How to keep 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkin out of landfill, with the Zero Waste Chef

My kiddo went to the pumpkin patch and came home with a perfect pumpkin. Such a fun tradition.

Pumpkin carving by Sofia Towers, age 8. Photo courtesy Natalie Langmann.

And then, this reminder, from Anne Marie Bonneau, the Zero Waste Chef, came: south of the border in the US, 1.3 billion pounds of uneaten pumpkins end up in landfills in the US after every Halloween. Rough guesstimate, but we probably generate a tenth of that…

The SLRD’s Zero in on Waste team shared that :”when organic material is sent to landfill to decompose it releases methane into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is the single largest waste stream found in landfills. When composted food waste can turn into a valuable nutrient in compost it can then be applied to farming. When broken down in an anaerobic digester methane can be captured to produce renewable natural gas.

In Canada the most prominently wasted foods by weight are:
• Vegetables: 30%
• Fruit: 15%
• Leftovers: 13%
• Bread and Bakery: 9%
• Dairy and Eggs: 7%”

It’s only waste, if we put it in the wrong place.

Bonneau suggests avoiding this sad trash mountain by: 1. eating your pumpkins. 2. Saving the seeds. 3. Feeding them to animals. 4. Composting them. 5.Or looking for a community pumpkin smash if you can’t compost at home.

She posts a host of recipes if you’re looking for inspiration.

We won’t have a local pumpkin smash event this year – COVID-carefulness makes organizing larger gatherings something we’re still putting off for a little bit – but do remember that your pumpkin, post Halloween, will be happier in food scraps or compost bins than in the landfill.

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