8 Eco-Friendly Uses For All Those Halloween Pumpkins

8 Eco-Friendly Uses For All Those Halloween Pumpkins

So, the candy’s been sorted, the costumes are packed away and you’ve mentally moved onto Thanksgiving. But before you get to the turkey, there is one more thing to do. Deal with all those Halloween pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns sitting on your front porch. This year, let’s all vow to skip the landfill option. Here are eight eco-friendly uses for all those Halloween pumpkins.  

But first.  Don’t make pie with your leftovers. Well, actually you can try – but those big decorative pumpkins don’t make good pie. It won’t hurt you to eat them, that’s not the problem. But if you’re up for making pumpkin-anything totally from scratch, there is a better way. Ask your grocer at the farmer’s market for a ‘baking’ or ‘sugar’ pumpkin. These are typically smaller, less stringy and a whole lot more flavorful than the giants we carve up.   

Make Pumpkin Seeds!  

So, if you have an intact pumpkin – or an entire front porch full of them – you have all kinds of options. First, cut your pumpkins open and take out the seeds. Save the rind, we’ll get to that below. Then, rinse the seeds (no soap) and lay them out on a tray or towel to dry. Now comes the fun part.    

Image Courtesy of  Engin Akyurt from Pexels
  • Feed the birds.  Pumpkin seeds are best suited for a tray-type feeder, just add a handful or two of plain dry seeds, then wait and watch the show.  
  • Make a healthy snack.  Toasted pumpkin seeds are delicious. Lightly oil a cup or two of seeds, add some salt and your favorite spice as seasoning. Spread the spiced seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and slow roast (bake at 300degrees) for about 45 min.  Then crunch away!
  • Plant some.  You can sow pumpkin seeds now – or save them and plant in the spring. I’ve had good luck starting next year’s crop this way.

Recycle Halloween Pumpkin Rinds

Once you’ve salvaged the seeds, you’re ready for the rind.  Just chop up your pumpkin shell into manageable chunks. No cooking, no scraping needed. If you’re using carved jack-o-lanterns, be sure to first take out any candles, holders or foil.   Now what? 

Image Courtesy of Tim Mossholder from Pexels
  • Compost them. Add pumpkin chunks to your compost pile. Be sure to add plenty of dry or brown matter too – think dry leaves. A lot of leaves. If you don’t compost, check with a local homesteader or your local community garden.   
  • Start that raised bed garden. Put a layer of pumpkin chunks at the bottom of your raised bed and cover with soil. By spring all those nutrients will be ready to jumpstart your garden.
  • Feed a chicken. Yes, chickens eat pumpkin rinds and almost any vegetable-based scraps I put out for them. Your kids will get a kick out of watching them attack those rinds.  If you don’t have chickens, someone nearby may.  Ask around! 
  • Feed some wild things. Put your pumpkin a good-long-ways-out in the woods  – where the critters can have a feast.  Wild critters as in deer and squirrels are your target, so not too close to the house (even bears like pumpkin).  If you don’t have a large or wooded yard, ask a friend! 

Host a Halloween Pumpkin Smash November 7th

  • And finally, if you and the kids are feeling cooped up and have energy to burn, plan a COVID-safe neighborhood Pumpkin Smash . You’ll have a bast and keep a whole lot of pumpkins out for the landfill.  A family-friendly outdoor event, it’s a fun and eco-friendly use for all those Halloween pumpkins.   Wear messy clothes and be sure to bring your camera.  The videos are priceless.  

For more ideas for safe outdoor activities during COVID-19, check out our Lifestyle insights!