5 Ways to Recycle Your Halloween Pumpkins

Eco-friendly options for your jack-o-lanterns
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Photo credit Photo courtesy KDKA Radio listener Ray Feather

What do you do with your Halloween pumpkin decorations and jack-o-lanterns after all the trick-or-treaters have left?

That's probably something that quite a few of you have thought about. Now, if you really aren't really sure about it, don't worry - you aren't alone. A lot of people struggle with what to do with pumpkins after Halloween, especially the eco-conscientious among us. Luckily, our friends at the National Wildlife Federation have shared their 5 favorite ideas for pumpkin recycling. Check them out:


1. Compost Your Pumpkins

Pumpkins are actually 90% water so they easily and quickly break down, even more so if they've already been carved. A decomposing pumpkin actually makes for a great addition to you compost pile. Just be sure to remove all the seeds (and set aside for #3 and #5) so that pumpkins don't start growing in there. If you don’t compost, check in with your local government, nearby farms, or community gardens to see if they collect old pumpkins.


2. Make a Snack-o-Lantern

Turn those jack-o-lanterns into a wildlife-friendly eatery for the squirrels and birds in your backyard (or frontyard). It's pretty easy to do too, just fill your jack-o-lantern with bird seed and hang it up with some string. Trust us, the animals in your neighborhood will love it!


3. Leave Seeds for Wildlife

Just like us humans, birds and animals eat pumpkin seeds if they're in your yard. As you're getting ready to compost the pumpkin, collect its seeds and let them dry. Sprinkle the seeds on flat surfaces like a tray or a shallow bowl. Or, mix in the seeds with existing bird seed in your snack-o-lantern.


4. Cut Your Pumpkin into Pieces for Animals

Most of the animals that run around your backyard will eat up your old pumpkins. If you're feeling particularly kind, cut the pumpkins into little bits and scatter around for the critters.


5. Plant Pumpkin Seeds

Here's a fun fact: the squash bee is one of many insects that will pollinate pumpkin flowers. So, if you have room in your yard, you can save this year's seeds for a new harvest of pumpkins next year.