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Halloween sees neighborhoods come alive with festive jack-o-lanterns. However, too many end up in landfills.
“But they’re biodegradable,” you lament. That’s true. However, putting organic waste in the regular bin contributes to excess methane emissions, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.
How should you dispose of your holiday cheer and walk gently on the planet? Here are nine ways to use pumpkins after Halloween.
1. Roast the Seeds
Roasted pumpkin seeds are a nutritious and delicious treat. They’re also one of the best dietary sources of magnesium. This mineral is powerful, especially if you get the winter blues. Many people are deficient, and some with major depressive disorder made a rapid recovery when given a supplement.
It’s far tastier to eat them fresh from the oven than to take a pill. All you have to do is coat them with butter or oil and salt and bake. Leave them in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When finished, they should turn golden brown. Let your treat cool before eating and enjoying it. You can devour the husk or spit it out.
2. Donate It
You might not think of donating a pumpkin. After all, won’t it rot?
Not if you take it to a local farm who can use it to feed their livestock. For example, Pumpkins for Pigs is one organization devoted to this cause, although you can also talk to local farmers you might know.
3. Decorate for Thanksgiving
Who says Halloween is the only holiday that needs a pumpkin? If you didn’t carve yours, why not let it stick around for Thanksgiving? You can use it as part of a centerpiece or have smaller ones tumble from a cornucopia.
What about rot? While it is a concern, you can make your pumpkin last longer by drying it first and adding a coat of floor or furniture paint.
4. Make a Bird Feeder
Your pumpkin can become a winter feeder for your feathered friends. It doesn’t take too much to pull this craft together and hang it outside of a picture window where you can watch the festive gathering it attracts.
Begin by cutting your pumpkin in half, scooping the insides if you haven’t carved it. Drill a small hole on opposite sides, about an inch or more from the cut edge. Loop twine through the holes. Fill the base with bird seed and watch what follows.
5. Or Nourish Other Critters
Did you know that many wild animals adore pumpkin? It’s also good for them. If you have kitties, you know they love the insides because it acts as a natural probiotic — it does the same for outdoor creatures.
All you have to do is cut up your pumpkin into smaller pieces and place it around your yard. Critters from mice to squirrels will come and accept their offering with thanks that you’re helping them fatten up before the long winter.
6. Save the Seeds
Are you a gardener? Why not save money by planting next year’s pumpkin in a few weeks — or drying the seeds for when it’s time to sprout them? All you have to do is save and dry the seeds and nurture them to life when the instructions say it’s best to do so in your zone.
Drying seeds is easy. All you have to do is scoop them out and remove as much pulp as possible. Then, spread them on wide bowls or baking dishes and leave them to sit in the open for about one week. Store them in a cool, dry place until needed.
Composting is far superior to landfills. It lets biodegradable goods do what they’re intended to do, rewarding you with rich soil to fertilize your gardens.
Best of all, you don’t need a giant backyard bin, although it’s easy enough to make one on the cheap with free used pallets from your local hardware store. However, even apartment dwellers can find countertop models that eliminate odor.
8. Make a Spa Treatment
Could your looks use a refresher? Why not throw a DIY spa day with creams and treatments you can make with your leftover pumpkin? Try some of these beautiful ideas:
- Foot wrap: Puree your pumpkin, mix with honey and egg and coat your feet. Throw on some old socks for 15 minutes and rinse.
- Oily skin face mask: Pumpkin contains natural alpha hydroxy acids. Blend puree with apple cider vinegar and a whole egg. Leave the mixture on your face for 20 minutes and rinse.
- Body sugar scrub: Exfoliate your skin by mixing equal parts puree and olive oil, then adding sugar crystals to make a thick slurry. Add to a washcloth and scrub away those dead cells.
9. Cook It Up
Warning: you should only use this tip if you put aside some of the pumpkin innards before setting out your carved pumpkin. Otherwise, it could accumulate bacteria, making it unsafe to eat.
However, you can make anything from soup to salad dressings come alive with a bit of pumpkin puree. All you have to do is process it until smooth, then freeze and save or use immediately.
Ways to Use Pumpkins After Halloween
There’s nothing spookier than turning your Halloween decor into landfill fodder. Why not go green instead?
Consider the above nine ways to use pumpkins after Halloween. You can enjoy the many benefits of this plant that go well beyond decor.