Top 3 Things To Do With Your Pumpkin Besides Dump it in a Landfill

Americans send a billion pounds of nutritious food to rot in the dump every Halloween. Here are three better things to do with it:


Our Halloween pumpkins are contributing to climate change,  the U.S. Department of Energy warned us in 2015. Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S. each year end up in the landfill, the agency says. Organic waste left to decompose in landfills releases methane into atmosphere. Methane is “a harmful greenhouse gas  with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” according to the agency. Pumpkins are also very nutritious, making it a shame to waste all that perfectly good food. So before you toss yours in the trash — or the neighbor kids smash it on your porch — consider nourishing yourself, wildlife, or the soil:

1. Eat it

Start with the seeds. Loaded with magnesium, zinc, protein, amino acids, antioxidants and omega 3s, pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses wrapped in tiny packages. A recent study found pumpkin and squash seeds inhibit skin cancer growth.

Just spread them on a baking sheet and toast at 300 degrees for about a half hour.

Make broth. Boil the stringy, slimy stuff from the center in water to make broth for soup. Try adding carrot, celery and other vegetable trimmings for more flavor.

Make Pie or Pumpkin Butter. So this is the part where you might consider buying a smaller “pie” pumpkin, as the larger carving pumpkins are bred for looks, not taste. This way you could have a pumpkin that serves two purposes — a tiny jack-o-lantern and a nutritious, delicious dessert. Just don’t carve it until Halloween and puree up the flesh the next day, to make sure it’s fresh.

2. Feed it to wildlife

If you don’t want to eat it yourself, pumpkin makes a great snack for wildlife, says the National Wildlife Federation. Birds and other small mammals will be delighted to find the seeds scattered in your yard. Don’t salt or season them, NWF warns. Many backyard wild animals will eat pumpkin flesh if you cut it up into pieces for them. Porcupines will eat it whole.

3. Compost it.

If your pumpkin’s been carved for a few days and it’s starting to rot, composting is a far better option than the dump. Pumpkins are great additions to a compost pile. They’re are 90% water, which means they breakdown quickly. Here’s how to do it. Composting reduces or eliminates the methane released into the atmosphere when organic matter decomposes in landfills.






16 responses to “Top 3 Things To Do With Your Pumpkin Besides Dump it in a Landfill”

  1. Steve Rowat Avatar
    Steve Rowat

    Beautiful roasted: Make Pumpkin and vegetable soup using a bone broth as a base – great for winter and freezes well: Use as a second vegetable – boiled, baked or whatever ……. an extremely versatile, sweet, tasty vegetable and grossly underrated in European societies.

  2. Jeanette S Avatar
    Jeanette S

    I would only put the pumpkin pie ones out plain for decoration with other things, corn stalks, mum plant or by them selves. I buy the deco ones for cutting. and always compost it when it starts to go. If you cut a pie pumpkin or one you plan to eat be wary of the candles you put in it-you will eat toxic chems in the candle, especially if it is conventional candle and scented. scents in ANYTHING are unregulated, they can and do put whatever they want to get the scent desired, even carcinogens. (they go through your skin by the way.) Unless you have poor wild animals that will eat it, compost it. If the seeds have all those nutrients…I am thinking I would like the pumpkin with them in my compost pile. better if via my other kids, the furry ones.

  3. Michael Howie Avatar

    Feeding wildlife – particularly those who are considered “nuisances” by many people can lead to a lot of issues in communities and ecosystems. Please don’t feed the animals. Learn more at

  4. Eileen Rothberg Avatar
    Eileen Rothberg

    I use pottery pumpkins for candle lit pumpkins and just draw faces with a black sharpie on many, many, small pie pumpkins. Then November 1, I bake them and puree the flesh and freeze it in 2 cup batches to use all year in tacos, soups, and pies.

  5. Barbara A Hurley Avatar
    Barbara A Hurley

    My question would be how safe is it to eat after sitting outside in a variety of temperatures for a month? The seeds, yes because you’d get them right off but the pumpkin itself – feed the wildlife or compost.

  6. Tracy C Avatar
    Tracy C

    You know the quick, easy way remove toxins from the soil? You grow pumpkins. So unless they’re organic, I won’t eat nor compost them. Deer can have them, I just won’t feed them to my family.

  7. Scott Avatar

    Larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins can be delicious! Slice the flesh, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, and grill or roast. Grate it and make muffins or loaves. Purée it into soup. Add cubed pumpkin to stews and curries. Freeze the purée in ice cube trays as baby food. Roast the seeds, of course.

    Every September and October, I buy several of these big, bad, boys, usually for less than three bucks apiece, and feast like a king.

  8. Devana Avatar

    I think these are all amazing ideas. The one I’m more drawn to is the edible version. If we happen to carve them a few days before and set them out, would they still be safe to eat?

  9. Sophie Avatar

    The seeds are also a great natural wormer for chickens and other animals, we also put them in the pumpkin patch each year to grow more pumpkins

  10. Sharon Avatar

    My dogs love cooked pumpkin, too. And it’s very healthy for them, too.

  11. Kristen Avatar

    You can also donate pumpkins to your local animal sanctuary! Pigs, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, horses and other rescued animals love eating pumpkins! It gives these rescued animals a special treat that is also nutritious. It also helps the sanctuaries supplement their feed bill.

  12. Chris Benson Avatar
    Chris Benson

    Curried pumpkin or squash,as a vegetable or soup is great.

  13. Cris Avatar

    You could also save some of the seeds to plant next year. (Google how.)

  14. Allison Wilson Lee Avatar

    I always roast and then puree my pumpkin–that we don’t carve, just set out for decoration–and then freeze it in 2-cup portions for pumpkin bread (composting the rest). I never thought of broth! Going to make that this season–thanks!

  15. Stephanie Avatar

    There’s probably a local farmer who would gladly take it to feed his pigs or chickens.

  16. Terri Green Avatar
    Terri Green

    Pie pumpkins are cut in half and partially baked, fill with cubed bread, gruyere cheese and your choice of herbs. Add edible flowers for color and flavor.