Smash it, bury it but don’t trash it

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Don’t throw that Halloween pumpkin in the landfill trash.

Instead, take that pumpkin to a compost site, use it a garden or set it in appropriate place as wildlife food.

In Sioux Falls, the pumpkins can be disposed of at the leaf disposal site, said Holly Meier, the city’s sustainability coordinator.

“If they go to the landfill, they contribute to the landfill gas (emission),” Meier said.

A decomposing pumpkin in a landfill eventually turns into methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that has more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Composting uses more oxygen in the decomposition process because the compost contents are turned or as worms and organisms work through the compost. A maintained compost site produces less methane than a landfill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington University, and other multiple other sources.

The leaf disposal sites in Sioux Falls opened on Sept. 25. The sites are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Monday through Saturday and 12 noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. They are open until Sunday, Nov. 28 but are closed Thanksgiving. The sites are located at:

  • 1015 East Chambers St., just off of North Cliff Avenue, west of the household hazardous waste facility.
  • North Lyon Boulevard. Access is available from West 12th St. to North Lyon Boulevard or from West Madison Street to North Lyon Boulevard.

The demand for pumpkins in the U.S. has been increasing. Production of pumpkins for all uses rose 31% from 1.46 billion pounds in 2000 to 1.91 billion pounds in 2014, according to the USDA. The agency said the increase reflects reflects the demand for ornamental and food-use pumpkins.

According to the World Economic Forum about 900,000 tons of pumpkins are tossed in landfills each year in the U.S.

Illinois is the top producer of pumpkins in the U.S., according to the USDA. The state had 15,900 acres of pumpkins in 2020. A lot of those pumpkins end up in pies or similar items sold as finished products or ingredients. Some end up as Halloween pumpkins.

The Illinois Extension Service encouraged people to compost their pumpkins this year.

Carved pumpkins typically aren’t suitable for eating, according to multiple sources, it’s best to compost those pumpkins.

But seeds and the innards of uncarved pumpkins could be used to feed humans and wildlife. Pumpkins can be used for pie, for chili and other recipes. An internet search will result in dozens of recipes and tips for using pumpkins.

Waste management companies also recommend burying the pumpkin in the backyard to provide nutrients to a yard or garden.

The How to Dispose website said large pumpkins can be broken into pieces for burial. Burying pumpkins is one of the oldest known disposal methods, according to the website.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is among several agencies and organizations that suggest using pumpkin seeds to feed birds.  The Georgia DNR said pieces of pumpkins can be mixed with apple slices or other fruits to feed wildlife.

But feeding wildlife depends on the pumpkin owner’s yard and other factors such as whether or not the pumpkin has been sprayed.

Pumpkin owners can also check with a local farmer who may use pumpkins in a garden, field or to feed livestock.

Cities around the U.S. have been getting creative with pumpkin disposal. Cities in Minnesota and Illinois, for example, have sponsored pumpkin smashing events, where pumpkins are smashed for compost sites.

Cook County, Illinois’ goal is to collect 25 tons of smashed pumpkins at several events, according to Illinois Extension.

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