News & Politics

Here’s How to Sustainably Dispose of Pumpkins in DC

Smash and compost your Halloween jack-o'-lantern.

Pumpkin smash and compost collection at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market in 2021. Photographs by David Andrews.

Jack-o’-lantern season is over, and if your pumpkins are starting to look more sad than spooky, it’s time to dispose of them. But getting rid of your gourds can come with a cost: Pumpkins emit methane once they are left to rot in a landfill, which is almost 80 times more noxious for the environment than carbon dioxide.

“It is basically a pumpkin apocalypse after Halloween,” says Jeremy Brosowsky, founder of local organizations Agricity and Compost Cab. “Every year, more than two billion pounds of pumpkins will end up in landfills worldwide around this Halloween season.”

If you want a sustainable solution for dumping your pumpkin, here are three ways to get rid of gourds in DC.

Smash your pumpkins

Need to blow off some steam before the holidays ramp up? The Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market is hosting pumpkin smashes on November 5, 12, and 19 from 9 AM to 12 PM. Bring your jack-o-lantern and stomp it to pieces: Broken bits from the wrecked gourds are swept up and composted to prevent pumpkins from decaying in landfills. “The smaller the pieces are, the quicker these pumpkins will break down,” says Brosowsky.

Compost your gourds

If you’re looking to dispose of your pumpkins in a more refined manner, bring pumpkins and gourds to nine food waste collection sites around the District. The city partners with organizations like Compost Cab to run pumpkin drop-offs at local farmer’s markets, taking care of the composting for you. Collection sites cannot accept pumpkins decorated with paint, glitter, candles, wax, or any other non-organic material.

Donate your squash

If your pumpkin isn’t altered with carvings or paint, you can donate the untouched pumpkin and give it a second life. Brosowsky also started Pumpkins for the People, an organization that helps raise awareness about food waste. The group partners with non-profits such as Food Rescue, Miriam’s Kitchen and Martha’s Table for donations.

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