Pumpkins: Waste or Not?

By Andrea Davis on October 16, 2023

You just finished carving your third set of pumpkins this year—all masterpieces. As you admire your artistry, you wonder what you’re going to do with them when Halloween is over. Throwing them in the trash is an option, but it isn’t the only one. Read on to learn more.

Cooking pumpkins is a great way to use them before they go bad. After scraping off any painted parts, the rind can be used in foods like pumpkin pie, bread, soup or any number of recipes. Their seeds are also a tasty treat. Pumpkins are high in vitamin A, C, and are rich in potassium, making them a quick way to get many of the nutrients you need!

If you don’t love the taste of pumpkin, leave your used pumpkins out for birds or deer to enjoy. Just take caution when sharing your pumpkins as they can attract wildlife you may not want near your home.

To ensure they are safe to eat, only cook jack-o-lanterns that have been carved within the last 24 hours and kept outside in the cold. It’s probably best not to eat carved pumpkins that have been sitting around for multiple days or that are soft, slimy or moldy in any spots. It’s always good to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety.

Composting is a great way to re-use pumpkins that you no longer need or want. Once any painted or drawn on sections are removed, they are safe to place in compost bins.

If you don’t have your own compost pile, you can bury used pumpkins under or near your garden to attract worms and enhance your soil. Alternatively, local farmers and pumpkin-smashing events often welcome pumpkin donations with open arms for their own composts. Look at local groups or news to see if any near you are accepting donations!

Throwing pumpkins away is definitely an option, and you can feel good about the fact that trash collected in most of Granger’s service territory ends up as renewable energy! When these pumpkins break down in one of Granger’s landfills, the gas they generate is collected and used to produce electricity or renewable natural gas by Granger’s energy partner, EDL!


There are plenty of great options for disposing of pumpkins, and all of those mentioned in this post will have a beneficial result!