cat and jack o'lanterns on porch
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Where To Throw Away Pumpkins When They're Rotting On Your Porch

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It just wouldn’t be Halloween without a jack o’lantern. No matter how gross it feels to dig out those seedy pumpkin innards or how hard it is to carve the perfect ghoulish grin in its rind, a glowing jack o’lantern (or three) on the front porch is worth all the effort. But what are you supposed to do with it once November hits? If you don’t know where to throw away your pumpkin, you’re definitely not alone.

Turns out, you don't have to just throw your jack-o-lantern in the trash after Halloween. If you want to be a little more green, there are creative ways to recycle your pumpkin and none of them involve bringing the sad-looking thing back into your house. When the candy is all gone and you go to chuck the pumpkin that's been proudly displayed in your home or on your front porch, think twice before you toss it in the garbage can. There are plenty of ways you can save your pumpkin from the garbage.

On this list you’ll find ideas for how to compost even if you don’t garden and other ideas for a mess-free way to rid your stoop of your pumpkin. (Note: If your pumpkin is showing signs of mold, it should be composted and not left outside or buried.)

Add It To Your Garden

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Pumpkins are mostly made up of water, per Go Green Wilmette, so tossing them into your garden soil is a great way to fertilize your garden or plant some pumpkin seeds in your garden (and if you don’t want any rogue pumpkins growing next year, make sure your pumpkin is free of seeds before adding it to the garden).

Feed The Animals

If your pumpkin is mold-free, you can fill it up with bird seed and set it out in your yard to make a pumpkin feeder, per Farm and Dairy. Wildlife will flock to the pumpkin for the seeds, but they’ll also eat the gourd itself. In no time, your pumpkin will be gone, and the animals will have full bellies heading into winter.

Bury It

If you want to enrich your soil a bit, but you don’t necessarily want to stare at a rotting squash, you can cut it up into smaller pieces and bury your pumpkin in shallow holes in your garden, per Recycle Nation. The pumpkin will break down and enrich the soil with nutrients; you can try this with larger indoor plants too, but I can’t guarantee that it will smell awesome as it breaks down.

Compost It

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If your pumpkin has signs of mold, the only thing you should really do with it is compost it (the mold may be harmful to animals or plants if left outside in a garden). If you already have a compost bin, you’re in luck. But if not, that’s no problem. You can use resources like CompostNow to get started with a compost bin (and you’ll get your first two collections free). Not ready to make a habit of composting? You could call around to local farms, schools, or community gardens who are often willing to take food waste off your hands so they can enrich their soil. Just note that because of Covid, these services may be limited right now, but if you do enough digging you should be able to find a place that will be delighted to take your pumpkin.

Puree It

Pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, they all have the same origin: pumpkins! Pumpkin puree is in almost any festive pumpkin dish you will ever make, and while you can buy canned versions, recycling your jack-o-lantern into a puree is a wonderful way to spice up your Thanksgiving spread and impress everyone who'll listen. (Assuming your pumpkin shows no traces of mold or anything else you don't want on your face.)

Make A Face Mask

Did you know that pumpkins contain Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc and plenty of antioxidants? Take that homemade pumpkin puree you just made and make this amazing, four-ingredient pumpkin face mask recipe from Wellness Mama.

Spike It

People just love anything with the word pumpkin in it. Be a hit at any Thanksgiving party with a delicious pumpkin cocktail, like this flavored Old Fashioned from Saveur.

Make Chips

If your pumpkin's skin is still nice and orange, try making some pumpkin chips. Peel the skin, sprinkle them with some spices, and let them dry out in a dehydrator or throw them in the oven. You can serve them at your next get together, or binge on them — guilt-free — while you watch your favorite shows.