Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkin

Wait!  Before tossing out your Jack-O-Lantern to carve room for Christmas, consider giving it a second life. Pumpkins, one of the oldest known crops in the western hemisphere, have been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, the US alone produces nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkins a year. Unfortunately, most end up in a landfill after the holidays. Now that’s scary! Especially when there are multiple ways to make wonderful use of our beloved Cucurbita. 

Here are a few of our favorites…

Eat It 

Pumpkins are a fruit and, like all fruit, packed with nutrients. If your uncarved pumpkin is still firm and ripe, consider eating it. One half cup of pumpkin provides all the vitamin A required in a day and one cup has more potassium than a banana. It’s also a fantastic source of fiber.   

Puree it 

Skip the can and puree your own pumpkin. Then try one of these amazing recipes from the Food Network. 

Roast the seeds   

Pumpkin seeds are especially delicious roasted, not to mention nutritious and FUN to eat. After washing and drying, toss in olive oil, add some salt and your favorite seasoning, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 300°F for 30–40 minutes (or until brown and crunchy).  Check out some more easy recipes here.

Donate it 

We’re not the only ones who love pumpkin. Some municipal zoos collect uncarved pumpkins for elephants and other animals. Check with the Houston Zoo to see if they’re accepting donations. Pig farms often accept both carved and uncarved pumpkins, like this farm in Liberty County. 

Get Crafty 

Before your pumpkin transforms into a slimy monster, consider one of these great DIY projects.   

Decorate for Thanksgiving  

Uncarved pumpkins have a surprising shelf life. They should keep until Thanksgiving on a shady porch.

Feed some butterflies 

Share pumpkin with butterflies by placing pieces on a shallow dish.  Learn how to make a feeder for fruit-loving butterflies here.  

Make a bird feeder   

Learn how by watching this quick video from the National Audubon Society.

Compost it 

When sent to the landfill pumpkins add to the 30.3 million tons of annual food waste in the US.  Food waste produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. Compost your pumpkin instead to capture its nutrients and enrich your potted plants or raised garden beds.  

If you have a backyard compost bin, cut the pumpkin into small pieces and add to the bin with other green material.  If you don’t have a bin, simply shovel out a shallow depression in the ground, lay the pumpkin pieces in and cover with leaves. Nature will do the rest of the work and in a few weeks you’ll have compost that can either be left in place or scooped out and applied to your garden or lawn.   

Learn all about backyard composting on Saturday, November 6, 2021, by attending The Woodlands Township’s free backyard composting class at 8203 Millennium Forest Dr., from 10 am to 11:00 am. High quality C.E. Shepherd compost bins will be for sale for $50 each.

Backyard Composting Week

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for nearly 24% of all landfill material, consuming space and producing methane, a greenhouse gas that’s up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Much of this waste could be easily composted instead. From leftovers to kitchen scraps, composting is a great way to manage food waste, quickly turning it from problem to resource, right in your own backyard.   

This week The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department brings you resources for starting or enhancing your backyard composting. Wherever you are on your home composting journey, these handy resources will help. 

Beginner Composter 

Composting 101

Learn to compost in only 15 minutes. This video walks you through the process, from beginning to end.  Easy-to-follow instructions and great visuals will have you composting in no time.   

Backyard Composting Guide

Keep this comprehensive, step-by-step brochure handy as you design, build and manage your compost pile. You’ll find yourself enjoying nutrient rich compost in as little as three months.

Benefits of Using Compost and Mulch

On the fence about starting your own composting bin? This compelling resource, which covers the multitude of ecological, economic and sustainability benefits of composting, will leave you convinced and inspired.

Experienced Composter 

Soil Food Web Compost and Compost Tea 

Have you been composting for a while? Looking to take it to the next level? Dr. Elaine Ingham’s video explores microbes, compost tea, humic acid, and new temperature and humidity reading techniques.  

Composting with Worms:  Seven Easy Steps

Vermicomposting is a great option for composting at home, especially if you’re lacking yard space. Use worms to breakdown your food waste and yard trimmings – explained in seven easy steps. 

Compost Bins for Sale

The Woodlands Township offers high quality compost bins that set up in seconds for only $50; retail price is $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township at 281-210-3800 to purchase and arrange for pickup. 

Looking for more composting resources?  Check out the November resources we pulled together on Backyard Composting here.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

It’s Backyard Composting Week!

Composting is natural recycling. Put your yard trimmings and kitchen scraps to work by creating nutrient rich homemade compost in your own back yard. This week the Environmental Services Department is focusing on backyard composting. Whether you are new to composting or have been doing it for years, we’ve got some great tips and resources to help you out.  

Benefits of Composting  

Learn how composting can add value to your home landscape. 

Composting During COVID-19 Fact Sheet 

Home composting is safe even in the current COVID-19 situation.  Find out more from the US Composting Council. 


Beginning Composter  

If you are thinking about composting but haven’t started yet, these resources are just for you. Need a quick start “how to compost” guide? In just a few minutes, National Geographic will teach you how to begin composting at home.

Click the photo above to watch the National Geographic Green Guide

Remember the essentials of composting by using this easy one-page guide from Texas A&M. 


Already Composting   

Learn how to enhance your composting skills with this informative webinar from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 

Texas A&M’s “do it yourself” guide offers more information on backyard composting. 


Experienced Composter  

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance offers detailed home composting information in this 1.5-hour webinar. 

