What to do with pumpkins after Halloween

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Spooky season has come to an end, and some people might be wondering what to do with those Jack O’ Lanterns sitting on their front porches.

While tossing pumpkins in the trash might be easy, it can have a negative impact on the environment.

“I’ve been panicking, because right after Halloween people start dumping stuff in the forest preserve. Number one, it’s illegal and it’s not biodegradable the way they think it is,” said Peggy Doty, an educator at the University of Illinois Extension. “Very few people have a pumpkin, it’s like pumpkins, because Illinois produces the most pumpkins.”

Doty said that throwing pumpkins in the trash is a bad idea.

“What I like people to do is go, ‘okay I’m going to buy this, but I have a plan for when it’s done,’ Doty said. “I know that’s a lot to prep for a fun holiday, but otherwise they’re going in the garbage, they’re adding to the methane, and that’s one place we can stop the extra methane in the environment.”

There are a few things that Doty said are important to remember.

“Please don’t dump them in forest preserves, the deer don’t need them, it’s a lovely thought, and don’t throw them on the side of the road because then animals will be crossing the road, or hanging out by the side of the road,” Doty said.

Instead, people can leave them in an area on their property where squirrels or other animals can get a bite to eat, or, as Doty recommended, to call a local farmer and see if they would want the pumpkins for their livestock.

“What I recommend is composting them,” Doty said. “I would have to chop it up into lots of pieces, just to speed up the process.”

Instead of chopping, try smashing like Byron residents did on Monday with the fire department. It was part of a decades long tradition.

“Day after Halloween, kids come here with their pumpkins, they climb up onto our training tower, they drop them over, smash them, and try to hit a bullseye,” said Byron Fire Protection District Chief Phil DeMick. “It’s a great way to get rid of pumpkins, absolutely.”

The Discover Center,  711 N Main St, is hosting it’s annual “Smashing Pumpkin” event this upcoming Saturday.

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