Here at ChasingGreen, we've been racking our brains looking for ways our readers can make Halloween a greener holiday. One of the most essential Halloween experiences is, of course, carving pumpkins and then decorating the house and porch with Jack O'Lanterns. These orange gourds are so integral to Halloween, in fact, that more than 1.7 billion pounds of them are sold in the US each year! When Halloween's over, however, what happens to all those carved pumpkins? Sure, they're compostable, but not everyone has the room or proper set-up to do that in their backyard. Here are a few ways you can reuse pumpkins after Halloween and, as a result, make the holiday and the planet a little bit healthier.
RE-USING YOUR JACK O LANTERN
Roast the Seeds: Fabulous Foods offers a great, simple recipe on how to make your own roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Remove any pulp or strings from the seeds.
- Toss in a mixing bowl 1 ½ cups cleaned pumpkin seeds with 2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil, along with salt to taste.
- Or, try making a pumpkin pie variation with equal parts cinnamon, ground ginger, a pinch of nutmeg, and the same amount of butter. More yummy variations are available at the Fabulous Foods website.
- Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on an oiled baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden.
Plant an Organic Pumpkin Patch: Save some of the seeds from your pumpkin carving and plant them in your back yard. Follow pesticide-free, all-natural gardening practices and you'll have wholesome, organic pumpkins for the picking in no time at all!
Donate your Pumpkin: Check with your local zoo to see if they'd accept your leftover pumpkins. They're known to feed pumpkins to the zoo animals, particularly the hippos, as a Halloween treat!
Make Pumpkin Fries: Oh, yum. Follow the recipe provided by Yum Sugar to make delicious pumpkin fries!
Preserve your Pumpkin: Why purchase canned pumpkin for your Thanksgiving recipes when you can freeze your Halloween pumpkin? For specific instructions, visit the Farmers Almanac website!
Make a Scarecrow: Use the Jack O'Lantern you make for Halloween as the head of your backyard harvest scarecrow! The wrinkles and crumpling that take place as the pumpkin begins to decompose will only add extra character to the scarecrow! Just remember to compost the pumpkin after it's served its purpose.
Make a Vase: Sometimes Jack O'Lanterns freeze while sitting out on the front step, which means they can last for weeks and weeks without showing signs of rotting. If that's the case for one of your Jack O'Lanterns, don't throw it away just because Halloween's over. Fill it with flowers, pinecones, acorns, or any other Thanksgiving or seasonal accents.
Donate for Composting: As we said in the introduction, not everyone has space for composting on their property. If that's the case for you, contact your local community garden to find out if they would like to add your leftover pumpkins to their compost pile. Go to CommunityGarden.org to locate one near you.