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Hi There, Please Don't Throw Your Halloween Pumpkins In The Trash

They head straight for the landfill.

I hate to burst your bubble — or, er, smash your jack-o-lantern? — but most of the 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins grown annually in the US end up in landfill.

Scary, right? And not in a fun way.
Carolyn Christine / Via unsplash.com

Scary, right? And not in a fun way.

While the vegetable is packed with fiber, and its seeds are full of protein, most of the pumpkins we produce never get eaten — especially when it comes to the Howden pumpkin, which is the most commonly decorated at Halloween and the least tasty.

Howden pumpkins aren't grown to become the stuff of cozy recipes: They're a more practical carving pumpkin, bred for their size, shape, and hooked handle that makes them easy to carry out of a patch. The types of pumpkins that are good enough to eat — sugar pie, jack-be-little, and Jarrahdale, for example — usually aren't picked for any spooky celebrations.
Viviana Rishe / Via unsplash.com

Howden pumpkins aren't grown to become the stuff of cozy recipes: They're a more practical carving pumpkin, bred for their size, shape, and hooked handle that makes them easy to carry out of a patch. The types of pumpkins that are good enough to eat — sugar pie, jack-be-little, and Jarrahdale, for example — usually aren't picked for any spooky celebrations.

The majority of Halloween pumpkins — 1.3 billion pounds, in fact — end up in the trash with silly faces carved into them, and then make their way to landfills, where they generate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

All of that organic waste releases methane, which has more than 20 times (!!!) the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Don't panic though: Agricultural waste is only the source of about 9% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the US Energy Department is aiming to convert plant waste into affordable fuel and energy. Still, 1.3 billion pounds?? That's...freaky.
Tymichael / Getty Images

All of that organic waste releases methane, which has more than 20 times (!!!) the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Don't panic though: Agricultural waste is only the source of about 9% of greenhouse gas emissions, and the US Energy Department is aiming to convert plant waste into affordable fuel and energy. Still, 1.3 billion pounds?? That's...freaky.

If you're feeling sufficiently spooked by all of those stats, here are a few alternatives to tossing your pumpkins in the trash:

1. Compost them.

Have a compost bin at home? Throw your pumpkin right on in. If you don't, head to your local farmers market and you should be able to find one there. That pumpkin might not seem edible to us, but it can certainly help feed the soil.
Carinlaura / Getty Images

Have a compost bin at home? Throw your pumpkin right on in. If you don't, head to your local farmers market and you should be able to find one there. That pumpkin might not seem edible to us, but it can certainly help feed the soil.

2. Feed them to your backyard critters.

The National Wildlife Federation says that pumpkin can be recycled as a tasty treat for wildlife, so feel free to spread some seeds and chunks in your garden or backyard for woodland creatures to snack on. Just don't salt or season them.
Njaganath / Getty Images

The National Wildlife Federation says that pumpkin can be recycled as a tasty treat for wildlife, so feel free to spread some seeds and chunks in your garden or backyard for woodland creatures to snack on. Just don't salt or season them.

3. Roast the seeds for a toasty snack.

If you haven't picked your carving pumpkin yet, or if you're pumpkin is still in good shape (maybe you painted it instead of carving it), then save! those! seeds! They can be roasted and flavored with everything from maple bourbon to honey sriracha. Get some recipes here.
Jennawagner / Getty Images

If you haven't picked your carving pumpkin yet, or if you're pumpkin is still in good shape (maybe you painted it instead of carving it), then save! those! seeds! They can be roasted and flavored with everything from maple bourbon to honey sriracha. Get some recipes here.

4. Make some hearty pumpkin soup.

Again, assuming your pumpkin hasn't been rotting outside with wax and bugs all over it, you can set aside some of its flesh and guts, and puree them to make a pumpkin soup that's perfect for a chilly day. Yum! Be sure to add lots of sugar, spice, and coconut milk (the secret weapon here) so it's plenty rich and flavorful. Get the recipe here.
cookieandkate.com

Again, assuming your pumpkin hasn't been rotting outside with wax and bugs all over it, you can set aside some of its flesh and guts, and puree them to make a pumpkin soup that's perfect for a chilly day. Yum! Be sure to add lots of sugar, spice, and coconut milk (the secret weapon here) so it's plenty rich and flavorful. Get the recipe here.

5. Bake a pumpkin pie that's festive as heck.

Or! If those innards are still intact, you can puree them for a pie. Sure, if you picked a Howden pumpkin, all that stringy stuff might not be delicious as is, but with a little love — OK, with some maple pecan crumble — they can transform into the pumpkin pie of your dreams. Get the recipe here.
Pierce Abernathy / BuzzFeed

Or! If those innards are still intact, you can puree them for a pie. Sure, if you picked a Howden pumpkin, all that stringy stuff might not be delicious as is, but with a little love — OK, with some maple pecan crumble — they can transform into the pumpkin pie of your dreams. Get the recipe here.

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Bekir Dönmez / Via unsplash.com

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