Have a Pumpkin to pitch? Options to Compost After the Pumpkin Smash

Nov 10 2017

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It was a soggy Saturday the day of the Pumpkin Smash. Perhaps the rain kept you at home or perhaps you heard about the event a little too late. Don’t fear, here are a few options to keep those pumpkins out of the landfill.

DIY Pumpkin Composting at Home

This is by far the easiest option that also requires zero fossil fuels. If you have a yard (or access to a friend or family member’s yard) you can easily compost your pumpkins at home. Remove candles and any non-biodegradable decorations, and put your pumpkin in an out-of-the-way spot, crush it (the more you do, the faster it’ll decompose), and let it be!  You can pile leaves or straw on top to hide them if you like. They’ll be gone by spring.

Side note: This can be a fun project for kids to monitor. Check on the pumpkin every week or so, snap a photo and take observation notes!

Drop-Off Options

If you’re in the northwest suburbs, Prairieland Disposal offers two drop-off sites for composting pumpkins, gourds, mums, and cornstalks through the end of November. Check out their flyer for more details: Prairieland Disposal Pumpkin Composting Oct-Nov

Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva – one of the Pumpkin Smash collection sites, will take pumpkins from residents through November. They will be composted on-site. View their flyer for more info.


Some towns in the Chicago area offer curbside food scrap composting programs including Wheaton, Naperville, and Glen Ellyn. Check with your municipality to see if they offer a program. If you sign up, you can compost your pumpkins and so much more! Some programs are lumped together with yard waste pick up and may be called “organics recycling”.

If your town doesn’t have a program – let them know you want one! If local leadership knows there’s interest in organics recycling they’ll know to bring it up next time your town’s waste hauling contract is up for renewal.

Does your town offer a curbside composting program?

There are also a handful of small companies that provide home pick-ups for composting. Check out this list of services compiled by Zero Waste Chicago. Their service areas vary so they may  or may not cover your neck-of-the-woods. The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition also has a list of statewide compost service providers.

Get creative…

Is there a community garden in your town or neighborhood? Some run community compost bins and they may be happy to receive your nutrient-rich pumpkins!

Do you know anyone with a farm? How about horses or pet pigs? This year some visitors to our pumpkin collection sites were scavenging for their animals!


We had over 30 locations collecting pumpkins to help residents green their Halloween this past Saturday, November 4th. Will we beat last year’s total of 56 tons of pumpkins diverted from landfills? Stay tuned…


Are You Ready To Do Your Part?

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