Easy Peasy Pumpkin Squeezy

It’s that time of year again where EVERYTHING is pumpkin spice, but these pumpkins take over more than just our grande nonfat latte’s. They’re in our pies, on our front porches, in our gardens, it seems they are always on our mind. Pumpkins are a fall staple just like the falling leaves that lend their name to the season. But what happens to all these pumpkins once their lifecycle is complete? 

Say boo to landfills! 

Each year 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in the landfill – talk about scary! Why is this a problem? Well, landfills are designed to store material, so pumpkins and other organic waste doesn’t actually break down like you would think; the lack of oxygen means buried organic matter will produce methane gas, a leading greenhouse gas. Additionally, a single pumpkin plant needs about 16 gallons of water per week during peak development. If the pumpkins it grew all season are then thrown away that’s like wasting over 100 gallons of water!  

Green your Halloween!  

This year is the perfect time to add new traditions to your family’s fall fun. Pumpkin fun doesn’t have to end on October 31st. Once Halloween has come and gone, give pumpkins a second life. We are not the only ones who love everything pumpkin. Squirrels, deer, pigs, rabbits, birds, and many other wildlife species would be more than happy to nibble on your spent pumpkins. Check your local zoos or animal sanctuaries to see if they are accepting them as an additional food source for wildlife. Pumpkins for Pigs, a non-profit that helps connect pumpkin consumers with wildlife sanctuaries, is focused on reducing food waste one gourd at a time. Check out their webpage for a list of donation areas near you.  

Decaying pumpkins are also the perfect ingredient for making compost. If you have a pile in your backyard, cut the pumpkin into small pieces and add it to your bin with other green material. If you haven’t yet started a compost pile at home, you don’t need to reap the benefits: hovel out a shallow depression in the ground, lay the pumpkin pieces inside and cover with leaves. Nature will get straight to work decomposing and cycling the nutrients back into your landscape.  

Smash it don’t trash it! 

Let us compost your pumpkins for you! The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department invites all ages to ghoulish green fun at Pumpkin Smash, Saturday November 4, 2023 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Sterling Ridge Park and Ride (8001 McBeth Way). Choose your own pumpkin smashing adventure! Catapult it and watch it fly, grab a baseball bat or mallet and smash it to smithereens, or watch it explode on impact from a 50’ drop. There is no limit to the number of pumpkins you can bring, they can be carved, uncarved or painted; remove non-biodegradable materials (candles, stickers, yarn, googly eyes, plastics, etc) because all pumpkin pieces will be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. 

With so many options for repurposing pumpkins, the landfill should be the last option. Green your Halloween this year, and for many years to come. For further information email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov or call 281-210-3800.  

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