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Smashing the Great Pumpkin-Waste Problem

Community pumpkin-smashing events aim to cut down on Halloween’s contribution to America’s food waste problem and reap the benefits of composting.
A smashed pumpkin can do more for the environment than a rotting one.
A smashed pumpkin can do more for the environment than a rotting one.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

After the trick-or-treaters have gone home, what becomes of the Halloween pumpkins that have outlived their decorative purpose?

You might be tempted just to throw them all away—and that’s certainly what many people do. Every year, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin get tossed out and left to rot in America’s landfills. Some are thrown away the day after Halloween, contributing to the 30.3 million tons of annual food waste in the U.S. When left to decompose in a landfill, that food waste produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas that’s far more potent than carbon dioxide. (It’s not just in the U.S.; the Guardian reported that in the U.K., people are expected to throw away a record 8 million pumpkins this year.)