Oh My Gourd! Pumpkins Are Terrorizing the Environment

Luca Cantagallo, age 12 and IndyKids staff

Jack-o’-lanterns are pretty scary. But do you know what’s even scarier? More than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin waste is left to rot in landfills every year!

Scientists estimate that discarded pumpkins contribute to 30.3 million pounds of food waste each year in the United States. To put that into perspective, that’s as heavy as just under 10,000 Honda Civics. Decomposing pumpkin waste in landfills produces methane gas, which is a greenhouse gas contributing to the destruction of our planet. In total, this waste produces about 9,500 pounds of methane each year. Methane gas has over 20 times the heating power of carbon dioxide. 

Does this mean we can’t have jack-o’-lanterns now?? Fortunately, there are eco-friendly ways to get rid of this spooky organic matter! If you have a yard, you can simply bury your old pumpkin. It will enrich the soil and help flowers and plants grow. Alternatively, you could order a compost bin provided by most cities. If your city doesn’t provide these, you can also give your food waste to a food waste collection center in your area. They will turn your pumpkins into fertilizer and food for animals.

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