News & Politics

Here’s How to Sustainably Dispose of Pumpkins Around DC

Option one: Smash 'em!

Pumpkin compost collection at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market. Photograph by David Andrews.

Whether you went for a smiley or spooky jack-o’-lantern this Halloween, something scary lurks inside the pumpkin on your porch: greenhouse gas emissions. When pumpkins are tossed into the trash to rot in a landfill, they produce methane–a potent greenhouse gas that significantly contributes to global warming. And with Americans producing about 1.5 million pounds of pumpkins each year—most of which becomes fall decor rather than food—the emissions add up.

But there are some creative ways to dump your pumpkin without sending them to a literal dump. Here are three eco-friendly ways to get rid of them:


Smash ‘em!

Release pent up rage while helping the environment. Take a hammer, bat, or launch your pumpkin through the air until it’s shattered to bits. The smaller pumpkin chunks become the perfect size for composting (or farm animal food).

Great Country Farms (34345 Snickersville Turnpike, Bluemont, Va.) will host a massive Pumpkin Chunkin’ event all weekend long from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday, November 4 and Sunday, November 5. There will be an array of pumpkin destruction tools, from a zip line to a “pumpkin wall of death,” with tickets from $14 to $16. After destroying your pumpkin, watch the farm’s animal devour the scraps.

Within DC, City Tap House in Penn Quarter (901 Ninth St., NW) welcomes attendees to its Pumpkin Smash event on Saturday, November 4 from 11 AM to 3 PM. There, you can destroy pumpkins while sampling pumpkin-flavored beers, waffles, French toast, and martinis. The smashing will be free and open to adults and children, but reservations are encouraged. Pumpkin remains will be sent to feed the pigs at Cox Farms in Centreville, Virginia.


Compost your pumpkins

If you’re looking for a less messy and aggressive disposal method, try composting your leftover gourds and jack-o’-lanterns. There are 10 farmers’ market locations across DC that will collect compostable food scraps like pumpkins. Drop off your leftovers during market hours and they’ll be sent to Prince George’s County Organics Compost facility to break down naturally. In Virginia, Fairfax County welcomes locals to drop off their pumpkins for composting at two locations in the area, with collection hours from 7 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and 7 AM to 4 PM on weekends until Friday, November 17. Be sure to remove any candle wax, paint, and glitter from your pumpkins before sending them to compost. Cutting the gourds into pieces is also helpful.


Donate a pumpkin

Any unblemished pumpkins that haven’t been carved or painted can be donated for food usage. DC-based organization Pumpkins for the People has arranged several drop-off sites throughout the city. The pumpkins will go to one of the org’s not-for-profit partners like Foodprints, Miriam’s Kitchen, or Martha’s Table. Drop-off sites are active until Wednesday, November 22.

Hope Cartwright
Editorial Fellow