Compost Bins for Sale

To help you get started with backyard composting, The Woodlands Township is offering high quality collapsible compost bins for only $50. If purchased online, these bins retail for $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township 281-210-3800, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to purchase.  Bin pick up is available by appointment.  Happy Composting! 

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Mom always said “eat all your veggies…”

But did she tell you it saves water?

To a kid, mom knows just about everything. Mine always knew when I gave my broccoli to the dog or when I hid peas in my napkin. But maybe, just maybe, there are a few things Mom doesn’t know about the world of veggies. Does she know that it takes 30 gallons of water to produce a single serving of potatoes? Or 522 gallons for a serving of olives?!  So, when we send food to the landfill we send a lot of water with it.


Infographic courtesy of Mother Jones

Perhaps you’ve seen one of the recent national educational campaigns that urge better food shopping practices to avoid waste and save water. Save The Food reminds us that each American wastes almost 290 pounds of food a year. That’s a LOT of food! And water! Especially as many fellow Americans live in “food deserts” – communities where fresh produce and meats are difficult to obtain.


Reducing food waste isn’t a new message. This poster from World War I was a common sight throughout many towns. Photo courtesy of USDA

So, if you’re wondering what you can do to save water each time you sit down for a meal, consider these simple tips. First, think twice before tossing those uneaten potatoes in the trash. Save waste, water and your time by making a plan for leftovers. Consider how to turn them into something new and exciting for tomorrow’s dinner. I like to make frittatas out of leftover roasted veggies and chicken.  My family loves it and it I can turn out a new meal in just a few minutes. Also, I’ve invested in higher quality storage containers so I can save my extras in the freezer and then combine them with leftover foods for a completely new meal.

And for the peels, how about composting those right in your own back yard? It’s easier than you think to create rich soil for your vegetable garden, flower beds or lawn. Join a short and FREE Environmental Services Composting Class this spring to learn all you need to know.


Join us for a FREE Backyard Composting class on Saturday, February 1 or March 7

Here are some more easy ways to save water in the kitchen.

  • Break the habit of rinsing off your plates on the way to the dishwasher. With new high tech dishwashers there’s no need to rinse dishes before loading them. Pre-rinse too much and the sensors won’t find the food particles, causing the machine to run a shorter cycle, leading to a less thorough cleaning. If you’ve got big chunks, scrape them into the trash instead of rinsing.
  • Did you know most people use 10 to 15 times more soap than they need. If you’re using too much dish soap, you’ll need more water to wash away the suds.
  • And remember to wait until the dishwasher is full before you run it. You’ll save energy, too.

So, the next time you can’t eat all your veggies, save them for leftovers, freeze them or compost them. And be sure to let Mom know that you’re saving water too!


For those that want to find out more, the Water Footprint Network shows the water footprint for some of the most commonly consumed foods. Check it out here.


For more information on water saving resources, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or contact Teri MacArthur, Water Conservation Specialist, at tmacarthur@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Saturday, February 1, 2020
10 to 11 a.m.
The Woodlands Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services
8203 Millennium Forest Drive
No registration required

Create Rich Compost Using Thanksgiving Kitchen Scraps

Give thanks for the piles of potato and apple peelings, egg shells, onion skins, coffee grounds and tea bags left over after a home-cooked holiday meal and create your own nutritious backyard compost in just a few easy steps. 

Compost offers an abundance of benefits to the home landscape, garden and container plants through:

  • Improved soil texture and aeration
  • Improved drainage and nutrient availability in clay soil
  • Water loss prevention and nutrient leaching in sandy soil
  • Less fertilizer required since compost helps soil hold moisture

Food is the largest single source of waste in the U.S., taking up 20% of our landfill space. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 6% of our food waste gets composted.

Good news, it’s easy to do something about this problem. Start this season by composting your holiday meal scraps.  Here’s how:

Follow these simple guidelines

What to compost

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags and leaves
  • Raw vegetable scraps/peelings
  • Raw vegetable cores
  • Fresh fruit peelings/rinds

What NOT to compost

  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Grease
  • Cooking Oil

Animal by-products are not appropriate for home composting systems. As they decompose their odors may attract wildlife scavengers.  These items also require a lot more time to break down into components that are useful to plants.

Where to store your scraps

Most folks elect to save their compostable scraps in a bucket with a lid or a freezer quality zipper lock bag until they have enough to warrant a trip out to compost bin. Keeping the scraps sealed prevents any unpleasant odors.

How to compost

There are many ways to compost: bins, piles, barrels, enclosed, exposed and more.  Whatever your preference, a good starting point is to select an area for your compost that receives partial shade to keep from drying out too fast and good drainage to keep from being too wet. Compost needs a mix of organic material, microorganisms, air, water and nitrogen for decomposition to occur. The good news is that you have all these elements at home.  A good mix of kitchen scraps, dry leaves and garden clippings is a great place to begin. For more information on how to manage your compost throughout the year to produce the best material for your lawn and garden, check out this resource from The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services.

Setting up a home composting system is simple and easy.  The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department offers home composting classes on the first Saturday of each month from November through March.  Classes are free!

High quality C. E. Shepherd compost bins are available for purchase at each class.  Our classes are taught in our outdoor composting classroom located at 8203 Millennium Forest, The Woodlands, TX 77381.  Class is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with optional hands-on opportunities immediately following the presentation.  Join us to learn more about turning kitchen scraps into compost and be sure to check out our website for more information.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov