Can we have our pumpkins and still be green?
At Triple-S Compost, we love Halloween and its unofficial designation as the beginning of the holiday season. It's time for cooler temperatures, garden harvests and get-togethers with family and friends as decorating, celebrating and cleanup modes begin in earnest.
From pumpkins, food and decorations associated with the holidays to the yard and landscaping waste produced to clean up after summer and prepare for winter — it’s easy to see why the last three months of the year often see record levels of waste coming into landfills. In fact, the experts at trees.com report that more than 80% of Americans buy at least one pumpkin during the fall, but one in four of the pumpkins sold end up in landfills.
At Triple-S Compost, we believe we can all work together to move the needle toward a more sustainable future. That starts with a little education.
What’s the problem with pumpkin waste? Like all agricultural production, growing and harvesting pumpkins require important natural resources like land, water and power. While the production itself is not an environmental issue, the problem arises when those decorative pumpkins get discarded directly into the trash. Like most food waste, these pumpkins end up in municipal landfills, increasing levels of methane gases.
Make a commitment not to discard. The first thing we can all do is raise awareness about the high cost of pumpkin waste and encourage consumers to consider healthier alternatives to discarding pumpkins in the trash. The good news is that sustainable pumpkin disposal solutions are on the rise, proving that everyone can learn more and make small changes to make a big difference!
Don’t forget the impact of reduce, reuse and recycle. Pumpkins are a delicious source of vitamins and nutrients. Food experts remind us that although pumpkins cannot be canned like many vegetables, they can be frozen whole or in pieces for later use in breads, pies or side dishes throughout the holiday season. For people with access to fields, farms, forests or larger properties, remember that dumping pumpkins in large quantities in the woods can have detrimental effects by attracting unwanted critters. In smaller quantities pumpkins can be safe and nutritious for many animals but check with veterinary experts for best practices.
How can composting help? When it comes to sustainability, composting is one of the best disposal methods to consider. Pumpkins are ideal for composting because of their high nutrient value, breaking down quickly and easily to make dense and rich fertilizer. Even if you don’t normally compost or have a limited yard space, pumpkins can be broken into small pieces and buried just below the surface of a bed to enhance soils and provide a feast for earthworms, bugs and other insects in the food chain. Whether adding to your home composting bin or composting on a larger scale such as the organic composting we accomplish here at Triple-S, pumpkins can play a valuable role in the circular economy. Many neighborhoods and communities are even getting onboard with pumpkin smashes and collection sites to assist in organic composting.
As the holiday season approaches, it pays to be proactive about our commitment to better habits for our families, our communities and our planet. For more information about how you or your business can partner with Triple-S Compost to divert waste from our landfills and promote the circular economy, contact our team here to learn how your holidays can be green for life.