The Results are In! The 2016 Pumpkin Collection was a Smashing Success

Nov 18 2016

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The week after Halloween, a total of 31 collection sites around Illinois, from Barrington down to Alton, participated in our third annual pumpkin collection. Young and old came out to green their Halloween and smash their pumpkins in the name of composting. If you missed it this year, mark your calendar for the 2017 Pumpkin Smash on Saturday, Nov 4th.

And the results are in….

Together, we collected over 56 tons of pumpkins from residents in Illinois!

Check out some of the pumpkin crews around the state:

A young resident in Addison pitches his pumpkin. Pushing the Envelope Farm in Geneva.
Kids in Evanston Chuck their Pumpkins
bartlett-pumpkins-7 darien-1carol-stream-glenbard-north-vols-1

Each row, left to right: Addison, Geneva, Evanston, Bartlett, Elmhurst, Carol Stream, Darien.

Some locations had games. One gave away pumpkin pie to lucky participants. One tied their pumpkin collection into early voting.


Pumpkin Ring toss in Alton.


Mini-pumpkin Tic-Tac-Toe in Alton.

A family wins a pie in Wheaton.








What they all have in common is working together – with local governments, school districts and more – to reduce the environmental impact of our Halloween celebrations.

So awesome what some dedicated people can get done! We squashed our collection total from 2015 (26.5 tons).  Not only will those pumpkins be turned into good compost to nourish our soil, we can crunch the numbers to find out how much water was saved from leaching out of our landfills and the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that were avoided.

Water Rescued from the Landfill

Pumpkins are 90% water. Water in compost is an asset, but in a landfill it’s a problem that has to be carefully managed to prevent groundwater contamination. Every last bit that we can send back into our soil is a win.

From those 56 tons of pumpkins we rescued….

11,828 gallons of water…… that’s equal to roughly

  • 328.5 full bathtubs OR
  • 3,942 toilet flushes OR
  • 687 showers worth


Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Organic waste in landfills (food scraps, yard waste, untreated wood, and paper products) break down and create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. A well managed compost pile does not and can even absorb carbon.

From those 55 tons of pumpkins that were composted we avoided:

48 tons of COequivalent – or roughly equal to

  • taking 10 cars off the road for 1 year
  • 5 home’s energy use for 1 year
  • 5,401 gallons of gas
  • Carbon absorbed by 45 acres of forest over 1 year

Complete the Cycle

How do you like d’em pumpkins? Don’t forget – not only do we need to compost our food scraps, we need to purchase and use food scrap amended compost to complete the cycle. There are numerous benefits to using compost in your garden and lawn.  So come spring, remember to ask for food scrap compost!

We look forward to bigger, better, and expanded efforts in 2017 on Saturday, November 4th! Thanks you to all the towns, haulers, and organizations that participated this year:

Addison, Alton, Barrington, Bartlett, Bensenville, Carol Stream, Clarendon Hills, Darien, DeKalb County, Downers Grove, Elgin, Elmhurst, Evanston, Geneva, Glen Ellyn, Glencoe, Grayslake, Gurnee, Itasca, La Grange Park, Lisle, Park Ridge, Romeoville, Roselle, Skokie, Villa Park, Westmont, Wheaton, and Winnetka. The College of Lake County, Will County Green, Maercker School Ecology Group, Downers Grove North and South High Schools, Hinsdale South High School, Lewis University, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church – Glen Ellyn, The Farm, Glenbard South HS Key Club, York High School Ultimate Frisbee Club, College of DuPage Environmental Club, Northern Illinois Food Bank, and Pushing the Envelope Farm. Republic Services, Lakeshore Recycling, Waste Management, Prairieland Disposal, Roy Strom, Groot, NuWay, and Flood Brothers.

*Some towns were host to more than one collection location


USGS Typical Water Use at Home
USEPA Waste Reduction Model Calculator
USEPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator
US Composting Council
US Composting Council: Keep Organic Out of the Landfill pdf More on the difference between landfilling and composting

Are You Ready To Do Your Part?

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