Don’t Dump your Pumpkin! Post-Halloween Uses

Pumpkins have historically been a sure sign of the Halloween season in the United States. Although they are most used for Halloween, there are many ways to use pumpkins after those spooky October days.

Every year in America, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin gets tossed in the trash and wasted. Instead of leaving them to rot in the landfill, try one of these ways to get more use out of your pumpkin after this year’s Halloween!

Hopefully, after reading this list, you are able to revel in the fact that a pumpkin is not just for Halloween. Not only can this help you save money, save time, and cook delicious dishes, but it also takes a much more eco-friendly approach instead of wasting food or creating garbage.

Reducing Pumpkin Waste

Compost your pumpkin. Pumpkins make a great addition to your compost pile and are fairly simple to add. The only thing you need to remember is to remove the seeds before placing them in the pile so they don’t root. Pumpkins are mostly made up of water so they decompose quickly. To speed up the process, even more, break up your pumpkin into bits. (Tip: Smashing your pumpkin is a great way to efficiently break it down. Turn pumpkin smashing into a fun activity with friends and family before tossing it in your compost pile)!

Bury your pumpkin. Instead of throwing them in the trash, burying them is a much better option. Doing so helps a pumpkin decompose and cultivate the Earth. 

Donate your pumpkin. One of the easiest things to do with your pumpkin is to donate it to a local farmer as a treat for their goats and pigs. More options for pumpkin donations include zoos, animal shelters, and community gardens.

Feed your pumpkin to local wildlife. Foraging animals like squirrels and deer are fattening up for the winter around the Halloween season. Cut your pumpkin into small pieces and leave them outside for animals to feed on.

DIY Pumpkin Creations

Make a pumpkin planter. Clear out the inside of your pumpkin. To slow the decay process, dip it in vinegar solution: one part vinegar to four parts water. If your pumpkin has a carved face, add a layer of burlap or landscape cloth to keep the soil from falling out. Fill the inside of your pumpkin with soil and add your favorite fall plant. (Tip: Mums make a great choice and are inexpensive this time of year).

Make a pumpkin bird feeder. Cut your pumpkin horizontally in half and clear out the inside. Fill the cavity with birdseed. Leave your feeder outside as is or hang it from a tree with some twine. (Tip: You can add your pumpkin seeds to your bird feed! Just rinse and dry the seeds before adding them in make sure not to add any salt or flavoring).

Recycling Your Pumpkin

Plant your pumpkin seeds. Clear out your pumpkin, rinse the seeds, and place them in a towel. Handpick the best-looking seeds and store them in a paper bag. After one month, check the bag and remove any rotting seeds. Keep the good ones until spring when you can plant them and have fresh pumpkins by next Halloween! 

Add pumpkin to your fall recipes. All pumpkins, gourd or squash, are edible and have many different tastes. The best part is you can eat every part of it – except for the stalk! In fact, pumpkins are a great source of Vitamins A and C, iron, and riboflavin. Roast your pumpkin seeds with your choice of seasoning, save the flesh for bread, pie, or soup, and use your guts for a broth base. The possibilities are endless! Check out some great recipes here.

Save your pumpkin for Thanksgiving. Uncarved pumpkins make great Thanksgiving decor and can last up to 12 weeks before they begin to rot. Save yours for a fun table centerpiece if it is whole and firm.


Want more Halloween fun? Check these out.

Riley earned her B.S. in Life Sciences Communication and a certificate in Global Health at UW-Madison. She is a social media intern at Promega.

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