How many of you even think to reuse a Halloween pumpkin? Reusing my Halloween pumpkins is something I’ve been doing for many years. I guess I get it from my parents as I always remember the sad, droopy jack-o-lanterns getting a second life. Most of the time we fed them to our horses or wildlife, but occasionally, we made pies. And we ALWAYS saved the seeds to roast. Throwing something like pumpkin into the garbage would have been extremely odd.
Every year, we produce nearly 1.9 billion pumpkins in the United States. Most of which go completely uneaten. With our food waste rising to almost 40% being extra mindful of our pumpkin waste should be something to consider this year. Not to mention that pumpkins are SO much more than just fall decor.
Pumpkins are packed with essential nutrients and vitamins and can make some pretty darn yummy things. I can put away some pumpkin pie. I don’t even care, I’ll eat a whole one if presented the opportunity. But aside from pie, there are so many things that can be done to reuse a Halloween pumpkin.
When buying pumpkins, keep a couple of things in mind to make your pumpkin loving season a little less impactful:
- Source them locally – meaning they were grown locally. Fewer miles, fewer resources.
- Don’t turn your nose up at the ugly pumpkins. Those are more likely to get wasted because of our unrealistic beauty standards for EVERYTHING.
How to Reuse a Halloween Pumpkin
Eat your Halloween pumpkin
Everyone loves pumpkin spice flavored EVERYTHING but so many pumpkins go uneaten after they have been purchased. But why?! Is it awareness? Is it laziness? Guys, it’s not at all hard to roast a damn pumpkin, scrape out the innards, and consume it. The same process as eating butternut squash. We need to stop throwing our money away and utilize every penny. I feel that our cultural norm of disposability and instant gratification is the reason for so much of the waste that ends up in landfills these days. I could be wrong.
Keep in mind though, not all pumpkins are created equally. There are SO many varieties bred for different purposes like carving, decorative, and cooking. Carving pumpkins can still be eaten, there will just be far less meaty flesh to obtain after roasting. Look for varieties like Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina, Cinderella, and Fairy Tale.
There are so many things you can do with pumpkin puree. If you are not sure how to make pumpkin puree with whole pumpkins, I explain how to do it HERE.
And let’s not forget the seeds! Roast those bad boys in the oven with a little olive oil, garlic pepper, and S&P and you have a healthy snack high in protein.
Donate pumpkins to a local zoo or animal sanctuary
Many zoos and animal sanctuaries will happily take your pumpkins as long as they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals or adhesives to get them to last longer. The pumpkins provide enrichment and a portion of fun food. Delivering the pumpkins also gives you an excuse to enjoy some family time.
Make a “Snack-O-Lantern”
Wildlife LOVE pumpkins. Add some corn or seeds to your pumpkins, maybe cut them up a bit, and let nature indulge in the yummy treat. When I lived at home with my parents, we used to set our pumpkins in the nearby fields for deer. Those pumpkins did not last long. I’m honestly surprised they never got onto the porch to get them.
Give your pumpkins to a local farmer
Many local farmers would love taking pumpkins to feed chickens or pigs. They are a healthy treat for most livestock and in my opinion, this is a better alternative than ending up in a landfill.
Plant pumpkins for next year’s pumpkins
Pumpkins are expensive, at least they are here. Planting pumpkins is a great way to get a ton of pumpkins for free. By this time next year, you’ll be able to charge people to come to your house for pumpkins. I did this one year and I ended up with about 15 monsters.
Compost the pumpkins
And if all else fails, just compost them. In a local zero waste group I admin, one reader said that after Halloween on trash day, she picks up all of her neighbors binned pumpkins so that they don’t end up in the local landfill. That girl deserves a high five!!
See! Who says you can’t have your pumpkin cake and eat it, too?
What are your favorite ways to reuse a Halloween pumpkin?