reducing waste

What To Do With Your Old Halloween Pumpkins

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The sad, slouching shapes of post-Halloween pumpkins can give the holiday a bad reputation of sending a lot of pumpkins into our landfills, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Want to know what to do with your decorative pumpkins once the big night is over? Let’s start with the obvious question:

Can I eat my Halloween pumpkin?

No. Though we’re usually all about how to repurpose food remnants into something tasty, Halloween pumpkins that have been carved, left out in the elements, and played host to a smoky candle will not taste that great, no matter how you fix them up.

So what should I do with them?

Compost them! You can get the best mileage out of a molding pumpkin by composting it. If you already have a pile going, consider breaking up the pumpkin a bit for speedier decomposition. If you’d rather give the pumpkin one more life, you could also consider donating it to your local zoo.

Is it hard to start composting?

Absolutely not! The prospect of starting a compost pile can be intimidating, but in practice it’s a low-maintenance project with the potential for the reward of super-rich fertilizer. A few droopy pumpkins could be the motivation you need to get started! If you have room somewhere out back for a bin, check out our composting 101 post or this simple how-to.

What if I live in an apartment or just don’t have space or time to compost?

There are many options for you! Check out resources in your community! Your local community garden or weekly farmers market may have a compost bin open to the public. Get a head start and check with Find a Composter to see if anything is listed in your neighborhood. Load your pumpkins in the trunk, and feel good doing it!

Three cheers for a less wasteful Halloween!


  • Avatar
    A Pat
    October 28, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    If you didn’t carve your pumpkin, you can eat it. Even if it was on your porch, because that’s kind of like being on the farm. Even if you drew on it. As long as it stays whole, it will last for many months. Turn it a little bit every few days so it doesn’t develop a pressure point and then break down.
    To roast a pumpkin, cut it into half and clean out the seeds. Stick it in the oven skin-down (bowl up), put foil or a baking tray on the rack below it, and turn the oven on. For large "carving" pumpkins I do 400-425 for about 60-90 minutes until the flesh is mushy and skin in blackened. The little pie pumpkins are less time. When it’s done the skin falls right off and you have pumpkin puree.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this excellent pumpkin advice. We appreciate it and are sure other folks reading it will find it useful, too. We’re grateful for you!

  • […] on it will produce a hollow sound, rather than the thud of a sugar pumpkin. So, when you’re done with your Jack O’Lantern, it’s best resting place is the compost, not your […]

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    October 28, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    I cut a hole in the side of the pumpkin that I didn’t carve. I leave it for the squirrels, they love it! When they’re done I compost it.

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    Jennifer Young
    October 29, 2020 at 12:27 am

    If the pumpkin hasn’t been carved, I like to cut it into large (ish) chunks, bake them and freeze them. When my dog has stomach issues, I take out a frozen chunk of pumpkin, thaw it and feed it to the dog. He lives it and it seems to calm his stomach issues.

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    October 29, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Our city zoo takes donations of pumpkins for their animals.

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    October 29, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    The biggest advantage of composting your old pumpkin is new pumpkins. We have often had a couple of seeds from last year’s pumpkin take root in the vegetable garden and give us a few pumpkins.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    the pumpkins on my porch this year are all from last year’s pumpkin, I grew a patch in my backyard from all of the seeds in 1 pumpkin.

  • Avatar
    October 29, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Squirrels, deer, and other wildlife also love pumpkin. Just break the pumpkin into chunks and leave it where the wildlife can find it.


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