Moldy jack-o-lantern after Halloween

Halloween has come and gone, and you’re probably ready to get out the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. But what should you do with the jack-o’-lantern that has lit up your balcony for the past week?

One popular option is to compost it, as pumpkins are organic waste like any other fruit or vegetable. First, remove any candles and non-organic decorations, as well as any remaining seeds so you won’t start growing new pumpkins in the compost pile.

But what if you don’t have access to a backyard compost bin?

In Bluemont, Virginia, the week after Halloween is Pumpkin Chunkin’ time at Great Country Farms. Residents can bring in a pumpkin to be smashed or dropped from various heights — you can even smash it yourself. The smashed remains are a yummy treat for the pigs and cows, and any leftovers get composted. For 2021, Pumpkin Chunkin’ dates are November 1-7.

In Glencoe, Illinois, the laws of physics participate in the composting process. The village holds an annual Pumpkin Smash and Composting event. Local residents can bring their old jack-o’lanterns (cleaned of candles and other decorations) to the local community garden to smash them. The leftovers are composted for the garden. The 2021 festivities are on Saturday, November 6, but if you can’t make the event, you can drop off your pumpkins for composting November 1-7.

Interested? A quick web search should help you find a unique pumpkin disposal event near you. If you can’t find an event in your community, use our Recycling Search tool to find a yard waste facility near you that will accept your old pumpkins for composting. Make sure to remove candles and any non-organic decorations first!

Originally published on Nov. 2, 2009, this article was updated in November 2021. 

By Trey Granger

Trey Granger is a former senior waste stream analyst for Earth911.