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Pumpkin Smash Diverts Over 150 Tons from Landfill

Nov 23 2020

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Volunteers from the Lisle High School Ecology Club at the Lisle Pumpkin Smash.

Each year after Halloween, communities in Illinois provide a fun, eco-friendly option to wrap up the holiday. Dozens of sites for the Pumpkin Smash, organized by SCARCE and hosted by local governments, schools, and community organizations, offer residents a place to bring their pumpkins for composting once the festivities are over.

This year the Pumpkin Smash was more than an opportunity to send-off Halloween with an eco-friendly bang – it provided communities with a fun and safe outdoor activity in a year when so many have had to be cancelled. The event was a great success with many locations seeing an increase in attendees and pumpkins. Some locations even doubled their previous best collection totals! It didn’t hurt that it was unseasonably warm and sunny.

In all, there were 49 locations collecting pumpkins for composting after Halloween. We are extra grateful to everyone that made the Pumpkin Smash possible. Their dedication to this project is what makes it happen! Together, we have made a huge positive impact for our communities and our planet. We look forward to another great event in 2021!

So, how did the 2020 Pumpkin Smash stack up? Check out our results below.

How many pumpkins were composted?

Together, we diverted 159.17 tons of pumpkins from landfills.

Collectively we have composted over 538 tons of pumpkins since the Pumpkin Smash first began in 2014. Composting all those pumpkins provides a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, less leachate to manage, and captures water and nutrients to recharge our soil. It also represents a lot of space in our landfills better used for items with no other option for disposal. Not only has it helped the planet, it’s also helped spread awareness to thousands of people about the benefits of food scrap composting.

How much water did we rescue?

Pumpkins are about 90% water. All that water can either be a problem (leachate to be managed in a landfill) or an asset (returning to the soil when composted). From the 159.17 tons of pumpkins we collected that comes to 34,230.11 gallons of water! That’s equivalent to the water used for…

  • 11,410 toilet flushes – or more if you have a super-efficient low-flow toilet
  • 1,369 loads of laundry – that’s enough to last a person over 13 years if you do two loads a week!

What was the impact on greenhouse gas emissions?

When decomposing in a landfill, organic waste such as pumpkins produce methane – a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. When done properly, composting organic material emits little to no greenhouse gases and helps to sequester carbon in soil. Further, many compost sites are closer than landfills, saving fuel in transporting the pumpkins. By composting 159.17 tons of pumpkins, we avoided emitting 114.31 metric tons of COequivalent – roughly equal to…

  • taking 24 passenger vehicles off the road for a full year
  • emissions from 19.4 homes’ electricity use for one year

Close the loop: Use Food Scrap Amended Compost at Home

Composting our organic material is only the first half of the sustainability equation. Once food scrap compost is made, it must be used in order to reap the full benefits outlined above. Luckily, food scrap amended compost is an incredibly diverse and nutrient-dense soil amendment (aka fertilizer) making it a no-brainer. Be sure to seek out food scrap amended compost for your yard, garden, and house plants. Ask for it from your local landscape or garden center – and if they don’t have it, ask them to begin carrying it. If you live near Addison, you can pick some up at SCARCE’s annual Growin’ Green Garden Market in May. 

pumpkin smash square logo

Thank you again to all our hosts, volunteers, haulers, and community members that took part. See you next year for another smashing time at the Pumpkin Smash on November 6th, 2021!

Learn how to bring the Pumpkin Smash to your community with our free guide.

Check out more of the Pumpkin Smashing fun in our gallery:

Are You Ready To Do Your Part?

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