the United States, we have lost about 74% of farmable soil due to poor farming practices and how we are disposing of food (2).
Just because we have been wasteful in the past doesn’t mean we have to completely miss out on a beloved tradition. Instead, we need to be mindful of how we use the pumpkins we purchase in the fall. Learning how to use every piece of the whole pumpkin, or at the very least disposing of it properly, can make this fun and festive fall decoration that much more enjoyable for everyone! Here are 5 clever ways to use your pumpkins after you are done using them as decor.
*We urge you to opt out of decorating your pumpkins with paint and other toxic chemicals, as this makes them unsafe for eating or composting*
Roasted pumpkin seeds can last for up to 3 months on your shelf and they can be enjoyed raw or roasted! The seeds are rich in essential vitamins like zinc, magnesium, and vitamin K. They are easy to incorporate into various foods like granola, used as a topping for salad, and even used to make pumpkin seed butter!
Pumpkin puree is a delicious ingredient that can be used in a lot of fall inspired recipes - and it can even be stored in the freezer for use up to one year! This is a great way to get antioxidants and minerals into your diet all while you reduce waste. It is incredibly easy to make – all you need is your pumpkin, an oven, and a food processor. Here is an easy recipe to try.
Not everyone is a huge fan of eating pumpkin, but that doesn’t mean something else will! Plenty of farmers use produce like pumpkins in their livestock’s feed. If you have farmers near you, try and reach out to them and see if they will take your pumpkins off your hands. That way you save them money and you help the environment too!
Pumpkins are rich in antioxidants which help give skin a wonderful glow, and who doesn’t want an excuse to slap on a face mask every now and then? Using fresh ingredients is perfect for those with sensitive skin, and then high nutrient density of the pumpkin will surely leave your skin feeling great. Here is an easy recipe to get you started!
At the very least, we should be composting all of our holiday pumpkins once we are done with them. This will help create healthy soil that can be used to grow new food in the future. It also prevents further CO2 emissions, because tiny microbes in the soil turn the carbon from the pumpkin into natural fertilizer instead of letting it escape into the atmosphere. You can compost your food scraps at home, or search for a community composting center near you!
Looking to compost your food waste? Check out MakeSoil to connect to compost bins in your area!